An Open Letter to Our New Friends at the Gym

Dear New Friends at the Gym,

Hooray for you! You have made a New Year’s Resolution to get into shape after spending two months eating sausage stuffing and the like! What a great life choice! Again I say: hooray!

But, gosh, there sure are a lot of you, which means that those of us who were members of the gym before New Year’s Day are finding that our regular established workout routines are being disrupted by the sheer volume of bodies attempting to share what suddenly seems like a woefully inadequate quantity of equipment and space.

That’s okay, though, most of the time, since there is a communal element to the workout process, and folks here and at most other gyms are generally pretty willing to share and work with other folks to make sure that we all get to achieve what we came in to do.

Except, of course, when you’re a jerk.

How do you know if this applies to you? Here are some tips to help you decide:

1. If you sit on the benchpress bench texting people on your iToy, then you are a jerk.

2. If you frantically high-step in place next to someone using a piece of equipment, because your workout is so riveting that you can’t possibly let your heart-rate drop, even for 30 seconds, then you are a jerk.

3. Likewise if you sprint between pieces of equipment in a crowded gym, or lay down in the middle of the floor in the main traffic aisle for an impromptu emergency set of crunches, because you are so intense that you just can’t stop the burn. Well guess what? These things make you a jerk.

4. If you feel compelled to loudly fling your free weight bar down after you complete a clean and jerk move, the way they do it on the Olympics, then you are a jerk. Unless you’re going to the Olympics, and having watched your clean and jerk technique, I’m betting a years’ paycheck that you’re not.

5. Sure, babysitting is expensive. But that’s why they have that indoor track, right? So your little ones can play tag and do cheerleading routines and generally run themselves out so you can get them right to bed when you get home? Survey says: Wrong, you jerk.

6. Phew, you sure do get sweaty after a long workout! You’d better lay down on one of the benches for awhile, and then not wipe it off, just so everybody can see what kind of glisten you’ve got going. The next person will love it when they sit down in your puddle! That doesn’t make you a jerk, does it? (Answer: yes it does).

7. Don’t homestead with your homeboys: sure, you may have joined all together, and sure, it may be fun to see how much each of you can do on the leg press, but that doesn’t mean you collectively get to turn that piece of equipment into your private Clubhouse, glaring at folks who might want to do some reps, rather than just straining to press 250 pounds once, and then leaping up to high five your posse. That makes you jerk, jerk, jerk, jerk and jerk. Jerks, for short.

There’s plenty of other things that folks do at the gym that are annoying, even folks who have been there for a long time (please feel free to share your observations of similar egregious behavior in the comments section below). But at least now I’ve given you some tips and pointers of things to avoid, and if you adopt a good neighbor, good steward approach to your gym experience, you’ll look like a regular in no time, and you’ll find your workouts are far better because you’ll be a part of a community of folks who like and respect you, not folks who find you bothersome and gauche.

Who knows? You might even last longer than the usual three weeks if you make an effort to play well in the proverbial sandbox with others.

Thank you for your consideration and attention to this matter.



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