According to a recent study by the University of Scranton, nearly 38 percent of New Year’s resolutions include weight-related and fitness goals. The “new year, new you” gym mantra is everywhere, and people are ready to take on healthy habits and gain fitness finesse. For those of you hitting the gym, here are tips to help make 2017 your best year of wellness:
- If you use it, you wipe it. From weight machines to the treadmill screen, if you’ve used a gym apparatus then it’s also your responsibility to wipe it off for the next equipment-user. Most gyms have anti-bacterial wipe stations, so use these and keep your perspiration to yourself.
- Keep your eyes on your own workout. Ogling someone’s intense cardio routine or even absentmindedly watching your neighbor while you wait for a machine to free up are fitness faux pas. This can make fellow gym-goers uncomfortable, and create a stressful environment in a place where many go to decompress. Focus on your own workout, and resist the urge to let your eyes wander.
- Respect silent signals. Headphones, avoiding eye contact, and choosing secluded gym areas are all definite signs that someone wants to be left alone. Many people consider the gym as a personal space where they can focus on wellness and fitness-without detours to chat. If you do run it to a colleague or friend, a simple acknowledgment is appropriate.
- Keep hygiene in check Everyone in a communal fitness area appreciates cleanliness and good hygiene. Perspiration is inevitable, however, we can avoid unpleasant body odor by applying deodorant before a workout and taking care of personal hygiene.
- Breathing room Remember the importance of personal space, to avoid crowding fellow gym-goers. If most of the treadmills are open, for example, move down a row or two to give others breathing room. If you’re waiting on a weight machine, why hover around the current user? Wait patiently to the side, and take over when you’re sure that they’ve finished.
- Be Early. When attending group classes, arrive 5-10 minutes early to find a space, lay down your water, yoga mat, etc. Don’t barge in two minutes late and expect the instructor to accommodate you; be courteous to those in the class by being on time and ready to go.
- Selfie Etiquette. Officially added to the Merriam-Webster dictionary in 2014, selfies are a common occurrence in today’s society, especially in a body-focused environment like the gym. Before posting your #gymselfie, keep these in mind:
Keep it out of the locker room. Absolutely no selfies in the locker room. Many gyms already have rules and signs up prohibiting photos in this safe space. In 2016, the L.A. City Attorney filed invasion of privacy charges against a woman for photos of another gym-goer posted to social media.
Double check the background. While you may not be in the locker room or other safe spaces, double check to make sure you won’t accidentally snap a shot of someone nearby. While you may be camera ready, the person on the stair machine behind you most likely isn’t.
Work harder in the gym than on the pose. Don’t spend the majority of your workout snapping pictures. Take a few, then focus on why you are there. If you don’t get that perfect IG post, no worries- you’ll be back.
- BE KIND. Everyone in the gym has the same goal: to better themselves. Others use this space to decompress. Do not judge someone by how much time they are, or are not, in the gym. Whether you consider yourself a fitness professional, fitness freak, fitness fan, or just a regular gym-goer, consider it your responsibility to encourage anyone that wants to make a change. Each person’s ideal body is unique and to be respected.
A healthy gym culture welcomes new and returning gym-goers. By being respectful to those around you and taking advantage of all the benefits that the gym has to offer, 2017 can be your best year of fitness!
Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is a cross-cultural consultant, an international protocol expert and the founder of Protocol & Etiquette Worldwide. She is accredited in intercultural management, is the resident etiquette expert for CBS Austin’s We Are Austin, regularly quoted by BBC Capital, Investor’s Business Daily, Fortune, The New York Times, and numerous other media. She is the best-selling, international award-winning author of Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Business Guide, named to Kirkus Review’s Best Books of 2015 and recipient of the British Airways International Trade, Investment & Expansion Award at the 2016 Greater Austin Business Awards.