Good manners at the gym are sometimes hard to come by. With more than 45 million Americans belonging to fitness centers across the country, many get a little too close for comfort with people who simply don't abide by gym etiquette.
We wondered what would happen when we pushed the boundaries of what people find acceptable at a gym, to the point where it actually interrupted another's workout.
We set up our hidden cameras at the East Islip Health and Fitness Center in Long Island, N.Y. Dan, an actor, plays our rude gym member, oblivious to any of the unspoken rules of the gym.
"Got one more on that…" he says to John Bilello, a longtime fitness center member who wants to use a Nautilus machine Dan's just worked a set on.
A few seconds later, Dan's cell phone rings. But instead of taking the call outside and allowing someone else to use the machine … he simply carries on with his conversation right then and there. It's a classic case of ignoring gym etiquette. You know the other types too: the loud talker, the sneezer, off-key singer, and of course, the over-the-top grunter. Today, Dan is going for the Royal Flush.
"Yeah, I'm at the gym… It's a good workout today," Dan says into his cell phone.
"Hey, can I work in there while you're on the phone?" asks John once more when Dan stops his conversation.
"I'm sending a text, sorry," replies Dan, without missing a beat.
"I just want to bang three sets out… You are not supposed to monopolize one piece of equipment!" says John, becoming more and more irritated.
"It's just one set," Dan says.
But, despite John's protests, Dan will not let go of his machine. His one set has become many more, and time just keeps ticking away for our agitated gym member.
"I never saw anyone do a hundred sets on their abs before," John says.
"That's 'cause nobody works out like me…" boasts Dan, and then, as if he weren't pushing it already, he adds, "Can you help me count?"
By now, it's been nearly 20 minutes. And for John, enough is enough.
"Listen to me -- stop your stupid exercises. Stop your stupid exercises…"
John grabs the machine and stops Dan mid-workout.
"If you're gonna be a member of this gym, you gotta go by what we say here!" John says.
At this point, our security guard decides to step in… and for good reason. This would not be the first time a confrontation at the gym has become physical, and, with Americans spending more than $19 billion a year on memberships, probably not the last. Last year, a stockbroker at a New York health club was sued after he pulled another man off a bicycle and slammed him into a wall. He said he got fed up with his offensive behavior.
"How disruptive is it when he monopolizes a piece of equipment?" asks "What Would You Do?" host John Quinones, after explaining to the frustrated bystander this was all just a staged scenario.
"That was rude, that was just plain rude. At one point I said… do you mind if I work in with you, and he jumped back on it and started doing his ab routine again, did another 50 reps!" John Bilello said.
But monopolizing gym equipment wasn't Dan's only fitness faux pas of the day. We tried our scenario again, this time with Dan attracting the attention of two gym members working out together: both were easily twice his size and were completely incredulous about Dan's behavior. Then, in our second part, what happens when we bring two loud, disruptive actresses into a live gym class?