Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Etiquette Enforcement: The Gym

I've been spending an inordinate amount of time at the gym lately. I've probably mentioned this about a hundred times in the last few posts, so I'll spare you the details on how much time exactly I've been lifting. However, as I'm lifting, I wouldn't be me if I wasn't observing human interaction and behavior. So for you, the reader, I've broken out some rules that may or may not be in existence, to help facilitate a more productive and comfortable self-improvement session at your local trendy gymnasium.

1. Don't Be A Dick:
I can't stress this enough. No one likes a dick, not even the most semen stained pornstars. What people like a lot less is the dick at the gym. The dick is the guy wearing the tight Underarmor t shirt and leggings, bench pressing too much weight without a spot and letting everyone know in earshot because he'll be grunting through his hernia. He slams weights, yells and never wipes down benches and equipment when he's done, leaving a sweaty puddle/hand print every where he goes. When he's resting between sets, he's giving "pointers" to other gym goers on how their technique is off. He knows all about "isolating" certain muscle groups, and even though you've got earbuds in, he still talks to you in the middle of your set. The dick is no one's friend.

2. Don't Rest On The Equipment:
Even I do this, and I really try not to. Resting on the equipment, especially when you're at the gym during busy hours, is like being the selfish three-year old at day care hogging the 'good' blocks. If you notice someone hovering around, and they may not be right on top of you, get up and stretch. If they come over and ask to work in, let them. So what? You're going to rest between sets anyway, might as well let someone else get their work out done in a timely manner.

3. Change Back Settings:
If someone does allow you to work in between their sets, be the cool kid and set their weight and seat settings back to where they were at before you sat down. The seat settings might be tricky, but if you change them drastically, try to put it back as close as possible. Take note of what weight they were using, and set it back to that weight when you're done your set. They'll be sure to set yours back for you in return.

4. Wipe Down The Equipment:
As aforementioned, no one likes to sit in someone else's sweaty leavings. Nothing is less attractive than grabbing a handhold or bar or whatever, and seeing a big sweaty paw print on it. No one likes to climb up on the treadmill and see it soaked in your spray. So take a few seconds, get a towel, and wipe it down before the next guy uses it.

5. Be a Good Spotter:
If someone asks you to spot them, be a good spotter by being attentive and encouraging. Someone's trusting you to make sure they don't get hurt, so in the very least pull the plugs out of your ears and be focused on them. It's ok to give them encouragement as well, but watch what you say. Acceptable words or phrases would be "c'mon up", "go, push", or "almost there." Unacceptable words or phrases would be something like "Yeah baby, push it up there" and "Mmm yeah feel it, dig deep" because you'd sound like a total fag.

6. Eye Contact:
Don't make it with anyone. Ever. Especially if you're spotting them.

7. The Opposite Sex:
In 2007, chicks go to the gym too. It's usually considered poor taste to try to flirt with someone at the gym because we're all supposed to be there to be working out, not hooking up. But if someone does catch your eye (and on that, don't stare. A casual glance is acceptable), either if you're a guy or a girl, it's ok to talk to them in a non-threatening way. Bring up something about the excersise you're doing and ask how you can improve on it - ask for tips. Do not try to inform them of what they're doing. No one likes unsolicited advice. And wait until their done their set. If the other party is receptive, then take it from there as you normally would. If they kinda brush you off, because they're at a gym and not at a bar, walk away and get back to work.

Remember guys, you're basically looking at a chick as she would appear during rough doggystyle sex. Be a gentleman and try not to point that out as an ice breaker.

8. Cell Phones:
Most gyms today have policies restricting cell phone use on their property, so adhere to this. If your gym doesn't have a policy in place, do not, and I repeat, do not use your phone in the gym area. If you have to make/take a call do it outside. It's annoying for one, to have to listen to someone on the phone while you're working out, two how do I know you're not taking a picture of me while I look like I'm engaging in rough doggystyle sex? I don't.

9. Know your limits:
Don't push it. Grunting isn't sexy nor is leaving the gym on a stretcher because you've blown your testicles through your scrotum. No one likes to have to stop in mid set to save your ass because you had too much pride to ask for a spot. Also, no one likes to have to slow down their set to watch you struggle with weight that's too much for you to handle, in case you drop a bench bar across your throat. My tip for picking the best weight to work out with: Go up to an easy weight, where it's no problem for you to do ten reps, then simply add five to ten pounds to that weight. You'll have just enough resistance to build muscle without looking like a jackass who's trying too hard. No one's impressed, because no one's looking at you. Trust me.

10. Being a Regular:
If you find yourself at the gym more than three times a week, it's safe to say you've established yourself as a regular. Being a regular is nice because you get to know the people at the gym. But don't let it go to your head and turn you into a dick. Gyms are public places, open to whoever want to join. Remember, you were once the new guy that people wondered about too. If you notice someone new and they seem to be lost or confused by the equipment, no one says you can't walk up and introduce yourself. Ask if there's anything they need help with, or just offer a spot if they need one later. Having a friend at the gym is helpful and prevents you from looking like a total tool who lifts too much.

I hope these tips help give you some insight into behavior, acceptable and unacceptable, at your local gym. I can only educate, it's up to you guys to put it into practice.

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