Brace yourselves, your gym is about to become overcrowded with newcomer chaos.
It's a new year, and with this comes new dreams, desires and goals. I'm all for positive thinking, encouragement and transforming your life into a healthier one, especially when it comes to working out. Now that it's officially a new year, many of you may have decided to make 2015 "your year" and get moving on your fitness goals. This is great; high fives all around! In fact, most gyms will see a boost in members around the New Year, since getting in shape is one of the most common resolutions.
BUT, as someone who perceives the gym as my happy place, newbies always seem to find a way to make it a more irritating and unpleasant space rather than a comforting one.
It's not your fault, I understand. You're new to this kind of experience. I mean, we all had to start somewhere and enter a brand new, unfamiliar gym, right? However, for yours, mine and everyone else's benefit, you may want to consider remembering these simple gym rules to keep from getting eye-rolled and grunted at:
1. As much as you may want to, try to avoid taking #FitnessSelfies, #SweatySelfies and any other type of selfie/photo in the locker room, the squat rack, or any other place within the gym. I know, you need a picture or else you have NO proof of the event actually happening. But, many people (myself included) use this time in the gym to turn off from a busy day and other daily distractions. You taking up time in an already-tight space to take a picture of yourself make earn you a few headshakes and shrugs.
2. Please, please, please remember to wipe down any equipment that you use. Sweating is a great reward and shows you've been working hard; but I assure you I don't want to sit in a puddle of it after you've used a machine.
3. Don't stand around the water fountain with a group of friends. If you wanted to go somewhere and gossip, you should have picked a coffee shop. Period.
4. Don't walk five across on the track. The track is an amazing asset to a gym, especially during these bone-chilling arctic blasts that have given Chicago the name, Chiberia. And, even though walking has incredible health benefits, some of us like to run. To help ease traffic on the track, most gyms divide lanes into walking, jogging, and running. When you walk with your friends, you're taking up the dedicated lanes specifically for those who prefer to run. Having to stop my pace each time I come across your group that's stretched out over the track AND having you become more irritated every time I say, "excuse me," makes me want to stiff arm you all and run you down. (Don't believe me? Keep it up.)
5. If you see me with my headphones on, focusing on my workout, I'm definitely in my zone. You tapping me on my shoulder or mouthing words at me from across the gym won't work out in your favor. Unlike social butterflies, I like to go to the gym by myself. Like I said before, the gym is like my therapist, it's my time to zone out and focus solely on myself.
6. Be mindful that you're not the only person in the locker room. Don't take up the whole bench in the locker row with your bag, towels, dirty clothes and shoes.
7. Whatever you do, DO NOT spit in the water fountain. I get it; sometimes when you're running or working out, your mouth becomes full of saliva. But, I'm behind you in line and definitely notice the trail of spit dangling from your mouth to the water fountain. Not only do you look like an animal, but it gives me an unsettling feeling that my face and mouth might accidentally touch what you left behind. No thanks!
This may seem harsh and a little ridiculous, but since you've joined a gym, you unknowingly also made a pact to your fellow gym rats to mind your manners. If you remember these seven rules, as well as some common sense, you'll be fine. I wish you nothing the but the best in your new fitness resolutions!