Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Gym Dandy

I confess...I've never used the phrase "Jim Dandy" but I was trying to think of a title and that's what came. I have been a regular at many gyms: UVA student gym, a women-only gym in Charlottesville (it was just cheaper area gyms), multiple branches of LA Fitness in Atlanta, the Weymouth branch of Boston Sports Club, a resident gym in my Quincy apartment building, and a non-chain gym here in PA. So, I am going to lay forth some rules, both for gym-goers and the gyms. This list is in no way comprehensive...not even close. I'm sure I'll want to come back and add on as soon as I hit "publish" but I'll restrain myself b/c that might be a never-ending cycle.

The format is b/c can't get multiple "levels" of bullets to work...imagine what I'd do if I could!! Another ransom note: My very first blog entry was another rules post (public transit focused).

Rules for Gym-Goers
  • Some nudity in the locker room is a necessity. And I totally get blow-drying your hair in a bra and slacks...I have thick hair, it gets HOT under there. But locker room nudity should be functional and kept to a minimum. I admire your body confidence but I don't need a show.
  • There are reasonable priced gym clothes available (Target is a great option). Please purchase them. I've accepted that some people disagree on the need for a gym wardrobe and can deal with some street clothes but still get amazed. Recently, it was a guy in slacks, a button-down work shirt, and a leather belt. A friend shared seeing a guy in a sweater! It baffles me. I'll credit my friend with noting that it poses a danger to the rest of us...cause it is bad of get the giggles while bench-pressing.
  • I'm not a germ-freak. I actually don't always see the need for wiping off a treadmill (you don't touch much of it, unlike a bike or something). But, if you are wiping down equipment (and you SHOULD in the right cases), please don't use your towel on your face and then use the same towel on the equipment...especially w/o any cleaning spray. I know the other direction would be icky to the wiper-person, so try two towels or a paper one for the equipment.
  • You have a lovely singing voice. I don't need to hear it when I'm working out.
  • Smoking is bad for you, but you know that. I won't lecture you. But please wait till after the workout to indulge...breathing is kinda important at the gym and hard to do when there's a human ashtray a few feet away.
  • I do weights and I know they are good for me (and vital to the return of my cute triceps) but I don't like them much so I do like to get through them. Sometimes, I'll switch between two exercises, like a shoulder move and a tricep move, to use time efficiently. This can require having two sets of weight handy. That's well and good. But keeping possession of more than two sets is just selfish as wrong. It's like draping your belongings across four machines at once.
  • I kinda like that my current gym schedule puts me there with the senior set. They smile and I like that they give an air of working out for health rather than vanity. While I'm a solitary gym-rat, I understand that the gym is often a social event, especially for this crowd. It's fine that you want to chat and catch up but please be considerate. Don't sit on the leg press machine and talk for 20 minutes about the Eagles. And keep an eye out, there's a restroom near the aerobics room in my current gym and it is often blocked by folks waiting for their "Silver Sneakers" class and they tend not to notice the dark haired gal trying to get around them.
  • Ladies -- I get that in the afternoon/evening, you might be coming from work and have make-up on. But I'm pretty sure some of you are putting it on before the gym....I get feeling good about yourself at the gym but limit it to some foundation or the like (I don't "speak" makeup...). It isn't a fashion show.
  • I've been known to breathe loud or even make an audible grunt when finishing out a set. But let's be reasonable folks. Being able to hear you across the room is not reasonable.
  • This is not a rule but one of my favorite tips. Ladies -- if you can find one, the gym that caters to gay men is the best thing ever. A compliment is always just a compliment. No one cares about how you look...but there's often quite a lot of nice eye-candy for you :)
Rules for Gyms
  • Okay, you need to make money. I get that. And resolution-season is a boon. And lots of newbies will drop out in a month or so. But there needs to be a limit on sales. In Atlanta, I sear I'd have to wait a half-hour in line to use a treadmill with a 20 minute time limit. I'd like to suggest a "go to the front of the line" card for longer-term folks but I do see that one isn't too likely.
  • Day care options are great and I know they are vital to lots of gym-goers. I like that you have them. But please put a bathroom in the daycare area. At most gyms, the bathrooms are through the locker rooms. There's an age at which kids still need watching but are a bit too old to cross through the opposite sex locker room (w/ a parent or the care-giving-employee). It doesn't bother me in a typical restroom, there are doors there (well, at least for ladies) and I get not wanting to send a 6 year old alone. But the locker room is another story.
  • I've never been a "pink girl" but I don't hold anything against those who are. I know that sometimes the smaller dumbells (3-7.5 lb-ers) are bought separately from the main set. And I know that women are generally the ones who use them, both because we naturally have less muscle mass and because some women have a heavy weights phobia. It still bugs the feminist (I may do a post on what that means someday) part of me when the little weights are pink.
  • Member appreciation days are nice. Some cut veggies or a new logo-ed water bottle would be lovely. But big hoagies, burritos, and cookies are just wrong. I battle tempting food enough (at one gym, I had to walk past a Moe's and a Coldstone Creamery), I don't need to deal with it INSIDE the gym. And the ban goes double, maybe triple, for food that SMELLS tempting.
  • Employees shouldn't hover. I know you want to push personal training but I don't need frequent sales pitches. But they should be present. I don't want tips, but sometimes someone "official" needs to warn a member doing something really dangerous. And sometimes I just need someone to change the channel. I'm devoted to the treadmill but I need entertainment.
  • Not a rule, but just something that would be nice. Most gyms have a little vanity area for post-workout primping. It would make me smile if they left a few hair bands there. I know you can't anticipate everything I might forget (I've neglected a sports bra and even a left sneaker) but I know that my hair tie is vital and is probably the most forgotten item for ladies. I've given one out more than once, in exchange for the promise that the recipient do the same one day. Cheap-o ones are fine, because I can totally see folks stealing them, but I'd love a gym that anticipated the need.
  • Broken climate control qualifies as a gym emergency. That problem was largely an issue in my apartment gym. I get that it isn't of the same rank there that it would be at a "real" gym but, when it is 95 degrees...or 3 degrees, it can render the gym useless. One branch of my Atlanta gym also had climate control issues several times. In the summer. In Atlanta.
Yeah, nowhere near complete....
This isn't a tip but something I want to say. I'd like to say I don't notice when a larger person is at the gym...people say that when overweight folks are nervous about starting to workout...but it isn't true. I do notice. But it is with awe and admiration. I know it is harder for people with a significant weight issue to go to a gym, both emotionally and physically. I know it takes more work for them...I couldn't go as fast on the treadmill with a 75lb backpack on. I want you to know that I know it takes an extra effort. And that I admire you so much for it. I won't tell you, because I feel like it won't come out right, but I think you rock.


lee said...

I think that there needs to be a long time member reward system where you have certain treadmills with longer time limits. I've been a member of LA Fitness for 8 years and I think I deserve more treadmill time than Joe Shmoe that's going to stop going after a month. Call me bitter.

Righteous Runner said...


I have almost the exact same list of complaints, I mean suggestions.

I'd like to add something about cologne and perfume usage before working out. I almost gagged one night when some guy had just sprayed AX (or some similiar cheap smell) before jumping on the treadmill next to me.

-Totally agree on the member reward system at LA Fitness. I think you should get points docked for breaking any of Cheryls' rules above.

The Rambling Blogger said...

LA Fitness was BY FAR the worst offender in overselling...other places saw an uptick w/ the Resolution crowd but nowhere near the endless lines at LA Fitness....30min in line and then the 20min limit...I get pissy just remembering.

Finesse said...

Seriously, free ice cream at the gym?!? I guess they want you to have to come back to work it off.

Your lists validate my decision not to join anywhere. I figure I can do almost as well for free at home, and it's good to know there's a whole lot with which I'm glad I don't have to deal.

Anonymous said...

Right on - perhaps these suggestions can be given to your gym - at least the ones they can control. Let's all be part of the solution.

I could not imagine waiting for a treadmill. Guess I am spoiled. I also admire seeing very overweight people at the gym. Often, I do not come across the same person frequently however. It must be so hard continually stepping through that door.

You gave us much to think about, Cheryl. Thanks.