Hazlett

Twisting tight jar lids and lifting heavy boxes have always posed a challenge for me so I decided to take up weight training. 

I’m not planning to try out for the Navy SEALs, but I would like to be a little stronger. When a friend recently mentioned she was working as a personal trainer at a local gym, I said, “Sign me up!”

The training has been fun … and educational. For instance, I discovered there is a code of gym etiquette. Emily Post could add a few chapters to her book of manners about best behavior while exercising.

All of this was unbeknownst to me, so naturally my first faux pas occurred mere moments into my first training session. After straining to move a 5-pound weight on a bicep curl machine, my little arms burned against the resistance. So, I released the equipment grip, causing the weights to fall back into place with a loud clang.

“Don’t bang the weights,” said the trainer. “It’s bad manners.”

You mean like using the wrong fork or talking on your cellphone during a movie? Who knew?

“Look, I’m having a hard enough time not falling on my face on the treadmill or bonking my head against the equipment. Now you’re telling me there are social rules to remember?”

After talking with trainers and other gym regulars, I compiled their Top 10 no-nos at the gym. Here’s their advice, along with “don’t bang the weights”:

  • Don’t use your cellphone while working out. Even as a newbie, I can see why this habit annoys people. You want to use a machine or bench, but someone is sitting on it, and they aren’t exercising. Instead they’re tapping away at their mobile device.

I watched one woman use the rowing machine while talking on her phone. This was pretty amazing since the rower usually requires two hands.

  • Another rule about cellphones; use is prohibited in the locker room, please. No one wants to worry they might be videotaped.
  • My trainer says, “Mind your own treadmill.” In other words, don’t gawk at others’ statistics, such as time, speed and incline on the treadmill.
  • Don’t walk off and leave your dirty towel hanging on the equipment. “That’s what the hampers are for,” pointed out an employee. (I can hardly wait for the day when I perspire enough to need a towel …)
  • Always put away weights. Speaking as a confessed weakling, when strong people leave heavy free weights stacked on a bar and walk away, I’m doomed because I cannot remove the weights from the bar! A gym employee has to help me the weights in their proper spot.
  • Always clean equipment after sweating all over it. “It’s really bad,” said one gym-goer, “when the seat is so drenched in sweat from the previous user, you stick to it.” Yuck.
  • Try not to grunt loudly. This grievance doesn’t actually bother me because I’m one of the noisy ones. I’m not grunting per se; more like wailing and moaning. When I’m straining to lift that 10-pound weight on my 12th repetition, I grimace and cry out, “I think I’m going to die!”
  • Let others “work in.” As a courtesy, if you’re using more than one machine during a circuit routine, you’re supposed to allow fellow exercisers to cut in and use the equipment you’re not occupying. Some people don’t like to do that because it disrupts their pace. Secretly, I’m glad when someone wants to cut in so I can rest. (“Be my guest, go right ahead! Take your time! I’ll just sit here and wait.”)
  • Try not to plop down in a heap on the indoor track causing others to run around you. Oh, wait. That was just me. My bad. Who knew exercising was so complicated?

Contact Susan Hazlett at susanrhazlett@yahoo.com or write to her in care of The Pantagraph, 301 W. Washington St., Bloomington, IL 61702-2907.

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