The dos and don'ts of hitting the gym
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    What not to do. Photo by Julie Beck.

    The gym conjures images of hard work, barbaric grunting and sweaty, dirty bodies. But that is no excuse to lose your manners. Whether you are a gym rat or a fitness newbie, become familiar with the gym rules of etiquette. Let your toned physique be the thing to make you stand out, not your poor behavior. Avoid these seven cardinal sins of the gym to maximize a happy and healthy workout experience.

    Dressing inappropriately. There may not be an official dress code for the gym, but there should be. Wear real sneakers –- flip-flops do not qualify. Not only do you look silly, you risk injury by not getting the proper support from your footwear. Ladies, your butt cheeks hanging out of your too-short Soffe’s is not okay. There is much debate surrounding whether it is appropriate to only wear a sports bra to the gym. If you’re dying of heat or proud of your hard-earned sculpted abs, go for it –- but be aware that some people will judge you. As for the men, “I would prefer that they didn’t wear those really tight shorts,” says Weinberg sophomore Kimberly Johnson. Jeans or cargo pants are never acceptable.

    Emitting foul smells. If you’re working out hard, no one expects you to smell like a flower. But the truly awful, egg-like stench of B.O. can be prevented by good deodorant. If you tend to sweat heavily, try a more potent deodorant like Secret Clinical Strength Waterproof or Degree Men Clinical Protection. And please don’t come to the gym right after eating a huge burrito from Chipotle. If you are a little gassy, try to pick cardio equipment as far away from other exercisers as possible. Do not position yourself in front of a fan.

    Neglecting to sign up. Be sure to sign up for your machine. If you neglect to initial your name under a time slot, someone may kick you off — and whoever initialed his or her name has every right to do so. “If you sign up for it and no one else signs up for it, it’s yours,” said Blomquist employee and McCormick senior Nick Zimowski. However, when someone is on your machine, it is common courtesy to cross your name out and sign up for a different slot if others are available unless you have a specific reason for using that particular machine. If you do kick someone off, “don’t be rude about it,” Weinberg freshman Sara Arazoza said.

    Abandoning your free weights. If you can lift the 90-pound dumbbell off the rack and bring it over to the bench, you can return it. Props on your bulging biceps; however, don’t assume that everyone can handle the same amount of weight. Others may strain and hurt themselves attempting to move your weight out of the way. And just because you’re lifting lighter dumbbells doesn’t mean you can leave your weights lying around either. There’s nothing more annoying than awkwardly poking around the SPAC weight room in search of a missing 10-pound weight. Nor is there anything more embarrassing than tripping over the 10-pound weight someone carelessly left in the middle of the floor.

    Getting close and personal. You walk into the gym and see that only one person is running on the treadmill. Unless all the other machines are broken or you know the runner, do not choose the treadmill directly adjacent to the exerciser. Similarly, avoid choosing a mat right next to someone if others are available. “It’s like the urinal rule,” Johnson said. As for exercise benches, be sure to ask before sharing. On that note, don’t hog the bench, unless allowing someone to use the other end of your bench will interfere with your routine. “People should respect when there’s a line for the equipment,” Johnson said.

    Being a big talker. Talking on the phone for an extended period of time is not acceptable. Keep your calls super short and for emergencies only. Remember that not everyone brings an iPod to the gym nor does everyone want to listen to their music at full blast to drown out your conversation. Be warned: cell phone use while exercising may result in injury.

    Not wiping down your machine. According to the etiquette experts at the Emily Post Institute, not cleaning off equipment is the number one gym faux pas. Whether you’ve used your machine for five minutes or 65 minutes — walk over to the conveniently located hygiene station, spray one of the towels and thoroughly clean the handles, screen or anywhere else you may have touched. “It’s just courteous,” McCormick sophomore Robin Stiller said. Besides the ick factor, wiping down the machines prevents the spread of germs. So take the extra two or three minutes and keep your bacteria to yourself.

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