Train your muscles and your manners in the gym

May 14th, 2009 by Laura Galbraith in Entertainment

Whether you are well known around the gym floor or just starting out your membership, there are guidelines everyone should abide by when using the facility's equipment or services.

Even in a place where profuse sweating, little clothing and grunting are perfectly acceptable, etiquette in the gym is still important, experts say.

Show your respect for others by following some simple rules, as mentioned by gymgoers and Sports Barn employees.

Clean equipment when complete.

Imagine getting ready to use the leg press, only to find a puddle of sweat on your seat. It appears that the guy who ran around the track for 40 minutes before heading to the machine forgot to clean up after himself.

To keep gym equipment sanitary, employees at the Sports Barn and other gym establishments ask visitors to get a towel or cloth and wipe off the machine once they are finished using it.

"You want it to look the way you would have wanted it (to look) when you came walking up to it," said Bob Merz, assistant operations manager for the Sports Barn downtown.

Dress for (workout) success.

There is no reason to look your best before a sweaty workout session. Comfort is key, but so is modesty.

Mr. Merz recommends that guys wear long shorts, T-shirts and tank tops on the fitness floor. Women can wear tank tops, shorts or spandex.

"As long as it's nothing vulgar or too exposing," said Mr. Merz. "You don't want to be wearing, like, light white shorts and have black underwear on."

For those attending a yoga class, Mr. Merz recommends comfortable yoga pants and a breathable shirt.

"Guys can wear shorts, but make sure they got something underneath because some positions can be a little exposing," he said.

Stay tidy.

The locker room is a place to relax and chat with friends, but it is not your bedroom.

Sports Barn member Brenda Phipps said one of her biggest pet peeves is when people leave towels or personal items all over the place.

"They throw towels on the floor, they spread every bit of their junk out where it takes up more room," she said. "And I don't think it's an intentional thing. I think they're just not thinking."

Be smart with dumbbells.

If you can bench press 300 pounds, that is certainly impressive. However, the person waiting to use the weights after you might be a beginner, capable of only handling the bar.

"If you're working with a machine or equipment that requires you to put on weights, I think it would be polite to take those weights back off so that the next person doesn't have to take those weights off and then put their own weights on," said Janis Wilkey, another member of the Sports Barn.

And as always, show consideration for the next person by wiping down the bench press.

Be on time.

Like in many gym establishments, machines like the Precor or treadmill are popular among cardio buffs.

These machines are also limited, so to allow more people access, the Sports Barn has members sign up for 30 minute reservations.

"If you show up 5 minutes late, you lose that reservation," said Mr. Merz. "It's just fair and everybody knows that."

Instead of getting angry about a lost reservation, members should sign up for a later time or use the facility's track.

Likewise, if you plan to attend one of the gym's classes, arrive on time so as not to distract others.