By Jessica Kupetz

We all look at our time spent at the gym through different lenses. For some, it’s a sanctuary – a time to be at peace with our thoughts. For others, it’s where we tackle our stressors, face our fears and push ourselves past our comfort zones. For some others, it’s merely a mandatory stop on our way to health and fitness. However varied our goals, motives and plans of attack, however, we all nevertheless have to sweat through our fitness routines in the company of others (unless, of course, you’re blessed with a private home gym!).

Given our close proximity to others and our wide-ranging goals, it’s essential that we all practice proper gym etiquette in order to ensure that we each get the most out of our workouts, without any added (and annoying) distractions.  Here, a few guidelines we suggest you follow – both for your own safety as well as the sanity of others.

No Phone Zone
Tweeting, texting, BBMing, emailing and chatting all have their time and place – and the gym isn’t one of them. While silent tapping on your phone may be acceptable if your safely balanced on a stationary bike, electronic distractions on a treadmill, for example, are not only hazardous to your safety but also can undermine the effectiveness of your workout. If you are expecting an important call, there’s no need to answer it while booking it at 6.0 mph. Rather, take your call into the lobby or outside. Better yet, if your phone call is that important, the gym may not be the best place to be in the first place. And remember, any group fitness class should be a strict no phone zone (there’s not much more annoying that the glow of a backlit phone while in the darkness of a spin class – other than the music going out, perhaps).

Need a distraction? Listen to this playlist!

Save The Grunts for Football Practice
We know weight lifting can produce some extensive energy and that a grunt or moan can be just what you need to get you through your last set of military presses. At times, though, this can make nearby gym-goers uncomfortable or agitated. We all understand the occasional grunt, but if you’re constantly providing a soundtrack to your workout, consider practicing proper breathing techniques (exhaling during exertion) or lowering your weight.

Consider Your Limits
Some of us are blessed to belong to a small, intimate gym where we have the flexibility to train for however long we’d like. However, this isn’t always the case in larger facilities. It’s important to abide by cardio deck rules. If patrons are limited to 30 minutes on the treadmill due to the high volume of treadmill junkies, make your 30 minutes work. Interval your speeds and inclines and make 30 minutes just enough to get a great cardio workout in. Then clean it up and move on. If you need 60 minutes, consider off-peak hours or, at the very least, step off after 30 minutes and put yourself back at the end of the line.

If you’re tight on time, try this 20 minute power workout!

Don’t Leave a Trail
H1N1 left us all scraping for hand sanitizer and rushing to the nearest clinic for our yearly flu shot. If you consider, though, all the germs floating around the locker room, the treadmills, the weight rack and the mats, it’s an overwhelming reflection! Save yourself from such dirty thoughts by playing your part. Gyms everywhere (should) offer disinfectant sprays and towelletes in various spots around the facility. If you use a machine, take a moment to disinfect the evidence. Sharing is not caring, in this case anyway.

Know Your Role
Sure, we’ve all seen the lonely, confused or proud exerciser. You know the one: she hops onto the lat pull-down, one-handed, with her feet in the air. Okay; maybe not that extreme. The point is, not everyone knows what they are doing when they head into the gym. But, if they aren’t asking for your help, they aren’t looking for you to take it upon yourself and give it to them. The gym staff and trainers can take this task on. If you feel someone is putting you or others in harms way, by all means, talk to a staff member about it, but taking the situation into your own hands can be a liability (and irritating).

Fight muscle adaptation and get fit faster!

Do You Smell That?
It should be a no-brainer to apply some deodorant before heading to the gym; yet, you’d be surprised at the random whiffs of “unpleasantness.” Even if you truly believe you smell like roses, please just humor us (and the rest of your gym-mates) and spread on a little extra anyway. There’s nothing more uncomfortable than breathing in someone else’s cardiovascular session. That being said, overdoing the cologne or perfume right before your workout can be just as distracting.

Social Considerations
Many of us enjoy the public gym setting. It allows us to mingle and network with others who share a common interest. It’s important, though, to consider where you converse and the topic of conversation. While we don’t care to overhear OB-GYN results under any circumstances, we especially don’t want to hear them as we wait for you to climb out of the Abductor machine. Remember that some conversations are best left out of the gym altogether and, moreover, that the equipment is there to be utilized, not for you to make yourself comfortable while your chat with your girlfriends.

The perfect protein-packed post-workout snack!