I’ve been going to the gym on and off (and sometimes way more off) for the past decade or so. For several years I was a member of Anytime Fitness. I liked this gym because anytime I wanted to go to the gym, I could. They were actually open 24/7. It was also located in the shopping plaza just down the street from my house. Even though it was pretty close, I live on a fairly busy street with no sidewalks, so although it would have only taken me about five minutes to walk to the gym, that was nearly an impossibility. Still, it was close and open after my kids went to bed, so it was a great place for me. Since I was a teacher, they even had a discount rate for me. Instead of the usual $39.99 a month, my membership was only $29.99 a month.
This was my gym for about two years and for the most part I was happy there. I only really had a few problems and they were because other patrons didn’t seem to understand what I think is basic gym etiquette. For example: I would usually come to the gym later in the evening, often not arriving until 9 pm. Since the gym was not staffed after 7pm, anyone with a membership could use their fob to get into the building and exercise without any sort of supervision. Some people really took advantage of this. At least once a week I walked in to a TV in the weight area at the back of the gym turned up to top volume. Even though the lone guy (and it was a couple of different guys who did this) working out saw me come in, he never once turned the TV down. I always brought my iPod with me, but even with my volume turned up, I still caught snippets of whatever he was watching–usually sports.
Occasionally I could tell someone was trying to play “basketball” with their dirty paper towels. When they didn’t hit their shots, instead of walking over and picking them up, they’d just be littered around the trash can, waiting for the morning cleaning crew to come in. Several of the patrons were also pretty bad about replacing the free weights when they finished in the evening. Since I mostly stuck to the cardio machines, this didn’t bother me too much. Mostly I just thought it was rude.
A few times I felt very uncomfortable there at night. There is something very unsettling about being one of only two people in a gym late at night. It only happened a handful of times, but on two different nights I actually left only a few minutes into my workout because the guy in the gym with me kept stopping his workout to stare at me.
About six years ago, I changed gyms when Planet Fitness opened up. I’ll admit that part of my reason was the even cheaper price (only $10 a month), but another real draw was the fact that there was always someone on duty. Sure, they are only open 24/7 four days a week, but the other three days they are open until at least 7, so I can fit in my workouts.
Once again, for the most part, I really like Planet Fitness. I actually like the overall atmosphere way more than Anytime Fitness simply because no matter what time I go in, there is always music playing at a normal volume and I’ve never been in when there are fewer than a dozen people in the building with me. To me, this is comforting.
As much as I like PF, it is not without some major drawbacks…once again almost all related to gym etiquette. My biggest complaint is people not cleaning the machines. I just don’t understand how anyone can finish with a machine and not clean it. Even when I use the Arc Trainer where the only part of the machine I ever touch is the keypad to enter in all of my information, I still clean the machine, just in case some of my sweat dripped on something. When I use the weight machines, I clean the machines really well. While I won’t lie and say I am in the minority, I have never once been in the gym and not seen someone walk away from a machine without cleaning it. And, I’m not talking about people who just aren’t quite as germophobic as I am. I am talking about people sitting down at one of the weight machines, where they sweat quite a bit and just walking away without so much as running a dry towel over it, much less one with disinfectant spray on it.
Once I kindly confronted a guy about it. We were both doing the circuit training. He was sweating quite a bit and despite the fact that he knew I was using each machine about three minutes after he finished it, he was not cleaning them. When I POLITELY reminded him that he was supposed to clean them after each use, he yelled at me, “DON’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO!” I told the staff and they said they’d talk to him. I used to see him a lot after that and he’d always glare at me and still not clean the machines. GROSS!
Oddly, it is always men who do not clean the machines. I have never once seen a woman finish with a machine and not clean it. I’m not saying all men do this or that no women do. I’m just saying at my gym, the only people I’ve seen walk away without cleaning the machines are men. I’m not sure why this is, but I’m disturbed by the regularity of it.
Another real pet peeve of mine at PF is the circuit training area. I really like this area. I think it’s a great workout and I actually kind of like it. However, despite the fact that there are signs all over it saying that the area is for circuit training only, every single time I use it, someone (and once again, it is always a guy) pops in just to do one or two of the weight machines, even though the exact same weight machines are just across the gym in the weight area. Once, I did 19 of the 20 stations, skipping the bicep machine when I initially came to it because for the entire time I was doing the circuit, a guy was just using the bicep machine. I finally had to tell him that I needed to use it to finish my circuit. He apologized and gave it to me (and even cleaned it), but he clearly knew what I was doing and had already made me skip over the machine once, which I just thought was rude. I often have to do the machines out of order because someone has decided to just use the machine I need next.
My latest annoyance at the gym is guys–and yes, I know that it seems like I am really down on men…I’m not…I simply adore them…but for some reason the only people who break the rules of etiquette around me are men–is people who hop onto machines right next to me. In the last two weeks, I’ve had three different guys hop on the machine right next to me (one Arc Trainer, one stationary bike and one elliptical) despite the fact that the gym is nearly empty and there are plenty of other open machines in the row. Last night I was surrounded by empty stationary bikes (I was the only person on one) and a guy decided to plop right down next to me for his workout. There were 8 other bikes open and he took the one right next to me. Now, it’s not like he was touching me, or eyeing me or talking to me, but it was still odd. I could feel the heat coming off of him and I didn’t like it. When there are so many empty machines around, why pick the one right next to me? I know some people pick their machines based on what is on the TVs overhead, but he had a device to watch.
None of these issues are big enough for me to stop going to the gym or even really say anything, but I just find it out that some people seem so oblivious to basic gym etiquette, even when there are signs all over the place explaining it.