The new non-negotiable rules of gym etiquette

Let me start by saying: I live in Jersey and love it—and yes, I even have Bon Jovi on my playlist (more than one song!) But I never really experienced Jersey until I hit my Jersey gym. Think “The Situation” … aged about 20 years.

So as I was running on the treadmill this morning (yes, doing my intervals), I sniffed and sniffed again and looked at the heavyset guy with a beer gut and many hidden muscles getting on the treadmill next to me. He reeked of cigarette smoke; he must have had a few smokes before hitting the gym. And while I give him credit for getting to the gym and walking (huffing and puffing, thanks to his habit) on the treadmill smack dab right next to me, I couldn’t run any more because I couldn’t breathe that smell in while running at a pace of 7.0. So after I shut down the machine, I headed over to the weight room. After experiencing that, I came up with these new non-negotiable rules of gym etiquette—perfect as you start putting into effect those resolutions for the new year!

1) IF YOU SMOKE, please realize that you reek of cigarette smoke. No, you do not think you do because you CAN’T SMELL YOURSELF or the clothing that literally smells like you came to the gym right after an entire night in a smoky bar (and all bars reek, not just ones in Jersey!). So do not go near anyone on any cardio machine as you will interrupt their clean air (which is their right).

Guys: I hate to be the one to tell you this but your sweat DOES stink!

2) IF YOU’RE A GUY, you do not own the weight room, plain and simple. I go to a gym in New Jersey with a weight room inhabited by Jersey guys (conjure up a picture of “The Situation” when he’s about 40, and you get the picture). When I tried to use one of the weight benches to do my own routine, one of said big beefy guys told me “I’m using that bench and that two next to it.” I didn’t realize they rented benches at the gym! It took him 15 minutes to finish with his routine with three different benches. Unbelievable.

3) WIPE DOWN YOUR benches, guys. I mean please. I do not want to go anywhere near a bench that you’ve just sweated over and left for me with wet spots at the head and back rest. How hard is it? Most gyms (mine included) have sanitizing wipes everywhere. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt as you probably don’t realize what they’re for…but next time, use them, and then toss them in the trash.

4) LADIES, you are not exempt: you do not own the makeup counter space while you shower. When I was trying to blow dry my hair, I couldn’t use two of the dryers because an entire hair salon had been set up with brushes laid out and styling products. I almost thought for a minute that it was the gym offering freebies until I saw one of the women saunter out of the shower in her towel and head to her set-up in front of the mirror. Bottom line, there’s limited space—and just because you found some doesn’t mean that it’s your personal bathroom.

5) LADIES, I know that working out makes us proud of our bodies (heck, this is reason number one to get our butts to the gym), but please do not stand naked, chatting, behind the women blow drying their hair in front of the giant mirror. It’s hard to avert our eyes from your privates when we’re trying to get our hair to look somewhat decent. Cover up with a towel or find another spot to let it all hang out!

Once these rules are followed, we can all have a great gym experience in the new year!

Valerie LatonaAbout Valerie Latona
As the former editor in chief of Shape (the active lifestyle magazine) for 5 years, I personally spoke with a lot of women (thousands over the years, from around the nation) and what I found is this: it's not easy to stay healthy, to get (and stay) fit, and to stem the weight gain tide (and even the tide of disease) that inevitably happens to us as we get older.