Going to the gym is supposed to be a relaxing experience (mentally, that is—physically, it’s rough), and when you get done, there’s a pleasant runner’s high. Unfortunately, modern manners have eroded to the point that a trip to the gym can be stressful, due to the lack of consideration and downright selfishness of other patrons. Here are some of the most annoying things people do at the gym:
1. Talking on cell phones
Cell phones have become an extension of some people’s hands—they can’t put them down, no matter what else they are doing. Though it seems silly (and somewhat dangerous), there are people who talk and text on their phones while running on treadmills, riding stationary bikes, lifting weights, and even in fitness classes. It’s distracting to people around them, rude to class instructors and trainers trying to work, and counterintuitive; if you’re talking on the phone, you don’t have as much lung capacity and mental energy to devote to pushups.
2. Not wiping sweat off machines
The gym is one of the few places where it’s okay to sweat profusely. But too many people drip all over cardio and strength training machines, then trot off without wiping down the hand grips. This is not only lazy, but a potential health hazard; most gyms offer cloth and paper towels everywhere you look—after one trip to the gym, choosing to leave sweat behind is not an unconscious, “I forgot” decision.
3. Not wearing enough clothes
Men and women alike are often guilty of working out nearly nude. Although working out raises body temperature, wearing a thong and sports bra is not the only way to stay cool. Lots of more chaste sporty outfits are made from material that wicks sweat; loose fitting clothing is another way to go. When someone walks by you in the gym wearing what would be illegal in a school, no matter what the body type, it’s annoying. Showing off your goods is not the point of working out in a public place, no matter how many lusty people try to say otherwise. Certain gyms, like the Y, have dress codes—but many others do not.
4. Shameless flirting
Working out releases adrenalin, and, over time, raises testosterone levels (in men and women). For this reason, there tends to be a fair amount of flirting in gyms, ranging from prolonged ogling to blatant passes. In some gyms, this has become so rampant that “women-only” areas have been set up.
5. Taking pictures
Before the modern age of cell phones, only a few people carried cameras with them all the time; they were called photographers. Nowadays, everyone who carries a cell phone also carries a camera, and, some people feel the need to photograph themselves incessantly. In a gym, this is not welcome behavior; as you snap a selfie in front of a wall of mirrors, you’re likely to get someone else in the shot too. Post this to Instagram or Facebook, and you’ve just blasted someone’s face and location all over the internet, without their permission. And even if the person taking the photo is careful just to snap themselves, there’s no point to this activity, unless you consider pure narcissism a good quality.
6. Too much fragrance
So many of these annoyances have to do with people with extending their egos beyond the bounds of courtesy. And so it is with excessive perfume and cologne wearers in the gym. Gyms are generally closed environments with poor ventilation, and smells in gyms are more intense than other places—people go to them to sweat. As bad as body odor may be, trying to mask it with too much cologne or deodorant spray can be even worse, particularly for people who are sensitive to chemicals.
7. Dropping weights
Lifting weights is hard work; it asks a lot of the mind and body. But some weight lifters (and in this case, mostly men) seem to enjoy lifting more weight than they can manage, then dumping the weights on the floor with an alarming slam. Anyone with the misfortune of walking by wearing headphones and not paying attention is at severe risk of losing some toes. To the over-machismo weight lifter: if you can’t manage to squat and lift two hundred pounds, please don’t do it—the loud slamming of weights startles people, and not in a good way. Also, do pick up your weights, especially arm weights, and put them back on the shelf—they get in the way of people who legitimately can’t lift them.
8. Making rude and/or creepy noises
This entry is somewhat connected with the previous one. Working out requires strenuous effort, and, for some people, this involves making loud grunts and other straining noises. While grunts may help the people making them muscle through a set of bench pressing, they don’t help anyone else in the gym. Unnecessary noises are off-putting, and they’re also a bit of ego-stroking—look at me, working out so hard. Try deep breathing instead.
9. Hogging equipment without using it
Some folks like to sit for twenty minutes on a machine, doing two, maybe three rounds of five repetitions. While this would be fine in a home gym, in a public place it’s inexcusable. Everyone paid something to use the gym; hogging equipment is not any one patron’s right. Standing around waiting to use an ab roller while someone “using” it stares at the ceiling is awkward to say the least.
10. Correcting form without your permission
There is a disturbing trend in gyms of people offering unasked for “help” to people who are exercising. It’s not socially acceptable to correct someone who is parking badly; why is it perceived to be okay to correct someone doing a sloppy arm curl? And who’s to say it’s even sloppy? This behavior is often related to an earlier annoying thing, shameless flirting.