Gym Pet Peeves


It’s a rare time in a gym when you don’t have to share equipment.

Awhile back, I did a magazine article on gym pet peeves — the little habits that annoy other gym-goers. Since everyone has to share space and equipment with each other, you need to exercise your manners as well as your muscles.

I called several local gyms, and asked 20-30 exercisers about their pet gym peeves. Here’s a list of some of the most-mentioned annoyances, and some of the actual comments, which are pretty funny:

  1. Hoarding all the kettle bells, bars, balls, weights, etc. into your little corner for the next hour or so. Most gyms don’t have enough equipment for that. So take items as you use them, and put them back when you’re done. If your circuit workout requires having everything at your fingertips, work out in off-peak hours when there’s less demand for the equipment.
Put away the equipment when you’re done!

2. Monopolizing a resistance machine as if it’s your personal La-Z-Boy recliner to rest on, text and talk. Some folks may take over two or three machines at once.

One club manager told me, “If you’re doing a circuit using two or 2 or 3 machines, you’ve got to allow others to work in with you.” As a polite way to make someone aware,  he suggested asking,  “Hey, do you mind if I work in with you?” or “Will you be finishing soon?”

3. Talking to anybody and everybody. Most people want to just zone out while they’re pushing themselves hard on a machine, or focus on the instructor’s directions in a class. And that goes for loudly talking on the phone too. “I’ve got X amount of time before I gotta shower and leave for work; now is not the time for socializing.”

4. Dragging water bottles, towels, jacket, cell phone, gym bag, etc. around the gym, where they can be tripped over. It’s especially annoying in a group fitness class when people leave their cell phones and water bottles on the floor, turning it into an obstacle course to avoid stepping on them. Most gyms have adequate lockers or cubbies. Use them.

5. Loudly groaning and grunting and letting your weights clang to the floor.  It’s startling and intimidating for those around you, and dropping the weights can damage them. Since the Planet Fitness chain’s mantra is “no gym-timidation.” the management can set off a “Lunk Alarm” when grunting gets is too loud.

6. Not re-racking weights when you’re finished with them. The person coming after you may not be able to lift the 230 pounds that you did, and may get hurt just trying to take off those weights. Dude, f you can lift 230 pounds, you’re strong enough to carry the weights  back to the rack!

In a dark cardio cinema, it’s pretty easy to trip over equipment lying around on the floor.

7. Leaving equipment in the cardio cinema strewn around the floor. In the dark, it’s pretty easy for someone to trip over your kettle bells on their way to the bikes or ellipticals.

8. Wearing skimpy clothes that reveal w-a-a-ay too much when you’re squatting, lifting and bending. Also, flowing sleeves can get caught in machines, sandals are safety hazards, and jeans tear up seat pads on the machines. So just wear, you know, normal workout gear.

9. Sweating all over a machine and not wiping it down afterward. Ugh.

10. Changing TV channels, movies or background music without consulting members already there. You’re engrossed in the middle of  “Law & Order” when someone grabs the remote and poof! You’re suddenly watching Fox News or the talking jocks on ESPN.

11. Staring at other people while they’re exercising. Maybe you’re just trying to figure out the innovative moves they’re doing with the stability ball, or watching to see how to use a certain machine. But keep it discreet.

12. Coming late to class and then muscling in on someone else’s space. Everyone shouldn’t have to move their mats, weights, steps, etc. to make room for you 20 minutes after class has started.

13. Being oblivious to personal space in classes or workout areas. You don’t need to be two inches away from someone in yoga (close enough to sniff armpits during Downward Dog) when there’s several yards of space on the opposite side. Scoot over!

14. Spreading chalk dust all over. This is one for Cross-Fit fans, where chalk is rubbed in the hands to help with exercises that require gripping. If people get careless with the chalk, it can spread all over the gym.

15. Letting it all hang out in the locker room. You may be perfectly comfortable with your naked body, but others people are not.

Here are some quotes of  gym pet peeves from a variety of workout facilities. You may get a good laugh, and unfortunately, you might even recognize yourself. 

  • “I was washing my hands in the women’s locker room when a woman walked up to the sink next to me and stripped off her suit and just stood there looking in the mirror. There are bathroom stalls, dressing stalls and a large locker area. Her body wasn’t anything to gawk at, it made me very uncomfortable. I couldn’t leave fast enough!”
  • “Watching men check out women. It’s really quite amusing actually, but I feel embarrassed for them. They look like fools when they stare at a women’s behind, it’s not like we can’t all see what they are doing. Especially if the men are wearing a wedding ring.”
  • “The guy that runs as hard as he can on the treadmill right next to you, and no matter how loud you turn the music up on your headphones, you can hear him pounding. Find a different spot that not right in the middle of the gym, dude!”
  • “There are only a handful of plastic book holders (that go onto the aerobic machines) at my gym. But there’s this one gal who always takes “hers” home with her in her Pan Am bag. Yes, I said Pan Am….”
  • “Someone who is sick next to you and keeps sneezing and wiping his nose with his T-shirt.”
  • “When you’re in the shower, and someone in the shower next to you reaches for their towel and ends up taking off with yours.”
  • “I hate it when women bring their five or 6 year-old son into the women’s locker room. Which is a sensitive matter because he’s not quite old enough to go in the locker room by himself, but  gyms should have family locker rooms and then women should use them!”
  • “My biggest pet peeve is the Zumba class that plays their music so loud that you can no longer hear through your headphones.”
  • “Women in yoga pants or running tights who don’t wear underwear. Seriously people, have some dignity! I don’t want to see your lady parts when I’m on the ground doing ab work and you are in front of me doing squats! One of these days, one of the men gawking at your hiney is going to drop a weight on his toe or hurt someone else because he isn’t focused on his workout.”
  • “People who spit on the floor or in the water fountain.”
  • “People who bring tons of stuff and pile them next to the equipment, crowding the aisle (phone, water bottle, music player, magazine, protein drink, jacket, towel, hat…you’re really going to get to all of that during your workout?)”
  • “The young men/boys who shout or talk loudly across the gym to one another, BUT MOSTLY those same kids who are lifting incredibly heavy weights on the machines or with free weights and DROP the weights on their last lift. They make a terribly loud noise, and I and others around me inevitably startle and lose my step when I’m running on the treadmill.”
  • “What about someone that puts their things on a machine to ‘save’ their spot as they go off and do another exercise, and they don’t come back for 30 minutes?”

Do you have any other gym pet peeves? Feel free to share in the comments section!