Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Gym Etiquette

I wouldn't call myself a gym junkie, but I do have a slightly addictive relationship to exercise- I just don't feel good without a 4-5 solid workouts a week. I've been to a number of different gyms in various states and cities, and I find that no matter where I go, I can't get away from people doing the same few annoying things. Here they are:

1. Talking on cell phones while using machines. As cell phones have become ubiquitous, people often forget that there is anything strange about talking on the phone in any location or situation, including while on the elliptical machine. My first problem with this is that for many people (including myself), the gym is a place where we can forget about the world (our work, nagging family members, obnoxious co-workers and fellow classmates, etc) while listening to music, watching bad tv and pushing our bodies to their potential. Hearing someone on the next treadmill loudly bitch about their problems on their phone for the entire 45 minutes of your workout cancels out almost all these psychological benefits. Unless it's an emergency, your phone should stay turned off and in your locker. If it is an emergency, why are you at the gym?

2. Women with inadequate chest support. Far too women wear bras that fit and provide sufficient support for exercising. On top of drawing a lot of extra attention to themselves at a time when they probably don't want to be watched, they are putting themselves at risk for developing back problems. No matter what exercise you're doing, your breasts shouldn't really move if you're wearing a good sports bra. For women with a more "modest" bra size, a cheap shelf sports bra in a material that wicks away sweat is fine. If you're on the more "substantial" side, I envy you, but you need to invest in a more supportive bra. About.com has a good list of sports bras for curvier women.

3. Parties on the mat. I think it's a good idea to go to the gym with friends, as many people find this to be a great motivator. What often ends up happening though with groups of women is that they spend a long time chatting in betweenm before or after exercises, particularly on the mat while pretending to stretch. As anyone who's visited a gym during peak hours knows, there is a real estate game at work on the stretching mat. Everyone wants a space that gives them some privacy and room to move around. But when 3 girls take up half the mat while they gossip for 20 minutes while everyone else has to scrunch together, it's not fair. If you do go to the gym with friends, try to be conscious of how much space you're taking up. Also, for the same reasons as the cell phone rules, try to keep your voices down so that other people can focus on their work out or alternatively (and I'm not saying this is me) whether Flava Flav is going to finally get rid of evil New York this episode.

4. Dirty hippies doing cardio. This is a problem that may be limited to Northampton, Massachusetts, Ann Arbor, Michigan and other places where white people with dreadlocks and women who refuse to shave are the norm. I used to have the bad luck to share a similar gym schedule with a woman who did not shower. She and I both preferred the treadmills that face the window, and it seems like I always got to my treadmill 5 minutes before she showed up and took the one next to mine. I would spend an hour breathing out of my mouth because her stench was so bad. So, if any dirty hippies are reading this (which seems unlikely, but hey, who knows), do your fellow exercisers a favor and shower before you go to the gym, even if you don't shower the rest of the time.

Stick to interpretive dance for burning calories.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

hair does not equal uncleanliness. simply because a woman chooses to let her hair grow, as it naturally occurs on her body, for whatever reason, does not mean that she is unclean or smelly or, most importantly, unfeminine.

the association of smooth, unhairy skin with women in particular is a relatively new one-- before the 20s in america, most women lived with hairy armpits. like most other things, the ritual of shaving is based on a social construction of what gender is supposed to be.

that being said, you don't have to decline to shave to be a "true feminist." not shaving is not always a political decision. merely a personal choice. one that should be respected and not ridiculed.

be yourself, and express your opinion. but don't do it at the expense of marginalizing others for a choice they make that happens to go against the norms of society.