Between work, home life and plain old laziness, making time for the gym can seem like enough of an annoyance in the average person’s life. But compound that with the litany of annoying things other gym goers routinely engage in, and it comes as little surprise that the gym can seem like less a place to decompress and more something to be avoided.
“The problem with these [annoying behaviours] is that when you do it you think you’re the exception and that you have extenuating circumstances that permit it, but when others do it, they’re bad people by definition,” says Kathleen Trotter, a personal trainer and author of Finding Your Fit. “Not everyone can be an exception, even you.”
The experts weighed in on some of the most annoying things people do at the gym and why they should stop.
Not wiping down equipment after using it
This is a pretty obvious one for a pretty obvious reason — it’s gross.
“I don’t want to get into how bacteria gets transferred between people and the health hazards it can cause, but aside from that, there’s no reason not to wipe it down — there are towelettes everywhere,” says Alex Cibiri, owner of Element CrossFit in Toronto. “The same goes with the floor. You don’t have to clean it to a janitorial level, but be considerate of the person coming in after you and wipe it up.”
Not tidying up after yourself
Just as your roommate or partner wouldn’t want to trip over your shoes every time they go to the bathroom, your fellow gym goers don’t want to have to put away your weights when you’re done with them. It comes down to consideration.
“It’s definitely a hazard because someone can trip over them and hurt themselves,” Cibiri says. “But if I’m going to be using that space next, the odds that I’m going to use the same equipment as the person before me are very slim. I’ll have to first clean up their equipment and then get mine. That’s twice as much work for me.”
Using the gym as your office
Everyone is busy and sometimes you can’t dedicate an hour to working out without checking in at the office, but that doesn’t give you permission to conduct a meeting on the treadmill.
“I’ve heard people having conference calls and work meetings while doing cardio, and it’s really annoying,” Trotter says. “That’s a perfect example of someone being very entitled to the sound and space around them.”
That also applies to playing music too loudly. Some people really do use the gym as a meditative space — your thumping music and rambling discussion about fiscal reports is disruptive.
Chatting during a class
If you haven’t seen your friend in a long time or going to the gym is how you hang out, it can be very difficult to refrain from having a catch-up conversation during a fitness class. But the experts say it’s more than just annoying to the people around you.
“As an instructor, it’s very disruptive and disjointing for the class,” Trotter says.
Use the time before or after class to catch up with your pal.
Hanging out on equipment between sets
Your downtime is not the same as someone else’s.
“Sitting on a machine and answering texts or checking emails is really inconsiderate,” says Maureen Hagan, vice-president of program innovation and fitness development at CanFitPro. “Mind the fact that others want to use that equipment.”
It also comes down to mindfulness. Hagan suggests forgetting about emails and social media for a while, and just focus on your workout.
Owning space that isn’t yours
This is especially true for fitness classes where regulars might choose the same spot every time, thus making them feel as though it’s theirs by right.
“Sometimes people think they’re owed a spot in the front of the class because they go to it all the time. I’ve had to break up altercations,” Hagan says. “It’s very awkward for the instructor to manage that kind of situation while trying to prepare for the class.”
This also applies to cardio equipment that has a time-limit.
“You have space in the gym along with others and when you get on a treadmill, respect the time. If you want to go longer than the allotted 30 minutes, get off that treadmill and move to another one.”
Soliciting free advice from trainers
Aside from being sneaky it’s also potentially incriminating for the gym.
“People will ask how to bulk up or how to lose weight, and they want that advice fast and for free. But it’s annoying because if it doesn’t work, they’ll turn around and blame the information they received,” Hagan says.
The best way to get helpful advice from a trainer is to book a session. Through a series of questions, a trainer will be able to determine what works best for you and put together a program tailored to your needs.
Not taking weights off equipment
This comes down to safety for your fellow gym goers.
“I’ve seen really big, strong people put a lot of weight on the leg press or the squat rack, use it and then walk away without taking those big weights off,” says Dave Smith, owner of MakeYourBodyWork.com. “Then the next person who goes to use it has to unload hundreds of pounds. It could cause that person to injure their back.”
Taking selfies or recording your workout
The experts can’t stress this enough: the gym is not your personal recording studio.
“Don’t record your workout or interrupt someone else’s workout to take your picture,” Cibiri cautions. “This isn’t a television studio. I’ve seen people prop up their phone on an angle to shoot something and then get mad when someone walks past. This isn’t your private space.”
That also goes for gym selfies. No one wants to watch you preen in front of the mirror while they’re working out. What’s more, they don’t want to get snapped in the background and put on social media.
Commenting on someone else’s workout
“One of my favourite lines is ‘you gotta stay in your own lane,'” Trotter says. Which means, don’t get involved in someone else’s workout even if you think they’re doing something wrong.
“You don’t know why a person is doing something or who trained them. They could be doing an exercise for rehabilitation purposes. What may look wrong to you could be the right exercise for them.”