Jan. 10, 2013 -- Getting in shape is near the top of everyone's list of New Year's resolutions. That's why the ranks of gym memberships swell by an average of 12 percent every January, according to the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA).
Unfortunately, with such a crowd comes a lot of bad behavior. When we asked readers on social media what bugged them about their fellow gym goers, we got an earful.
Below, we've distilled our reader's thoughts about etiquette breaches in the gym down to the nine most common complaints. See if yours is there. If not, feel free to sound off in the comments section.
And if it makes you feel any better, the IHRSA also reports that 30-45 percent of people cancel their gym memberships within six months. There's no guarantee the towel hog with poor cellphone manners will be one of the dropouts, but at least you'll soon have more room so you can avoid him.
"I can't describe the disgust I feel when I go on a machine or bench following another person and they don't have the courtesy to wipe it down," said blogger Jeff Gordon. Gordon and many others said it shouldn't be too much to ask everyone to carry a towel and wipe off equipment after each use.
There is nothing quite so icky as picking up a slippery weight or lying down in a stranger's pool of sweat. If you forget to bring a towel, use your sweatshirt or the paper towels provided by the club.
In the gym, weight equipment is considered communal property, so don't sit on a machine while you rest between sets. It's common courtesy to stand up and let a fellow gym member "work in" with you -- that's gym-speak for share nicely. Radio host Jim Rotolo gets especially irritated when a gaggle of gossipers surrounds a machine, thereby blocking its access to others -- and they aren't even using it.
If Space Hogs had an equally evil twin, it would be the pests who hover nearby, ready to pounce the instant you go over the 30 minute time limit on the elliptical machine or who practically snatch the weights out of your hands before you've finished your last rep. Karen Davis Athanassiadis, a student, said she despises "those who with much bravado demand you get off the treadmill!"
Yes, the gym is busy. Politely wait your turn.
Extreme body odor, coffee breath, stinky feet, flatulence, overpowering perfumes. Nuff said.
Save your bathetic blah blah blah for elsewhere. In the gym, no one wants to hear it, especially if you're yakking on a cellphone at a high decibel level about what's for dinner. Chit-chatting seems to be especially prevalent in group fitness classes, forcing some gyms to institute a "no cellphone use while taking class" policy. Instructor Debbie Hanoka insists that no one talk during her classes or she asks the culprit to leave. "It's unbelievably rude," she said.
Exercise Faux Pas
The gym police are watching and they don't like what they see. So if you're lifting more weight than you can handle, walking on the treadmill at 1 mile per hour while flipping through a magazine, or inventing a pointless exercise, please stop. Nothing infuriates nutritionist Tony Ricci more than watching some guy use a massive squat rack for lightweight arm curls. "Curling an Olympic bar with 5-pound plates on each side is a borderline useless movement that can be done anywhere in the gym. It need not be done on a structure meant for real moves like squats, power cleans and deadlifts," he said.
Locker Room Exhibitionists
When you strut around the locker room, construction coordinator Dave Lukas asked, "Is it so hard to put a towel around you waist?!"
While everyone understands you must be nude for some period of time while you change, few have any tolerance for the guy or gal they perceive as remaining on display for too long. It's an even bigger locker room pet peeve than the towel hoarder or the sink slob.
Think twice before you offer unsolicited advice. Not everyone appreciates it.
Ashley Nesby, an administrative coordinator, put it best: "I don't like when men think it is part of their civic, intrinsic duty to help us less fortunate, weaker and hopeless women with our weights, form or our well-thought-out routines in the gym. It's almost as if their goal, besides haphazardly leaving monstrous weights strewn about the gym, is to teach us pretty little ladies how things should be done."
Nesby said she makes it perfectly clear to anyone who attempts to force their opinion about her workout upon her that she will in no way tolerate it.
More people than you realize are offended when you show up for a workout wearing jeans, especially if they're super short cutoffs that display your naughty bits every time you bend over to stretch your hamstrings. But wearing shades and a Bluetooth headset -- that's the worst offense of all.
"Alone, each is something that should never be worn while exercising indoors," said an irate Ronnie Manning, a public relations manager. "But the combination of the two is terrible, just terrible."