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Simply Fit, by Cindy Haskin-Popp, will help you make physical activity a part of everyday life. The health benefits of regular exercise and overall daily physical activity will be discussed. Fun, practical and easy-to-follow tips on an exercise program will be shared, as will the most current research. Fitness tips for families and seniors, on fitness centers and on buying proper and affordable equipment will be regularly given. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Are you Guilty of Making a Fitness Center Faux Pas?

Have you gotten a little too comfortable while exercising at the gym? Fitness centers are great places for developing and fostering relationships with those who share your enthusiasm for living a healthy lifestyle. If you are a regular attendee, the health club can feel like your "home-away-from-home," a place where you can go to release the day's stresses, relax, and just plain "veg-out" while you are in the "zone." But, sometimes you can get so comfortable that you forget you are in a public place, and that there is a code of exercise etiquette that you must follow.

Each fitness and health center will have its own rules to ensure the safety and enjoyment of its members. But, there are some general guidelines of which you should be aware.

An Exerciser's Code of Etiquette
  • Personal Hygiene: While you needn't feel you have to take a shower immediately prior to coming to workout, you should ensure your body odor is kept to a minimum by refreshing with deodorant or baby powder. Try to avoid heavily scented colognes and perfumes which may be bothersome to fellow exercisers, and even trigger asthma symptoms for some.
  • Be Quiet: Use your "indoor voice." Carrying on loud conversations or yelling to a buddy across the room can be annoying to those who are trying to focus on their workout. Grunting while lifting weights can be bothersome to others as well. Avoid slamming or dropping the weights. It is disruptive to those around you and can damage the exercise equipment or lead to injury (note: if you find it difficult to control the weight you are lifting, it means the load is too great and you need to decrease it).
  • Wipe the Sweat: Towel off the exercise equipment after you have used it. Make sure you wipe all areas where your sweat has fallen, such as seats, handles, and even the floor surrounding the machine to prevent slip-and-falls. Some facilities will provide disinfectant wipes to clean the equipment after use. Don't forget to periodically wipe the sweat off of yourself. Your fellow exerciser doesn't want your sweat to be accidently dripped on them.
  • Share the Equipment: Switch users between sets when weight training. That is, take a rest while another fitness center member lifts. If the next machine in your circuit is in use, patiently wait until the person has finished lifting, then ask if you can share. If you interrupt them in middle of a set, they could lose concentration which could lead to injury.
  • Respect Time Limits for Equipment Use: Most fitness centers have time limits for machines during peak hours. Typically the time limit ranges between 20-30 minutes. If you have reached the limit, be courteous and let another exerciser use the machine - you can always come back to it later.
  • Return Exercise Equipment to its Proper Place: Leaving equipment, such as free weights, on the ground can be a safety hazard. In addition, if the equipment is not put back where it belongs, others will not know where to find it when they want to use it.
  • Silence your Cell Phone: You are at the health center to get fit, not talk. Either turn off your portable phone or put it on the silent mode. Your yoga classmates and instructor will be appreciative!
  • Wear Proper Attire: For most facilities this means wear a shirt, shorts/pants, socks, and shoes. Female members should inquire if wearing an exercise bra counts as a shirt, or if they need to cover it with a t-shirt.
Other Etiquette Points to Consider
  • Avoid abusive or foul language
  • Do not bring food and drink (other than water) into the fitness center. Use spill-proof water bottles.
  • If you will be bringing your own towel from home to wipe the equipment after use, make sure it is clean.
  • Do not try to engage others in conversations if they are trying to focus on their routine.
Typically, your exercise facility will have a code of conduct posted throughout the center. If not, contact the gym's general manager for a list of rules. Be respectful and courteous to your fellow exercisers and avoid offensive behaviors. If another gym member is discourteous, kindly remind them to be respectful. If they do not respond to your tactful prompting, seek the aid of a staff member or the manager.

Note: Before beginning an exercise program or increasing the intensity level of a current routine, a physician's approval should be obtained, especially for older adults and those at risk for or who currently have chronic health conditions.

MSN Health & Fitness, "5 Rules of Gym Etiquette, learn how not to wear out your welcome," Kaiyala, K.

Every Day Health Network, "Health Club Etiquette 101, when working out at a health club or gym, keep in mind some basic rules of common courtesy," Rodriguez, D.

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