Ah, January – the month when fitness clubs suddenly see their memberships surge with people determined to keep their vow to get healthy and lean.
It’s an annual tradition: Staying fit and losing weight were once again the top two New Year’s resolutions in the latest Nielsen poll.
If you’re a new gym member, you join a tribe with its own set of characters, quirks, and rules. Here are six etiquette tips to make your workouts smooth and flawless:
1. Don’t engage in bad behavior
In a TODAY poll, readers found the screamer to be the most annoying gym character, followed closely by the sweaty guy (or girl). The ogler was in third place. Don’t be one of those people.
If you’re a growling brother who can’t press a pound without looking like you’re competing for the world weightlifting championship, tone it down and know that others may be disturbed by your loud efforts.
Wipe down all equipment after using it: It doesn’t matter if you’re on a machine for two minutes or an hour. Between the sweat and whatever was gross on your hands, you have to clean up after yourself. You’re also allowed to say to someone who breaks this rule, “Hey, I think you forgot to wipe your station over there.”
And yes, you can be surrounded by people with fantastic bodies, wearing workout clothes that show off their hard work. But don’t look or try to establish a romantic connection. It’s a health club, not a nightclub.
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2. Hang up the phone
One-sided conversations can be annoying and distracting to other gym members working out around you, especially when you raise your voice to be heard above the hum of machines. When you’re on the elliptical, it’s not the time to catch up on gossip with your best friend during a 30-minute call.
Also, you’re not here to update your Facebook status, check Instagram, or take selfies. You are here to focus on your fitness goals. Put the phone in airplane mode to minimize distractions.
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3. Respect other people’s time
If you want to socialize, now might not be the time. Don’t be the incessant talker who doesn’t understand that the person next to you just wants to be left alone and focus on their workout.
Yes you meet the non-stop talker who wants to have a conversation even when you’re wearing a headset, you can let them know, “Great for chatting.” I have to resume my training. I hope you are training well yourself.
Then put on your headphones and focus on your workout. It’s okay not to respond to ongoing comments like you don’t hear it. Don’t feel bad about it. You are there to practice, not to bond with anyone.
4. Be on time for class
You might think no one notices when you sneak into the room 10 minutes into your yoga or weight training class, but that’s wishful thinking. Not only is it not good for you to skip the important warm-up and initial instructions, but you will distract others when setting up, getting gear, and catching up. Everyone really notices it. Just show up on time.
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5. Read course descriptions carefully
Tempted to try the super advanced yoga class even if you’ve never done downward facing dog? Or you don’t even know what it is? Pay attention to class descriptions and don’t overdo it by attempting advanced workouts if you’re a beginner. This can discourage you and disrupt the flow of other people in the class.
Don’t hog equipment or be a front row diva – claim ‘your’ spot in a class and expect it to be free even if you’re late. The gym is a public space so everyone should share.
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Yes you meet a lawn queen bee, don’t fall into the trap of being bullied by her and stay away from “her” place – but don’t intentionally take her place just to teach her a lesson. Base your training location on your needs (near the instructor or near the fans, for example), not his.
If someone is hogging the triceps press, you can politely ask if you could take turns. Talk to a gym employee about the biggest complaints, like members who clearly break the rules.
A.Pawlowski, Linda Melone, Jacqueline Stenson and Jane Weaver contributed to this report.