In the spirit of Don’t Fart in Spin Class, this post is brought to you by an irritating personal experience at the gym this morning and regards gym etiquette. Let me set this up for you: I have a membership to the very nice, newly renovated fitness center on campus. I arrive the moment the doors open at 6:30 am so I can get my workout in before I start my day (also because I have to compete with the frat bros for my favorite squat rack, so there’s that too). This morning I was doing a HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) sequence to work on speed, power and agility. I was doing the second half of my workout, currently in the third and final round of:
- Jumping Jacks
- 180° Jump Squats
- Side Shuffle with Knee Hold
- High Knees
- Elevated Push Up
- Jumping Lunges
- Kick Unders
- Mountain Climbers
- Bird Dog Sweep
- Power Lunges
- Curtsey Squats
The idea is to do 20 of each moves, with minimal rest, as I give myself 60 – 90 seconds to recover before starting the sequence over again. It’s intense, and it’s very challenging, but I really enjoy the mix of moves I’ve strung together and it makes me feel powerful and strong.
So, I was in the middle of round three, doing jumping lunges (just about when I feel like I’m actually dying), when an older woman comes up to me, signals for me to remove my headphones. I do, because I generally consider myself a polite person. She tells me “You really sweat a lot!” with a look of complete distaste. At first I just looked at her blankly, like the side-eye emoji. But she stood there, and repeated it as if I didn’t hear her. Being put on the spot when your heart rate is north of 150 bpm and it’s before 7 am doesn’t elicit the sassiest responses in my mind, so I replied with, “Yeah, I don’t mess around when I work out.” She repeated her observation of my extreme sweatiness, as if I should be ashamed/it was unladylike to sweat that much and then walked away, looking over her shoulder with the same look of disgust she gave me when she signaled for me to remove my headphones. Mind you, I was doing my HIIT workout in a small space, literally tucked away from everyone else in the corner of the gym as to not disrupt anyone else’s workout when I’m breathing like a French bulldog and jumping around like a monkey, so she had to cross the whole gym to come over just to tell me that I was sweaty.
Seeing that I was in the middle of my workout, I shrugged it off and focused on finishing my sequence. But as I continued through my workout, I got more and more angry. I wished I had come up with a different response, more along the lines of:
“That’s observant. Now eff off!”
“You should see me after I run a half marathon.”
“Thanks, I’m actually standing in front of a mirror right now so I am aware of that.”
“Um, I’m at the gym, that’s what you do…?”
But mostly: “Lady, are you f-ing kidding me?!”
I got so mad, that when I finished
sweating profusely my workout, I went to go find her and tell her, “You know, that’s really rude to interrupt someone’s workout. And I really don’t appreciate your comment about my personal appearance. It’s inappropriate.” I was PISSED.
Sadly, I couldn’t find her – she had left. Instead I’ve chosen to tell all of you.
There are so many levels to why this makes me so angry. First of all, I’m a 30 year old grad student with five years of professional experience under her belt – I can handle a little abuse (just being hard as nails is an aspect of my personality). However, what if she said this to an undergraduate student? An 18 year old girl, who had just come to a huge university less than a week ago, was in the first week of classes and was just trying to get a workout in before her 8 am class? Would she not want to come to the gym anymore? Maybe.
Would anyone ever say this to a male? I think not.
Plus, it’s just straight up rude to INTERRUPT someone’s workout to make a comment about their personal appearance! HELLO!
But most of all: how DARE you shame someone during their workout! Literally fuck off.
My morning workout is my space, my ME time, and the way I choose start my day so I can be the best version of myself, for myself and for everyone around me: calm, refreshed and ready for anything. Interrupting that, for anyone, anywhere and at any time is just beyond shitty. I can think of zero reasons, beyond a dire need to communicate something pertinent relating to the health and safety of an individual, where it’s okay to interrupt someone who is working out. Things like, “That treadmill is on fire!” or “Watch out, the floor is extremely slippery” or even maybe an extreme Girl Code moment such as “Girl, your pants are split entirely up the rear end” (I mean, I would want to know) are acceptable.
So, today’s life lesson is: don’t talk to strangers at the gym. They do NOT want to talk to you.