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2016 Rules of Gym Etiquette for Newbies and Salty Dogs

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January means different things to different people. For some it's a long month with only one holiday (Martin Luther King Jr. Day), for others it's about back to work or school after holiday bliss. But for some it's an even more dreaded month. It's the month of New Year Resolutioners taking up space in your favorite gym (including the parking lot and the locker room). Most veteran gym-goers know the drill and count the days until Valentine's Day when most of the new meat gets fried and fizzles out.

But what if you are the new meat? Are you equipped to handle the glares and rolling eye when you make a faux pas? Or are you the one mad dogging and gym-timidating the well-intentioned new members?

Whichever side of the fence you're on here are my 2016 Rules of Gym Etiquette for both the newcomers and salty dogs.


1. To the Sweaty Betties and Wet Willies, remember to wipe it down. Cardinal sin number one is walking away from your bench or cardio machine after you made it rain. Use a real towel, not your t-shirt to wipe up your fluids. Many gyms provide sanitary wipes. Use them!

2. Cool it on the cologne. Some people smell funky, that's a given. Covering it up with perfume or cologne and adding a hefty heaping of sweat is only going to make it worse. If the person next to you is tilting their head away, covering their face or dry heaving, that's a strong clue that you got some serious funk. Consider a quick, invigorating shower before you workout. And just because your perfume costs $100 an ounce, it doesn't mean the person next to you wants to take a whiff.

3. The giant sign on the mirror above the weight rack says, "Please Re-rack your weights." Just do it. In January, there are rarely enough pairs of the most popular weight dumbbells (10's to 25's usually) for everyone to use at peak time. Leaving them on the floor can cause an accident. Leaving them on the other side of the gym causes people to get pissed and waste time hunting them down.

4. Love yourself in private. You should be proud of yourself for a job well done. Goal accomplished. Abs rippling under your sweat even in the fluorescent light. But hiking up your shirt and doing the "pose down" in public while your bud shoots it for your Instagram page is just obnoxious. If a selfie is a must, be inconspicuous or do it in your bathroom like normal people do.

5. Understand the concept of "personal space." The gym is not a subway car at rush hour, even if you just got out of one. If you're lucky enough to be at the gym at an off hour and there is a row of available cardio machines, don't get on the one right next to someone else. It's just weird. If you're trying to hit on them, wait for them to finish. Hint to men: most women HATE when guys try to hit at them during their workouts.

6. Don't cause a group fitness fiasco. If you're not going to follow the instructor's routine, don't position yourself in the front row. Whether it's cycling, dance or other type of conditioning class, if you're doing your own thing, do it far in the back or better yet, outside. Most experienced instructors have learned how to tune out the class disruptors. But sometimes they will have a hissy fit and call you out. Moreover, it really does distract everyone else in the class. If you think your routine is better than the instructors', fill out an application to teach at the gym.

7. Practice cell phone celibacy. Nobody wants to hear your conversation while they're working out. 'Nuff said.

8. Wow, I'm so impressed... not. Grunting, groaning and dropping weights is just telling everyone you need attention. Sure, when you're working your hardest, sounds will come out, and occasionally you will put the weights down ungracefully. But excessive noise is just rude.

9. "Working in." If someone asks if they can "work in with you," the only suitable responses are: "Yes," "This is my last set," or "I just finished, it's all yours." You may not sit on a bench doing nothing or while you're choosing a filter for your latest selfie. If you aren't using the equipment and others are waiting, you let them work in or hurry up and finish.

10. Check your wardrobe from various angles before heading out onto the gym floor. If not, you may find yourself on one of those websites featuring "wardrobe malfunctions" or "fails."

11. Do some sessions with a trainer when you begin. Nothing says "hey look at me, I'm new" faster than using equipment wrong, which can hurt you or worse, land you front and center on a "gym fails" website or youtube.

12. The showers are for showering. If you've been a gym rat long enough, you've heard of some strange goings on by now at "that gym." What I'm referring to is taking your entire gym bag into a shower stall when others are waiting. Shower in the shower, get dressed in the locker or changing room. What happened in the shower at that gym.... Well that's a whole different post.

13. If you are one of the newbie's, don't be shy about asking someone on staff for help. And finally, if you are a salty dog, be supportive and encouraging of the new members. Remember you were in their shoes once too.

Got peeves? Share with me below!

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