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No dumbbells allowed

Friday, August 11, 2017

Your manners cannot be faulted either at the dinner table or in the conference room. But, does the same hold true of you at the gym? There are rules to be followed while you exercise those muscles. Komal Soni gives you a crash course in gym etiquette

The gym is a place for shedding kilos, building strength and staying fit. It is not the place for socialising or making fashion statements. Even gyms have some unspoken rules that we must adhere to if we don’t want to be branded gym-unfriendly (or plain uncouth). Follow these mantras so that you don’t offend any sentiments or unnerve other gym-goers.

Follow the rules (of your gym)
Most gyms have a set of dos and don’ts pasted on the walls. Read these thoroughly and follow them to a T. This is where you spend the most intense hours of your life, sculpting your body into shape. Respect the space and its guidelines.

Shower beforehand
You head straight for the shower right after your workout, so why not before it? This is even more pertinent if you’re carrying some winter grime (who amongst us has not skipped the occasional winter bath?). You don’t want everyone running for cover as you walk in. While on the subject of hygiene, do not show up in unwashed gym wear. Just as you need a thorough scrubbing after your workout, so do the clothes you worked out in.

Clean up after yourself
There is nothing more revolting than machines or benches coated in someone else’s sweat. Cover the bench with a towel before you use it, and wipe down every piece of equipment you use (preferably with a sanitiser or antiseptic wipes) before you begin and after you’re done. The same rule also applies if you are chomping on a protein bar or guzzling a shake during your workout. Pick up the crumbs; wipe off the droplets; keep it clean! And, wash your hands as soon as you’re done with your exercise routine. Yes, that means before you leave the premises.

Try not to be loud
Maybe when you work out, it’s just you and your buddies; or maybe you have befriended some of the regulars at your gym. But, that’s no reason to shout greetings across the room or engage in loud conversations in the aisles. If you have to say hello, wave or keep the volume down. Reserve lengthy catch-up sessions for outside the gym. And, no matter how strenuous the exercise is, leave cuss words out of your vocabulary. Loud grunting and groaning is also not appreciated by others at the gym.

Stay off your cell phone

It would be ideal if you could leave your cell phone at home, but since that is out of the question in this constantly connected day and age, switch it to vibrate-only mode. Take calls only if absolutely necessary, and even then, step out into the corridor to attend to them. You know how distracting — even dangerous — it can be to have someone bellowing into his or her phone next to you while you’re trying to focus on your routine.

Also, avoid posing for selfies while you’re at the gym. You’ve subscribed to a membership to get fit, so stick to your goals. And another rule: If you have to film yourself, make sure you’re the only person in the frame and that your antics aren’t disturbing or distracting anyone else.

Dress appropriately

Needless to say, you should wear clothes that are comfortable and fit well. They shouldn’t be too tight, otherwise they’ll just cling to your sweat-drenched body and make it uncomfortable for you to engage in vigorous exercises. Anything too short, too baggy or too revealing should be avoided as well. For example, a top that rides too high, oversized or long sweats that get caught in the equipment or too-short shorts that exhibit more than they hide. Remember, accidental flashing is still flashing!

Don’t hog the equipment
Make sure that you use equipment only for the stipulated time period. Some gyms set a 30-minute limit for cardio machines, especially during rush hour. Stick to the time limit to give other people a chance to use the machines.

Put equipment back in its place
Everything has a place for a reason — so everyone knows where to find what they are looking for. Don’t leave things such as dumbbells or weights lying around after you’ve used them. Put them back from where you picked them up. It’ll save everyone a lot of time.

Don’t invade other people’s space
Other people’s space is easy to infringe upon because most times we don’t realise that we are doing it. As far as possible, keep enough space between you and fellow gym-goers. If there are enough machines available, use one a little further away from another user. It gives both you and them the privacy you need. Also, walk a wide circle around people doing weights. If someone is using the mirror while they exercise, try not to block their view.

Refrain from giving unsolicited advice
...and don’t take any either! If someone is doing something incorrectly, bring it to the notice of the staff. Do not take it upon yourself to intervene. Conversely, you don’t have to listen to every piece of advice proffered to you by other members of the gym, unless the person giving the advice is a trainer at the gym. Listen to trained professionals or you may end up injuring yourself.

Don’t stare (even in the mirror)
Staring at someone while they work out is wholely inappropriate. And, just because you are checking them out in the mirror doesn’t mean that they can’t spot you doing so. Focus on yourself. That’s what the gym is for.

Stay away from the gym when sick
We have all met that person who brags about never skipping the gym — even if he or she is sick! Refrain from being that person and avoid the gym when you’re sick. You only end up spreading your germs to others and putting everyone else’s health at risk. Do everyone a favour; stay at home.

Use deodorants, shun perfumes

While using a deodorant to keep the unpleasant odours at bay is advisable at the gym, splashing yourself generously with perfume is an absolute no-no. Strong fragrances are not only distracting (not everyone may share your love for your favourite perfume), some people may also be allergic to certain perfumes or colognes. You want to smell clean at the gym, not overwhelmingly fragrant.

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