Be aware of gym etiquette

Some people love it, some people hate it. Either way, most people are going to step foot in a gym at some point in their lives. And whether you’re a friend or a foe, there are some standard rules that everyone should abide by in order to make the gym-going experience more enjoyable (or at least tolerable) for everyone involved.

We’re at the gym, so please don’t talk to me. I’m just saying.

I’m hot. I’m sweaty. I look like shit. Anything that you have to say to me can wait; there will be a better time.  Really, because almost any time will be better than while I’m working out.

It’s not rocket science: unless we’re exceptionally close friends, the gym is not the forum to engage in conversation. Now, I don’t mean that you should ignore me and pretend that I don’t exist; under no circumstances is that a good thing to do if you’re trying to function in a society.

I’m just saying that I’m probably cranky, hot, tired and sweaty—and maybe even concentrating really hard on doing this last rep right so I get maximum benefit or at least don’t lose count again—so it would be in everyone’s best interest if we keep communication to a minimum.

What’s acceptable behavior for acquaintances or casual friends to engage in at the gym? Nonverbals are best. You know, a head nod, a wave, a smile as you’re passing by or a wink if you’re feeling feisty. You also can express short phrases that do not require long responses—or any response. It’s okay to say something along the lines of:  “’Sup?”  “Hey!” “Heeeeeyyyy…,” ”How’s it goin?” or “Lookin’ good.”  Stick to short, simple non-committal comments and I’ll respond: “Hey.”  Better yet, I’ll just nod in acknowledgement.

But that’s about the extent of it.

Don’t ask me how I answered question three on our Comm exam.  I am NOT going to stop my workout to explain our homework assignment that’s due tomorrow in bio. And—this is really important—do not ask me out for coffee. Those gym pick-ups you see in the movies?  No, not a thing.

Ask me all that stuff when I’m not sporting a healthy, stinky sweat. Ask me when I actually smell like a human again. Ask me when I feel like I am socially presentable. PSA: no one feels socially presentable covered in sweat.

Even if we’re close friends, the gym should not be where we’re having our most important conversations. Yes, obviously I want you to catch me up on the day’s gossip. But not at the gym; it is full of people and you never know who’s listening.

Or (because we’re both gasping for air after exerting ourselves on that last set) we don’t realize just how loudly we’re talking over the clank of falling weights. No matter how juicy that tidbit you just heard is, it can wait until I finish my set of squats.

And yes we’re close friends.  Of course I want to hear about your most recent breakup… just not at the gym. I’m really not equipped to sift through your emotional problems while I hold a plank for five minutes. And honestly? You won’t really get the full benefit of the great advice I can give you, because I won’t be able to give you my best advice while I’m doing pushups.  For something that important, you  want my full attention, clear thinking and complete empathy.

The gym is that place where people can go and work out in peace. Most people are there to sweat and get through their workout. Unless someone is clearly engaged in what you’re saying, keep the conversation short and let them finish.

If you let me finish my last set of bicep curls, I’ll meet you at Starbucks for however long you need and where we can talk in peace.