Coping With Bad Behavior at the Gym
Problem: As you work yourself into an elliptical frenzy, a strong whiff of your most hated perfume (or, worse, body odor) wafts your
way, and you feel as if you’re going to suffocate or faint.
Solution: Move away, if possible. But if you’re stuck in close quarters, there’s little you can do beyond discreetly taking your complaint to a manager. “When the issue is personal grooming, we prefer members to come to us,” says Steven L. Schwartz, chief executive officer of Midtown Athletic Clubs, in Chicago. “It’s uncomfortable for someone to tell another person that he smells bad.” Sometimes the issue is ignorance or, in the case of body odor, inattention. Poquette recalls when one client’s odor lingered long after he had left the room, bothering other clients. “It turns out he would work out and put his clothes in the locker, then put the same clothes back on two days later,” she says. “As soon as someone pointed out the issue, the problem was straightened out. You’d think he could tell, but he was oblivious.”
Problem: As you’re zooming around the machines, which are clearly labeled 1 through 9 for circuit training, you see someone position
herself on the shoulder press―your intended next stop.
Solution: “A certain amount of jumping in on a circuit is acceptable, provided the person doesn’t block someone who’s going through in order,” says Neporent. “If someone is about to block you, you can say, ‘I’m following the circuit, and I’m about to use that machine.’ ” If she blocks you anyway, keep going around and come back to the machine later to maintain the flow of your workout. Circuit etiquette is a bit different from general weight-room etiquette in that you’re expected to let another person use your machine―that is, “work in”―while you rest or do cardio between sets. Should a response to your “May I work in with you?” be less than friendly, simply back off or take the matter to the trainer on duty. You’re not tattling. “Things like that have a way of boiling over in gyms,” says Denis Barry, a co-owner of Edge, a gym in New York City.
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So maybe you can’t change your health overnight. But you can get a head start.