You may find it strange that there are so many ways a woman can mortally offend the other gymgoers with whom she has contact on a daily basis. After all, we are women, not men. We smell nicer, have more common sense, and can go to the bathroom and take a shit without having to play twelve rounds of Temple Run while we’re in there. Shouldn’t we be naturally immune to pigheaded gym behavior?
Sadly, if you’ve ever been inside a gym, you’ll be well acquainted with the fact that the answer is no. Just because we can distinguish our own child calling “Mom” from the voices of four hundred other children of the same age at a crowded Chuck E. Cheese’s and are therefore evolutionarily superior does not mean we are always shining beacons of politeness. Hence, The UGBLLG, part two. Incidentally, if you sound that acronym out slowly, you will sound like you are choking on a huge cock, and it will amuse me.
Wiping down your machine after you use it is a very important part of being a dutiful gym citizen. Even if you know for a fact that you didn’t sweat all over it, it’s common courtesy. It’s just like double-dipping in the guac bowl at a party. YOU know that you didn’t fellate any hobos right before putting your mouth on that tortilla chip, but your fellow partygoers don’t know that, so you don’t double dip in order to give them a feeling of hygienic security. Plus, you may be sweating and not even know it. (We’ve moved on from the dip-bowl analogy, in case you were confused.) Oftentimes I will get up from the flat bench and see a nasty ol’ grease-slick right where my sweaty head was, even though I don’t feel hot or rainforest-y. So I take care of it with whatever equipment the gym has provided for this purpose. Often it is individual wet wipes, which I find incredibly wasteful, but better than spreading my grody germs around to fifty other people. Other times it is a towel and a bottle full of disinfectant. Whatever it is, you are not above taking eleven extra seconds to wipe off your machine.
Don’t stare at other people in the gym. And don’t pretend like you are far too well-bred to ever consider such a thing. Most of the time it’s not something we do out of rudeness or malice. It’s just that there is nothing good on TV and I forgot my New York Times at home and I’m bored, dammit. But even in these desolate moments, don’t stare. Even the most confident bodybuilder becomes uneasy when some creep in the corner keeps eye-fucking him over the edge of her treadmill. What IS allowed is being open about your staring. If someone is doing an exercise you’ve never seen before or want to know more about, go up to them and ask them, “Excuse me, do you mind if I watch your next set? I might try some of those on my next chest day and I want to make sure my form is good.” They may feel flattered that you want their advice, rather than molested by your incessant gaze.
Try not to make excessive amounts of noise. Some gyms are very strict about this, with “no grunting” policies that can actually get you kicked out if you scream too loudly while ripping weight away from the earth. I personally think a little grunting is par for the course when you’re straining yourself, and if people can’t deal with it they should try working out at a library or in North Korea, where I’m assuming there is a minimum sentence of 15-20 years for exceeding a certain decibel level in public. But what you have to keep in mind is that people at the gym are concentrating. There is real effort going into their workouts, and if someone is ululating like a howler monkey in labor right next to them, their concentration will suffer. This goes for dropping the weights as well. On the whole, I find that women are less likely to commit this offense than men, since women tend not to be lifting as much weight, but even a ten-pound plate slamming down on the floor full-force will create a sound like a gunshot that will snap everyone within a fifty-foot radius out of their Zone, and God help you then. The noise policy also applies to something that I see women and girls do quite frequently, which is playing their terrible music so loudly that I can hear it from across the gym. I cannot stop you from listening to Bruno Mars. You are probably beyond my help already. But if I can hear it coming through your headphones over what I am listening to on my own iPod, I will wrap your earbud cords around your neck and choke you with them until I feel vindicated or you go unconscious, whichever happens first.
Finally, and this is a mere nicety, say hi to the people who work there. They probably don’t get paid massive amounts, not even the personal trainers. They go about all day in a cesspool of other people’s sweat, working tirelessly so that you can have your coveted bikini body for spring break. Say hello to them when you walk in. Ask them how they are. When a machine is broken, tell them. Don’t leave it for them to find six hours later, after eighteen people have already broken themselves on it. These are human beings just like you, not robot slaves who bring you your daily muscle-building protein shake and wash your nasty towels for you. Treat them as such.
If anyone has any suggestions for gym etiquette, leave them in the comments below. Happy gymming!
For more, see The Ultimate Guide to Behaving Like a Lady at the Gym, part 1.