It’s evening and, as usual, the weight room is crowded. I’ve managed to grab a free bench and am in the process of doing my flys when I hear the first in what will be an impressive series of barks, snorts and yelps within my immediate vicinity. I sit up and see a fortysomething guy, a bit on the short, squat side, performing standing crunches in front of the mirror. He’s got his hands laced behind his back and each time he dips, lifting the opposite knee to the opposite elbow, he emits the cries of someone who is either engaged in ecstatic, orgasmic sex or caught in the grips of a severe case of Tourette Syndrome. Everyone in the weight room is trying not to look at this guy but I know I’m not the only one sneaking peeks. His effort level is pretty amazing. When he finally finishes his set of, I don’t know, 250 crunches, I cannot even imagine how he feels because I’m exhausted.
I don’t know about you, but I would feel pretty self-conscious grunting and snorting like that in public. Apparently, I’m not alone because I’ve heard about some health clubs where alarms go off when patrons grow too enthusiastic in their efforts to feel the burn. But that’s going too far–it’s a gym, for crying out loud. Some moaning and groaning is part of the deal. Still, I prefer not to hear what sounds like an S&M bondage game while I’m working out. The classic 70s rock music I have to endure is bad enough (more about that in a minute).
It’s time for a refresher on weight room etiquette. Yes, most clubs/gyms post rules but it seems few people are reading them. Here we go:
- This first rule also shares a connection to Mr. Orgasmo-Tourettes Syndrome. Do not, I repeat, do not count your repetitions aloud. Are you listening Mr. O.T.? When I heard you grunting out your reps the other evening, I sort of lost track of my own, the ones I was silently recording, in my head. Have you ever had someone try to talk to you while you are counting money? You lose track of the quarters, dimes and nickels, right? Same principle. Please, keep your rep count to yourself.
- Please refrain from giving yourself a shout-out after you complete your set (in fairness, I have never heard Mr. O.T. do this). It’s one thing for your trainer to congratulate you on a job well-done–a good trainer should do that. But when you’re training alone, is it really necessary to shout, “Good job,” “Way to push it,” or “YESSSSS,” so the rest of us can hear? Why not just give yourself a high-five? At least that would spare the rest of us.
- Hey, music lovers! I love my tunes, too, but I usually like the songs better when the original artists sing them. If you can’t resist singing to the oldies while you workout, it might be time to leave your iPod or MP3 player at home (or tune into a podcast of a talk show). Come to think of it, it’s just not a good idea to plug ear buds into your head while you’re in the weight room. I tried it once and it really threw me off. I wasn’t as aware of my surroundings and that’s dangerous when you’re swinging barbells. Besides, the management is usually nice enough to provide piped-in music. Which brings me to my next point–
Why, oh why, must I listen to Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’ every time I work out? (Okay, nearly every time.) And if it’s not Journey, it’s Rush to remind you:
Today’s Tom Sawyer,
He gets high on you,
And the space he invades
He gets by on you.
© Core Music Publishing Co.
Frankly, I’d rather leave those memories (and awful lyrics) behind. Find a new mix of music, please.
Please refrain from purposely dropping 75 pound weights on the floor. We’ve all experienced it: We’re working hard. Digging deep. Watching our form. Staying focused. Well, we were until a huge crash accompanied by a loud “gahhhhh,” or “ahhhhhh,” or “owwww-yahhhh” wrenched us out of our perfect posture. Yikes! I know those free weights are heavy but is it really necessary to shake the building with them each time you complete your chest presses? It’s downright frightening. And it’s not just a matter of disturbing the peace, or, well, the Eddie Money song that’s playing–I really, really, don’t want you to tear your arm out of its socket when you let loose of those weights! It’s an accident waiting to happen. Proper form is not only important to make sure your muscles are getting the maximum benefit, it protects you from hurting yourself. If you can’t sit up and place your weights on the floor in a calm manner, it’s time to either lighten your load or decrease your reps.
Once you safely finish using a plate, kettle or barbell, put it back in its assigned rack or location. There is nothing more frustrating–well, actually, there are tons of things but I’m going for drama here–than discovering that the person ahead of you neglected to remove the mega-ton weight from the machine. I have lost count of the number of times I’ve had to seek out a fitness director to help me cart away the weight or the lame excuses I’ve heard when I’ve caught the offender(s) in the act of walking away and asked if he (usually a male–sorry, guys) would please remove it. It usually goes something like this:
Me: Uh, hi. Would you mind putting back your weight? I need to use the machine.
Offender (look of astonishment crosses his face): Well, it was already there when I used it.
Huh? So it follows logically that you don’t have to re-rack the weight? I don’t think so. He who inherits the ring, must bear the responsibility, or something like that. Seriously, I’m no weakling but I can’t lift a plate that’s almost the size of a Hummer tire–mind your manners and put it away! Thank you.
- When you finish using a bench/mat, wipe it off with your towel.
Most gym members understand this and follow the rule. Sure, it’s easy to forget sometimes but wiping up your sweat is Hygienics 101 stuff. Unfortunately, however, not everyone enrolled in the class. The other night I asked a young woman who had just completed her post-run stretching on the gym’s large floor mat if she would make room for me. “Oh, no problem,” she said. No, now I was the one with the problem when I discovered she had left a friggin’ lagoon on the mat. I should have said something but didn’t feel like hassling about it so I went ahead and mopped it up. Noticing my annoyance, the post-run-stretcher shrugged at her friends, making it clear she had no clue that her fellow health club members might find lying in her “pool,” offensive.
Were people always this clueless? Is there some sort of Handbook to Cluelessness people are following? Basic cleanliness is just not that hard to figure out, especially when it comes to, um, sharing one’s various body fluids. Most good gyms provide towels–use them!
Finally, a couple of brief points: Please keep your kids out of the weight room. Some of the barbells weigh more than they do and it’s not pleasant to think of an accidental “crowning.” Many parents know this but then again there are those who subscribe to the handbooks mentioned above.
Please share the equipment. We all need our turn using the triceps rope. And if you see that the guy behind you at the water fountain is panting and close to dehydration, don’t hurry to fill up your 16 oz. water bottle– step aside and let him drink!
Now, I’ve got a few more reps to do…