The problem with the gym in 2017? Too many people. From millennials to old-school bros to wannabe “fitfluencers,” the gym is no longer just a place for working out. It’s a comedy of manners, a behavioural petri dish, Instagram come to life. And if folks annoy you where you work out, you just won’t work out. But we have the fix: We surveyed some 1,300 gym goers about their pet peeves and then crafted these guidelines.
1. YOUR NUMBER ONE ACCESSORY IS A TOWEL.
Sweating feels good and is good for you only because it’s yours. Trust nearly 75 percent of people surveyed: Your sweat skeeves us. So carry a towel and never leave a liquid silhouette of your swampy ass on a bench. You don’t need a fluffy white spa towel. A simple hand one would suffice.
2. WEAR A CLEAN SHIRT AND CLEAN SHORTS ON A CLEAN BODY.
There’s B.O., and then there’s. . . that other smell. Wicking fibers are a wonder of modern textile engineering, but if you don’t wash them or yourself, they hold stank like dog fur holds skunk. Our survey says 65 percent of people are offended by excessive body odour, because the other 35 were upwind at the time. Think of the children.
3. ENOUGH WITH THE SELFIES ALREADY, SIR RIPPED-A-LOT.
Snapping selfies can boost your mood, say UC Irvine researchers who didn’t ask us. According to 53 percent of those we surveyed, doing it between sets kills everyone else’s mood. If your pumped brain can’t resist a grin and that phone button, hire a photographer to capture your awesomeness in front of the gym. Seem tacky? Exactly.
4. THREE WORDS THAT HAVE NO PLACE IN A GYM: WHO DEALT IT?
Look, occasionally you’ll strain during a lift and rip a fart. Shit happens. Sometimes literally. But fully half of our respondents really wish you’d study harder for this emissions test. If you think subtle crop-dusting goes unnoticed, you’re wrong. And the cardinal sin of farting while spotting? The cops have a name for it: attempted murder.
5. YOUR EARBUDS ARE NOT A FORCE FIELD.
We’ve all seen those sleek Apple buds or the headphones that look like Bluetooth-enabled Leia buns. But when you start taking Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” seriously and get so tuned in that you’re tuned out, the world (or about 47 percent of it) needs you to pay attention. People may need to politely inquire how long you’ll be on a bench, or where the fire extinguishers are.
6. THREESOMES ARE NOT—AND NEVER WILL BE—ALLOWED.
A gym rat fantasy: two exercise stations at once. But that threesome robs the guy faithful about equipment monogamy waiting, and 46 percent of the world doesn’t dig that. There are better ways, says trainer Chad Raynor, N.A.S.M. Ditch assisted machines and combine moves—like a squat to shoulder press—instead of supersetting.
7. AN “ARRRGH!” AND A LOUD THUD ARE FOR HEART ATTACKS ONLY.
Is he human or primate? It’s okay to yell in a CrossFit box, but in big gyms you’ll get eyerolls: Nearly 50 percent of people agree. Some guys do it for an “animal mentality,” says Alonzo Wilson, founder of New York City’s Tone House. But they should just power-breathe: Inhale lowering the weight, exhale when raising. Translation: Shut up.
8. SQUATTING IS AN EXERCISE, NOT A SELFISH ACT.
Yes, we know you work out hard. But the longer you “rest” on that bench or machine, the more you piss off the rank and file (almost half of them). You have a gym membership, not a deed to the squat rack. Plus, why plant your ass? Raynor suggests “preparing” for your next set. Try floor bridges 90 seconds after a set of squats.
Related: The Perfect Morning Workout
9. EXERCISE YOUR BODY, NOT YOUR SPOTTER.
Ooh, look at the barbell full of plates. He must be powerful. Or maybe it’s for his spotter’s workout. “A spotter is not there to rip three of five reps off your chest,” says strength coach Adam Rosante, founder of Montauk Barbell Club. Thirty-six percent in our survey laugh at ego lifters. Got something to prove? Make it your lifting form.
10. NO BABIES ALLOWED IN THIS ZOO.
Don’t make us call your mom! The selfish child dumps dumbbells wherever, never strips barbells, and is voted most likely to kidnap a step up platform to the other corner of the gym. If that’s you, know that two-thirds of the people we surveyed think you suck. If it’s some other guy, rack your own weights with oomph—and a knowing nod.
By Mike Zimmerman; illustration by Rami Niemi