10 Control grunting
Gymsters are pushing their bodies to the limits. So you can forgive a little puffing and panting as exertions strain the body. But when it becomes a yodelling cry for help and drowns out the sounds of the Europop dance music, feel free to inwardly hope they drop a dumbbell on their toe and really have something to holler about. You’re here to exercise, not exorcise, so keep the most paranormal screeches on the inside, thank you.
A workout will improve your sense of wellbeing, strengthen your body and make you healthier. It will also make you stink like a butcher’s tea towel so stay away from human contact, you dripping lump of stench. Congratulatory hugs, endurance record high-fives and motivational back-slaps need to wait until at least after everybody is showered and cleaned up. While we’re at it, be sure to keep a towel by you at all times and wipe equipment after use. We’re demotivated enough as it is and no matter how many times we listen to the Rocky theme tune, we still won’t be lying on a pool
of your sweat just to do a few bench presses.
8 Eye contact
No matter why you’re looking, how subtle you think you’re being or who you are looking at – don’t do it. There are mirrors everywhere and everybody can see you’re staring because they have learned the art of gym side-eye. Until you have mastered it too, just look straight ahead and avoid catching anyone’s gaze altogether. Unless you’re in the locker room, where eye contact is essential.
7 Just do it (right)
Dumbbells and barbells are for lifting, exercise backs are for sitting on and watching the flat-screen TVs, and everything else is a bit of a mystery. The shame of asking somebody how you’re supposed to work a machine is far less than if the rest of the gym looks on in bewilderment at your interpretation of the correct functioning of a multi-gym. The only thing you should be embarrassed about asking is for help screwing off the top of your power drink.
6 Judging others
Just go ahead and do it. They could be doing almost exactly the same workout for free in their living room so assume they’re paying for the privilege of your increasingly withering glance as they theatrically warm down with aggressive lunges and thrusts.
5 Unsolicited boasting
Our 15 minutes on the treadmill might not have got us far, but it burned the exact calories to allow us the two slices of cake we had before coming in here. So if we don’t know you, and you’re patronisingly humblebragging about being way off your personal best as well, jog on. From what you’ve told us it won’t take you very long to be very far away and that is just how we like it.
4 Be smart about phones
If smartphones had seams they’d burst under the strain of all the personal trainer apps, workout playlists and stopwatches that legitimise them being in the gym. However, chatting on one as you stroll on a treadmill, playing Candy Crush while you ‘cool down’ or snapping selfies when waiting for the exercise bike are colossal nos.
3 Gymprovisational comedy
Under no circumstances can you run in and kick the exercise balls across the gym. The same goes for suddenly shouting “the Big Macs are on me”, setting the showers to cold water only or anything else you think might be funny.
2 Beware the snack bar
Walking 3km on the treadmill and doing a five-minute exercise bike ride is not justification for two powerbars, a high-energy smoothie and the “guilt-free” burger in your fitness facility’s café. Dribbled ketchup will clearly stand out on your high-vis activewear.
1 Posing versus performing
At some stage you have to stop flexing and pouting at your reflection, quit readjusting your Lycra, take a final selfie and actually do some training. Not for too long, obviously, or that will mess up your hair. Besides, a few beads of perspiration artfully dotted on your forehead would make for a great status update, so snap ’em while they’re fresh.
Will Milner is a regular contributor. He is slower than an ox.