There’s a fine line between making eye contact and giving a head nod–whether it’s to the music in your ears or to the person who caught you looking–and inappropriately staring at someone at the gym. Let’s face it. Everyone is at the gym for a different reasons and each person has different levels of experience, knowledge, and good ol’ fashioned home training–or the lack thereof.
So, the next time you’re at the gym, please keep a few things in mind as you get your workout on.
Do not step on someone’s exercise mat. That’s just plain out rude.
Speaking of exercise mats, when you’re done, clean it off and put it back where you found it. It is simply disgusting to put back a sweaty mat.
Unload and re-stack weight plates on exercise equipment. Everyone can’t lift a 5, 10, 20, 30+ pound weight. Plus, stop inconveniencing someone else’s gym flow by making them waste time unloading your weights.
Try your best not to walk in front of someone who is noticeably looking at a mirror to help improve their exercise form.
Do not take photos of yourself or your friends with other people you do not know in the background. Better yet. If you do need your phone, don’t use it to take photos at the gym. Go ahead and use it for music and other fitness apps, but please do your best to minimize taking photos. It’s an unnecessary distraction to others.
Clean equipment after use. See #2.
Respect everyone’s purpose at the gym. Do not judge fitness levels and motivation based on size, clothing and/or perceived ethnicity, gender, or ability. You do you. Let the person next to you do their thing. If anything, encourage and uplift one another. Oftentimes, it takes a tremendous amount of energy just getting to the gym.
If you see someone struggling with lifting a weight, please don’t ignore them. HELP them! Of course, it’s not your job to spot strangers, but come on… it’s just the right thing to do.
Share equipment. Don’t stay on the elliptical forever and don’t put your towel on the bench, your water bottle next to the rowing machine, and your notebook on the calf machine to “mark” your territory at the gym. Inform others about working into your set. It is possible to stay focused, be efficient, and share equipment.
Hygiene. Hygiene. Hygiene. Just let that marinate for a minute. Wash your hands. Don’t come to the gym sick and spread germs. Use deodorant. See #2 & #6.
Use your inside voice. Yelling can often times scare others and inadvertently make someone drop a weight and hurt themselves or trigger PTSD and other mental illnesses. Breathe, yes. Small grunts, sure. Yelling and blatantly dropping heavy weights, no. No bueno. If you love yelling and dropping heavy weights, find a gym that embraces that culture. Yes, there are gyms where yelling and dropping heavy weights are the norm.
Remember, group fitness classes are for the group. Don’t go to group fitness classes and insist on doing your own thing for the entire class. Trying to outshine others or up the instructor is not a good look.
Speaking of group fitness classes, arrive early if you’re new or have a recent injury. Let the instructor know so they can properly set you up on equipment and safely modify any exercises for you during class.
If you don’t know how to use a piece of equipment, ask a staff member. Why set yourself up for a potential injury? Grab a trainer and ask them to show you how to use it. Can’t find anyone? Don’t use it. Perhaps you can schedule a quick appointment with a trainer the next time you’re at them gym to show you how to use it.
Do not wear your street shoes and/or clothes in the sauna. Better yet, shower or rinse off prior to going in. It’s just plain out nasty to go in the sauna fully clothed, dirty shoes on the benches, and funky. The sauna is hot and a breeding site for bacteria to multiply. Why bring in extra cooties into this space? Also, the temperature in a sauna is 100+ degrees. It’s not safe to wear all of those clothes in such an environment. You could overheat. The heat will open your pores. If you don’t shower beforehand, any and all lotions, deodorants, fragrances, and germs will seep inside your skin. Nasty, huh? Read more about why and how to use a sauna.
What have you seen or experienced that needs to be added to this list? Let us know!
Picture yourself in a group fitness class or on the training floor at your local gym. What do you see? Let me tell you what I see…sweat dripping, yelling or grunting with little starbursts of saliva escaping the mouth, water bottles being quickly picked up, sipped (and often slightly spilled) and tossed back down, the occasional sneeze or cough into a hand followed by grabbing a dumbbell, holding onto handle bars in cycling class, and holding child’s pose face down on a yoga mat that may have been sweated, coughed, or sneezed upon during the previous class.
All of these fluids—sweat, saliva, mucus—that trickle out of body are considered droplets. And guess what?
No need to panic. Let’s just look a little closer at what the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) specifically says about droplets and the transmission of infectious diseases, Ebola in particular.
Don’t freak out. All we need to do is what we should have already been doing in the first place.
- Wash your hands.
- Avoid touching your mouth, eyes, and nose.
- Regularly disinfect surfaces.
- Avoid close contact with sick people.
See full detailed list of recommendations on the CDC website.
Here are a 6 tips to minimize your risk for Ebola and other viruses at the gym.
- Properly wrap or cover any open wounds prior to working out.
- Dedicate time to wash your hands after your workout and before you leave the gym.
- Make sure your gym has cleaning materials (preferably disposable, single use disinfectant wipes or paper towels and disinfectant spray) and you know how to access them.
- Arrive to group exercise class a few minutes early to properly wipe down and clean any equipment.
- Clean all gym equipment prior to use (and afterwards—it’s common courtesy and proper gym etiquette).
- Avoid close contact with anyone sick.
Remember, you cannot catch Ebola from food, water, or air. (1)
Also, a person needs to be symptomatic in order to transmit the virus. And more than likely, if a person is symptomatic, exercising may be the last thing s/he feels like doing.
(1) Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2014). Ebola. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/pdf/infections-spread-by-air-or-droplets.pdf
Related articles about Ebola and fitness:
Banks, S. (2014). Irrational Ebola fears make life difficult for Liberians in the U.S. LA Times.
Boseley, S. (2014, October 13). How to avoid being infected with Ebola. The Guardian.
Kylstra, C. (2014, September 30). Questions about the Ebola virus that you’ve probably already googled this week. Women’s Health Magazine.
McNeil, Jr., D. G. (2014, October 3). Ask well: How does Ebola spread? How long can the virus survive? The New York Times.
Additional information about Ebola:
As of October 25, 2014, the Center for Disease and Control and Prevention reported the following total Ebola virus case count numbers:
- Total cases: 10141
- Laboratory-Confirmed Cases: 5692
- Total deaths: 4922
The United States, in particular, has experienced four reported, four laboratory-confirmed cases, and one death caused by the Ebola virus. Although all four Ebola cases in the U.S. were travel-associated with individuals traveling from highly impacted areas and “localized transmission” upon return, we all must take precautions to minimize transmission.