10 bad gym habits

The gym has at least 10 unwritten rules. If you don't know what they are, you could be driving other gym users crazy. And that includes the hulk in the corner with the dumbbells.

Getting yourself to go to the gym, is difficult enough without having to cope with breaches of gym etiquette on the part of your fellow users.

Most frequent complaints
"The complaints I hear most often are about people using the circuit in the wrong sequence and people not wiping sweat off the equipment, or not putting equipment back after use," says Brent Walsh, manager of the Discovery Wellness and Fitness Centre at the Sports Science Institute of South Africa.

He also advises gym users to be considerate of time limits on equipment.

"In a gym environment people share space with other people. Gym users need to be as accommodating as possible when it comes to the facilities and equipment.

"Some people tend to take ownership of the place. They should bear in mind that they are on shared territory", he says.

Some nasty habits to avoid

No karaoke club. One can often get a bit too enthusiastic when the endorphins are pumping and the headphones are on. Just remember - not everybody is lucky enough to be wearing headphones. And there are few people who sing in showers or gyms who would be advised to leave their day-jobs.

Headphone hell. Make sure the volume on your headphones is not turned up so high that the person on the bike next to you has to share your passion for pushing pedals to The Pogues. They might actually prefer The Carpenters, and anyway this can't be good for your eardrums.

Treadmill trick. People who have towels over the settings of treadmills are immediately under suspicion. Are they trying to cover up that they're actually running very slowly? Or are they resetting the machine and going over the 20-minute time limit?

Don't be a chatterbox. People come to the gym to exercise, not to hear your life story. By all means greet other regulars, but there are few things more irritating than being on the treadmill, and having to listen to non-stop chatter from the next machine.

No one has a reservation. You cannot "reserve" equipment by placing your towel, book or disc player on it, while you finish chatting up a girl or, even worse, talking loudly on your cell phone.

Here comes Stinky. Get sweaty and stinky in the gym. Don’t arrive that way. There are few things that put people off more than the smell of last week's workout emanating from your trainers.

Pool manners. The pool is not there to be used in the place of a shower. You should be clean when you get into it. And while, we're on this touchy topic – the pool is not a toilet either.

Dress for success. Appropriate dress is important in the gym. This does not mean you have to be clad in the latest designer wear. Just try and wear clothes that absorb sweat and don’t smell too bad.

Don't be a water hog. Don't hog the water fountain, especially during peak hours. Also don't wash your face at the water fountain or fill your water bottle when thirsty people are queueing behind you.

No pick-up joint. Don't use the gym as a cruising spot. Your gym card is not a ticket to picking up potential dates. Most people come to the gym to get fit, not to get hit on. And on that note, if you prance around naked for longer than necessary, others may not appreciate it.

If you think that none of these apply to you, maybe you should think again. See that sweaty guy with the pumped up arms grunting in the mirror? Now see him grunt at you after he's tripped over the dumbbell you forgot to put back.

(Susan Erasmus, Rene Lötter, updated May 2010)

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