Sunday, February 5, 2012

Are you a gym rat or gym brat? Workout tips for staying healthy and not offending others

This is the time of year when the rolls of health clubs swell with new members. Getting in shape is a good thing. Healthy people are happy people. That the general populace understands the benefits of regular exercise is part of why we as a species are living longer.

In a perfect world, the fitness center should be a place of joy and harmony. After all, it's a place where every day, in every way, the people in attendance are getting better and better.

So can someone please explain to me why when people get in a gym, they lose all basic sense of manners? People who normally wouldn't hiccup without a torrent of apologies and "excuse me's" suddenly feel free to gawk and stalk and spit on the floor in front of 100 complete strangers. Why is it that otherwise normal, decent people lose their ding-dong minds when they change into sweat clothes?

Unfortunately, health clubs are full of people who have some ways about them that just aren't right. They seem to be missing the self-awareness gene. Don't become one of these people.

Are you the guy at the gym who wears street clothes while working out? You're wearing slacks and wingtip shoes on the treadmill. You can afford a health club but not sweat pants? Really?

Just because working out is your life, that's no reason to look down your nose or roll your eyes at people who are new to the experience. Fat people go to health clubs because they don't want to be fat anymore. Show some compassion, Mr. And Mrs. Hotbody. Being in shape is not as easy for some people as it has become for you. And you might try reading a book once in a while.

Are you the woman who is at the club every day with a different sparkly spandex outfit, wearing full makeup and sporting daggerlike, decorated nails? Lady, this is a gym, not a fashion runway. Try some aerobics. Your brain is in obvious need of oxygen.

Does the idea of other people's germs make you insane? Do you feel the compulsion to sanitize everything you touch or breathe on? Maybe it's time to invest in some home exercise equipment.

Are you the big galoot who feels the need to draw attention to yourself by dropping your weights with a huge crash after your last repetition to show everyone how much you're lifting? Everyone hates you.

When you finish your drill on the weight machine or treadmill, reset it to neutral. Chances are the next person to use it won't be exactly like you. Just a guess.

Are you the inconsiderate pig who does not wipe your sweaty residue off the weight machine you've just been spritzing on for 10 minutes? The spray bottle of disinfectant and paper towels are there for a reason. Use them.

Do you sing along to the songs on your iPod at the top of your lungs while on the treadmill? Please don't. You're annoying everyone in the room. This isn't an audition for "American Idol." Save it for the shower -- the one at your home.

The hair dryer in the locker room is for the hair on your head. Enough said.

Do you hog the weight machine between sets by texting and pretending you don't notice the person standing right there waiting to use it? People like you should save the texting for when you are driving during rush hour.

Are you the strange guy in the locker room who enjoys a period of prolonged nudity a little too much? There are gay bathhouses for that. Join one.

Do you give the big, long, gawky eyeball to whoever catches your attention? That's rude. Go back to staring at yourself in the mirror.

Are you the person who spends an hour and a half at the gym but only 10 minutes working out? You're not the social director on the Love Boat, pal. Heard of pull-ups?

Are you the chatty type? Do you love to meet new people? Can't help but comment on people's hair, clothes, demeanor? Are you dying to discuss the movie you saw last night, the book you just finished? The gym is for working out. Join Facebook.

Ladies, gents, easy on the cologne and perfume. People are trying to get oxygen here.

The mirrors are there so you can see that you are doing your exercises properly for maximum physical benefit, not so you can make out with yourself for an hour. Get a room.

For most people, the gym is a place where they want to get in, work out and get on with their lives. Therefore, don't hog the equipment, drinking fountain or shower. Work on your flabbiest muscle. The one that strengthens your consideration for others.