Don’t Talk to Strangers at the Gym

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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
  • Burpees
  • Side Shuffle with Knee Hold
  • High Knees
  • Elevated Push Up
  • Jumping Lunges
  • Skaters
  • 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.

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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?!”

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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.

With warmth,

L

18 thoughts on “Don’t Talk to Strangers at the Gym

  1. To be fair…I talk to quite a few strangers in the gym…

    but not to be rude to them, and not while they are working out…just in passing or at the water fountain… and not if they have headphones on, isn’t that the universal sign for don’t talk to me…

    This lady was clearly just rude! I would have been angry too…and probably less polite than you!

    mind you I was relatively polite to the man who stopped my workout to tell me that I could be using the “ladies” bar in stead of the olympic bar I was using. Despite the fact that I wasn’t actually struggling with the one I had… I think shock takes over in this situation…

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    • I totally agree! Talking at the water fountain or a “Hi”/acknowledgement of someone’s presence is totally okay in my book – I’m mostly referring to interrupting someone who is clearly in the middle of their workout. Comments seem totally unnecessary.

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      • you are very right there…as you say, what if you were a not very confident person new to the gym!! Just how stupid and judgemental some people are never ceases to amaze me!!

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  2. Maaayyyybe she was trying to be nice, such as giving you the chance to take a water break. Some people see sweating as an inconvenient, bad thing. Pushing yourself for physical awesomeness just means sweating a bunch as your body tries to keep itself cool, but some folks don’t see it that way. But I also didn’t see her expression, sorry that’s stuck in your brain.
    In any case, it’s another experience that legitimizes wearing your game face, telling everyone around to leave you alone while you work.

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    • Totally!! Game face for the win!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

      I understand how you could see it that way, as in she was trying to be nice. Usually, I like to give people the benefit of the doubt, too. For me personally, it really was her facial expression that gave me the insight on how she really felt about me sweating – disgust, and like I was doing something wrong. This may not be true for everyone, but I’m not someone who wants to be interrupted at any point during my workout, especially not one in which I’m really pushing myself hard to complete a sequence as quickly as possible. I tend to try and really focus on what I’m doing, and outside interruptions can mess up my workout groove. I feel that, despite anyone’s personal feelings about sweat, they shouldn’t interject their opinion about it when you’re a) busy/actively working out and b) oh wait, ever – it’s really none of their damn business, in my opinion.

      I definitely appreciate you stopping by and bringing some more insight to the situation! It’s always good to hear how other people would react to certain situations and what they get from it, or how they may interpret it. It helps me become more aware of my own reactions and interpretation. A diversity of opinion is what I welcome around here! 🙂 Thanks for your comment.

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  3. WHAT!! Like, its not bad enough to rudely interupt someone doing HIIT but to say something so rude also!!!! I am like you too I always think of a reply after the event,
    I once had a huge bodybuilder guy stand next to me in the gym once waiting to get on a rack and he kept saying how small I was and telling his friends to look at how small I am, like I was some sort of freak show. I finished my workout pretending I couldn’t hear him but I was so angry that I cried in the locker room. I get so annoyed at myself for not just telling him to EFF OFF!
    Next time you see her make sure you get real close and spray her with your hard earned sweat! haha

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    • That is so effed up, Angela. I am angry that happened to you. SO RUDE! Like, get outta my face! I don’t blame you for being upset. The gym should not be the place where you get unsolicited comments about your physical appearance, when you are trying to do something that is beneficial to your physical and mental well-being, and is hard enough as it is without comments from the peanut gallery. UGH.

      Also, as I was telling this story to another one of the grad students, she said the same thing, lol. I will find that lady and actively get all my nasty, disgusting, HIIT-induced woman sweat on her. 😛 🙂

      Thanks for sharing your experience, I appreciate it! xoxox

      Liked by 1 person

      • I know, and like you said if it was someone who maybe was there for the first time or not very confident they definitely wouldn’t want to go back! I can’t understand why people think that’s ok?!
        Ohh please do it, I’d love to see her disgusted face when you do it!! Xo

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  4. 1. Great article–love the gifs.
    2. Damn girl, that’s an intense HIIT regimen–get it!
    3. Fuck that lady.

    Love the blog, hope all is well and good luck with the start of school. Hope the rest of your day is free of nonsense haha.

    Take Care,
    -IK

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    • IK!!!! YAY! I love seeing your name pop up on the comment box. ❤

      1. Thanks, homegirl. I'm so glad you liked it! GIFs are the best.
      2. Thanks x2! That was after I did a whole agility leg sequence with hopscotch jumps, fly girl, single leg glute bridges, knee tuck jumps, and bounding. (I'm working on firing up that posterior chain, so I can run like the wind).
      3. Hear, hear!

      Thanks, I hope the same for you too – nonsense free and that life is treating you well! Sending you lots of love. xoxox

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  5. That is just plain awful what that lady did. In my opinion, if you don’t go to the gym to work your butt off (and therefore SWEAT!!), why the hell would you waste your time in going then? I actually hope she tries to tell you again someday so you can put her in her place next time around haha. Keep it up and most importantly, get that sweat on girl!

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  6. That was an unbelievably rude occurrence at the gym. Would she have walked up to a man and said that? I doubt it and how discriminatory is that? With all of media attention on body image, especially for females, and not in the most positive vein, you would think women working out would be applauded, not chastised!
    I have fought my whole adult life for women to be taken seriously. Strides have been made but obviously not enough. When you are a woman working out and someone, anyone, makes a comment on size, sweatiness, or skill they should be ashamed. You can bet men never hear comments on their workouts that are meant to diminish them.
    I admit nasty thoughts arise once in a while (due to having had to quip back quickly much too often). If I was smaller, I’d probably say “it’s a good thing I am as you look like you would flatten this machine and then I wouldn’t be able to use it”. If I was sweaty, I’d say to the woman who made a comment, “I feel sorry for you that you find it necessary to make a rude comment, but most of all for not experiencing the joy of a really good workout”!
    There are various ways a woman can answer negative comments. You can ignore them, argue back, call them on it, deflect them, or one that has worked for me in some situations, “would you be saying this to your: mother, sister, girlfriend, wife or daughter?” Maybe it will make them think twice before they do it again.
    You ladies are to be commended for your dedication in working out. You will maintain powerful minds and bodies that will enable you to accomplish great things. Support and encourage each other as you are our greatest hope for the future.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Preach!

    Sorry you had to experience such rudeness. To echo what the above commenters said, if you see her again, you could give her a big sweaty hug while layering on the sarcastic thanks: “Thank you SO much for telling me this! I do love a good sweaty workout, and I’m looking forward to re-hydrating all this sweat I’ve lost once I’m finished!”

    Affect a Southern accent and throw in a “bless your heart,” and you’ll never hear from her again.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. From a guy that considers cardio a spectator sport, of course you are right 1) never invade someone’s workout unless the equivalent of a fire or riot. 2) never give negative advice to anyone, especially the highly vulnerable. High / highest on that list young females aware of their appearance.

    Sadly, the oaves needing this enjoinder won’t be reading your post, and won’t think it applies to them if they do. Let us all be diligent by policing jerks … and praising the most vulnerable (just not during their workout), every chance we get.

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  9. That’s so rude! I agree that when you go to gym you should push yourself every time – hell, I even sweat when I do weights, never mind cardio! I love the gif of Lucille Bluth, from arrested development, literally one of my favourite series.

    If you have time, check out my latest blog post about someone interrupting my workout. Although, mine was more funny than rude thankfully! Check it out at http://www.tootinghustle.wordpress.com and let me know what you think!

    Happy blogging x

    Like

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