How to Make Friends and Influence Enemies At the Gym- An After 50 User’s Guide

The Dirty Dozen (+1) of Gym Etiquette: YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW

If you’re new to the gym experience you don’t know what you don’t know. Sure, you can read the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) your gym posts but that don’t really give you the inside scoop. You, after all want to look like you know what you’re doing. Short of sitting backwards on a machine (we’ve all done it) you can’t do anything that completely silly at the gym.

The following will help you irritate others at your gym beyond belief.  Avoid if possible.

And should you come upon someone making these mistakes, feel free to tell them I said so.

1. Drip sweat all over a machine then get up and leave. Let’s face it some of us glow and some of us downright stream live rivers. If you’re the latter it’s sure to have a negative effect on your finding a fitness buddy. Ask for a hand towel or look for the sanitation station wipes.

2. Sit on the exercise equipment between sets and check your phone or iPod. People are glad to wait while you scroll through and check for new Facebook posts or take a selfie. Not. It’s always better to get up between your sets and leave the equipment open. First, if you need a rest, it’s probably two-to-four minutes so there’s plenty of time for one if not two people to use it before you’re ready. Next, if you’re only resting 30 seconds or so between sets, you should be moving from machine to machine not repeating the same one multiple sets until you’re done.

3. Clip your toenails in the locker room. Yes, really. It happened last week. Just don’t. We’re not going to talk any more about it.

4. Change clothes in the bathroom stall while there’s a line. Seriously, no one is looking and if they are, they’re looking at themselves in the mirror too self-conscious to look at you.

5. Get dressed or put your lotion on in the shower stall while there’s a line waiting in the before-work-time. Same vein as #4. Everyone is too busy wondering if someone is looking at them to be looking at you.

6. Refuse to share a lane in the pool. This one really gets a swimmer who needs to get those laps in while they have a chance to fit in a workout. If someone stops you and asks to share a lane and you think you’ll thrash around too much doing your butterfly, let them decide. Besides, mom said.

7. Sit on the locker room bench buck-naked. It’s not toenail clippings but no one wants to think that you’ve done that.

8. Take your phone into the shower stall, toilet, or anywhere else where someone HAS to overhear your conversation like it or not. Sometimes people go to the gym to get unplugged. If you don’t want to unplug don’t make someone else listen.

9. Talk in the steam room. Naked. To strangers. That’s just, well, strange.

10. Put on that perfume before you head to the gym. Perfume when you perspire is like smoke in the non-smoking section to a non-smoker. Whatever you put on so you think you smell nice is twice as potent to someone else. Then when you’re in a hot, humid environment? Not friendly. Allergen.

11. Leave your heavy weights on the rack. Yep, I know you’re over 50 but you’re strong. Could be you. When you’re done, re-rack.

12. Head to the gym with that hacking cough and runny, sneezy nose. Yep, that’s sure to attract friends. They’ll in fact clear the equipment so you can have it all to yourself. If you must work out while you’re sick, do it outdoors or at home where it’s just you dealing with your choices and not exposing everyone else. There are times when a little movement is good for the immune system during a mild illness. But most others don’t want to share your immune boosting if it comes with sneezing and coughing.

13. Take a nap on the machines. This one came from a Facebook Fan. I must say it conjures up a smile-enducing image. What’s more …when she woke him (so she could use the machine!) to ask if he needed her to call someone, he just said “no,” he was fine.

Your turn. Got any good stories about gym bloopers you care to share?

P.S. There is far more likely to be someone there when you go that was you not long ago than not. Ask for help and you’ll have found a friend. Ask a staff member for assistance. Even if you just decide to go for a short time on the first few visits, the more you go the more comfortable you will be.

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