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Fit For Life: Germophobia & Etiquette in the Gym

Sunday, January 22, 2017

 

Yes, gym etiquette is a real concern – and it’s lacking in most gyms. I know you go to the gym to sweat and get down and dirty, but there are a few things we can do to make it a nicer, and safer, experience for all. I’m not saying you need to wear white gloves and a bow tie to work out, but some simple courtesy goes a long way, especially during peak hours, when things get crowded. 

Unplug.

One of my biggest issues in the gym is the cell phone. I understand that phones do many things, but when you are at the gym they should play music only. Really folks, let's disconnect for an hour and focus on the task at hand.... exercise and intensity. If you are that important that you can't turn off your phone or email for one hour, maybe you should reschedule your workout times to a time when you can turn off, because answering the phone zaps intensity, and without intensity your results will be non existent. Its also bothersome waiting to use an area or a machine when the person is sitting around texting and holding up progress, and it is most annoying trying to focus when someone ten feet away is arguing on the phone. Remember that there are lots of heavy equipment and moving parts, and a gym can be dangerous, so let's be considerate of others and for safety reasons, leave your phone in the locker. 

Get to class on time.

When I’m doing group instruction, I must explain the importance of punctuality, especially in cycle class or class that requires equipment and weights. First, you compromise on your warm-up. This is an important part of the workout. Besides that, it is dangerous to start adjusting your bike or set up your area, when others have started moving. Finally, you have the distraction factor. It isn't the end of the world to me if you are late, but what of the others who made the effort and arrived on time?  It can be annoying and distracting.

Hygiene. 

Now let's talk a little about hygiene. Being the cold and flu season, this area should not be overlooked. I have seen many guys leaving the men's room without washing their hands. Seriously? I encourage my clients to wash their hands after every workout. Wiping down the equipment is always a welcome courtesy. Trust me, nobody wants to jump on a bench with a puddle of sweat, or a wet circle from one’s head dripping off of it. Take 30 seconds and give it a quick spray, the next person will greatly appreciate it. And while many employees at the gym are mothers, they’re not yours, and even if they were, they’d tell you - let's pick up our toys when we are finished. A lot of people feel that paying for a membership entitles them to a personal butler. If you use a piece of equipment, it is easier for the next person to find when it gets put away or re-racked to its rightful place, so please put your stuff away. Finally, if you are sick - stay away. You might think you are being rough, tough and cool working out sick, but you are not only taxing your immune system even further, making recovery time longer, but you are spreading germs to everyone in the building. When it's cold outside, and you have a heated box full of sweaty people, you get an incubator for germs, so please think of your fellow gym goers, and keep your germs to yourself. Walk outside if you absolutely need to workout. Germs won't spread as quickly in the cold, and YOU will feel better. Or just rest and recover. 

We go to the gym to improve our bodies and de stress from the days’ events. We are not looking for more stress or to get sick. Going to the gym should be a pleasurable experience for all, so if everyone does their part and follows a few rules of etiquette we can all have an enjoyable workout, stay safe, and stay healthy.

Matt Espeut, GoLocal's Health & Lifestyle Contributor has been a personal trainer and health & fitnesss consultant for over 25 years. He is the owner of Fitness Profiles, a one on one, and small group personal training company, as well as Providence Fit Body Boot Camp, located at 1284 North Main St., on the Providence/Pawtucket line. You can reach Matt at (401) 453-3200; on Facebook at "Matt Espeut", and on Twitter at @MattEspeut. "We’re all in this life together – let’s make it a healthy one!

 

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