Problem: It’s morning rush hour at the club, and your fellow members are taking their sweet time on the equipment.
Solution: “Are you almost through?” is a reasonable question to ask of someone who seems to be overstaying. If the person refuses to yield or the problem is chronic (say, there are never enough machines), go to a manager. “Management can initiate a sign-up system and make sure someone is on the floor to enforce the rules. Or they can buy more equipment,” says Abdilla. If you don’t see improvement, “you can change the time you work out, or you can change clubs."
Problem: You worked out and feel great, then you enter the locker room and find other people’s clothes spread over the benches and cosmetics covering the counters by the mirrors.
Solution: Ask nicely if the offenders can move their belongings. But brace yourself: “Some women get very territorial about their space in the locker room,” says Abdilla. If you’re not in the mood for push-back, go elsewhere. If you enter a shower on the heels of someone who has left an empty shampoo bottle in the stall, stay mum. Because challenging people about their personal habits is tricky, you should alert the manager.
Problem: You’re entering the zone when someone you hardly know tries to strike up a conversation with you―or perhaps there’s a loud conversation nearby―and that knocks you off your exercise high.
Solution: “Make no eye contact” with overfriendly members, says Spencer Tilmon, a master trainer at Bally’s Total Fitness in St. Paul. Or explain that you’re in the middle of something and don’t want to be interrupted. When the problem is someone else’s loud chitchat on the gym floor or in class, bring the issue to a trainer. “You can try the whole dirty-looks thing, but usually people aren’t bright enough to realize you’re doing it,” says Bernie Bernbrock, an instructor for New York Sports Clubs in West Caldwell, New Jersey. “I can tell people to be quiet. I want people to feel they have friends, but there’s a line that needs to be drawn.”