The Rules Of The Gym

A note from THE FUTURE (1.5.2010): I've reposted this today, and was struck by the tone I used to take in my writing. When I originally wrote this five years ago today, I was a little more... How do you say it... Excitable. I tended to rant more than discuss, and have since learned that I can be equally no-nonsense without the abbrasion. And then, I went to my gym for the first time this year last night, and boom - any sense that I'd want to rewrite this list to be more direct and conversational went out the window, because OH MY GOD YOU NEW YEARS RESOLUTION PEOPLE HAVE NO IDEA HOW TO BE IN A GYM. So, I'm leaving this exactly as-is, and you can just deal with it. And for those of you who want honest, direct advice about getting into and sticking with a gym program, read this and let me know what you think.

Ok, maybe I'm not the guy to do it... I dunno. But lately, it has become more and more apparent that if I don't, no one else is going to. So, I have decided to share with you:

Joe The Peacock's Official Rules Of The Gym.

I have come up with some fairly simple and OH SO necessary guidelines for those of you who have decided to pay your membership dues and head to the mecca for pretention, the local gym. These rules are NOT hard to follow, and I think that anyone and everyone who's ever stepped inside a gym, even to deliver a newspaper, would agree with me on all of them.

First, For The Guys:

1. Stop oogling the girls. It is human nature to look at beautiful things, and the more beautiful they are, the more you want to look. But come on - show some respect. Get a look, go back to whatever it is you were doing.

2. Stop oogling the girls. Yes, it's THAT bad a problem that I have to say it again. Seriously. Stop. I know you're a beast and have only six braincells, every one of them tasked with thinking about boobie. But for chrissake, have some decency, you jarhead. You're making them uncomfortable.

3. You're not in the UFC. I know you love buying Tapout and Affliction shirts at Target, but just because you can afford them doesn't mean you're now rollin' with their crew or whatever. There's no need to stare anyone down or act like a badass. You're not. And we're not in competition. You can nod and smile, it's okay - no one will think any less of you, I promise.

4. Flex in the mirror at home. Sure, you need the mirror to watch your performance as you lift. And yeah, it's really cool to see yourself as you are all pumped and stuff... but must you do a full pose-down in the presence of everyone there?

5. If you sweat a lot, carry a towel. Wipe down the equipment you use. It's just respectful. No one wants to lay in your salty perspiration - if we did, we'd just walk up to you, turn around, and rub our backs on you like a bear would a tree.

6. Wash your clothes once in a while. Please.

7. If you cannot bench 315 lbs, don't get your buddy to sit there and "spot" you while the ladies pass by just so you can rattle the plates. Really, this one isn't too huge a deal - you want to damage yourself, fine by me - you're an idiot and deserve the pain. It's just frustrating to sit there and watch you trying to showboat for a crowd what doesn't give a rat's posterior.

8. If you don't know how to use a machine or do a certain exercise - ask a staff member or someone doing the exercise to teach you a bit about the equipment and routine.

9. However, don't go asking in the middle of a set. It's called "lane courtesy" and it's a term borrowed from bowling. While someone is concentrating on working out, don't go bugging them.

10. Unless your name is Lee Haney, Arnold Schwarzenegger or Joe Weider, don't give unsolicited lifting advice - Unless you see someone who's risking SERIOUSLY hurting themselves. And even then, be polite about it.

11. Just because she's female does NOT mean she needs or wants you to spot her. Leave her alone and go back to your machine, Randy Pan.

12. The treadmill is NOT the place for a race. Eyes down or straight forward - let other people have what little privacy is afforded them by line-of-sight displays.

13. A Hypothetical situation: let's say there's 5 exercise machines in a group. For the purposes of this discussion, assume the leftmost is #1 and the rightmost is #5, with #2, #3 and #4 falling where you'd logically assume they would. If I am on machine #1 and there is NO ONE ELSE ON ANY OTHER MACHINE, do NOT get on machine #2. Especially if you haven't been following rule #6.

14. Wear a shirt, you puffed-up prima donna.

15. To clarify: Shirts consist of a torso and sleeves. If you've cut off half the torso to show your abs, you've failed at rule 14. Same if you've cut off the sleeves. And sure, sleeveless shirts are okay, but if you've EVER spent money on a spaghetti-thin single strip of cloth that goes over each shoulder and meets a 2" wide peice of fabric around your waist, you're a disgrace to humanity and should IMMEDIATELY proceed to the vascectomy clinic to save the human race from your spawn.

16. SHUT THE FUCK UP. No one cares what you bench, used to bench, will be benching, etc. and so forth. Write it in a journal at the gym, and if you really need to talk about it, read it aloud to yourself when you get home.

17. Grunting is understandable and ok - yelling is not. Quit trying to draw attention to your Herculaean efforts by screaming like a banshee.


Now, because I am not one, I don't really know much about the rules for women as they apply to other women. But I do have a few guidelines for you gals.

So, For the Girls:

1. QUIT ENCOURAGING THE GUYS. Christ... this is the GYM. It's not a single's bar, quit treating it like one. I'm ESPECIALLY talking to those of you who laugh and flirt and flip your hair all over the place and blatantly poke your ass out when there's a guy present, and then get all pissy and angry when his eyes become glued to it. Wonder why the guys break rules # 1 and 2 in their list, making you feel so gosh darned uncomfortable? It's in part because you broke this rule. And while I'm at it,

2. NO MAKEUP. Now, I understand going to the gym after work or hanging with friends, and you have makeup on from that activity. That makes sense. I'm referring more to those who get all dolled up just to come to the gym - you come here specifically to get sweaty, and the last I checked, Mabellyene has not a single product geared toward gym use.

3. Closed-toed shoes only, please. I know you're a girl, and as such, you're not supposed to stink, but your toes sweat just like mine do. Plus, just seeing your open toes in a gym makes me want to drop a weight on them.

4. Wear appropriately fitting workout clothing. Before you leave the house / locker room, look in the mirror again. and again. Ask your friends. Ask them again. It's one thing to wear close-fitting workout-specific clothing and spandex. Its another thing entirely to wear those clothes one size too small because you think they tighten your flab and make you look like J-Lo from the back. THey don't - if your ass and legs looks like a chewed wad of bubblegum out of spandex, they look that way IN spandex.


And then, there are a few things that really apply to everyone in general.

For everyone:

1. Stop comparing yourself to everyone in the building. You are there for YOU. Who cares if you lift more or less than anyone else, if you run slower or faster, if you can swim farther and faster, etc? If you're an athlete, relish in your own performance and quit grandstanding for those smaller / weaker / less fit than you. If you're a beginner or are just starting out, quit giving a shit about what other people may or may not be thinking about you right now - get in there and work your hardest.

2. Don't laugh at the fat guy / girl. They're there just like you are, they're working just as hard as you are. In almost every way possible, they're 10x the athlete you are - not only did they show up to the gym to get better, they did it amidst snickering and comments from assholes like you - and that takes more guts than you'll EVER have.

3. Don't spit in the water fountain - spit in the sink in the locker room or in the trashcan.

4. Passing wind is a natural occurance, especially if you are exerting yourself. If someone lets one or 2 fly, or burps a little while running, just grow up and let it slide. That said,

5. Don't go farting all over the place. If you ate something last night that didn't agree with you and your intestines are blowing like the foghorn of an icecutter, STAY HOME AND RUN AROUND THE BLOCK. If one's coming up and you can at all help it, sneak off to the corner or in the locker room and do it there.

6. Wipe down the equipment when you're done with it. And YES, you need to wipe off the bridge of the bike / crosstraining machine, you need to wipe off the display of the treadmill, you need to wipe off the handlegrips, and you need to wipe off the bench / seat of whatever you were sitting on. All of these things are entailed in WIPING DOWN THE DAMN EQUIPMENT.

7. Be curteous with "working in". There are quite a few unspoken rules of the gym, and this used to be one of them until now. It goes like this:

  • If you are alone and you see another solo person working out on equipment you need to use, wait until they are done with the set and ask nicely if they mind if you work in.
  • If you are alone and there are 2 people on your needed equipment, it's a bit less kosher to work in. If you can help it, wait.

  • If you are alone and there's 3 or more folks, just wait or use something else.

  • If you are not alone, you don't work in unless invited. Do not ask. Not even if it's just one guy and every other peice of equipment is taken. It's one thing to be by yourself and work into a team's routine, but it's just wrong to impose a 2-person waiting period into someone's workout.

    8. When you need to wait on equpiment - do so at a close enough distance to indicate you're waiting on that machine but a far enough distance that you are not crowding whoever's currently on it. And don't stare at the person on it currently - it's uncomfortable enough knowing you're holding someone up, so don't make them feel like more of a jerk by making them think you mind.

    9. When someone else is waiting on your machine - cut down on the lollygagging. If you're with a buddy, don't clown around between sets and make the person / people wait on your goofy ass. It's just rude.

    10. Eat somewhere else. Don't eat your energy bar / granola nut cluster / peanut-butter-coated-pinecone-rolled-in-birdseed when you're on the equipment. Not only is it unsanitary for you to eat around other peoples' excretions, but whether you realize it or not, you're leaving crumbs and sticky crap everywhere. Stop.

    11. Don't sing along with your walkman. If you're singing along with whatever shitty music they're piping over the speakers in the club, that's kinda annoying. But there's NOTHING more annoying than some dipshit trying to be the next Ashlee Simpson while listening to the song over their headphones. It's not karaoke, and you're liable to get a 5lb plate hurled at you.


    I think everyone will agree that these rules are not out of line. In fact, I think everyone would agree that they are really very simple and direct. AND NECESSARY. Please share them with anyone you know that attends a gym or otherwise works out.

    Thank you.