Does etiquette matter when it comes to working out?

We all have pet peeves. Fruit salads that overuse mayonnaise and people who chronically pee on public restroom toilet seats top my list. For my buddy Brenda at the gym, nothing sets her off more than an inconsiderate soul leaving heaps of used towels around the locker room sinks or floors. It seems to get worse during this time of year, with countless droves descending upon our fitness club following their New Year’s resolutions. Chances are that their mommas didn’t raise them this way. So you have to wonder – does etiquette matter when it comes to working out?

You don’t have to be Miss Manners to know the answer is yes. That is, if you’d like to keep coming back. We’ve all glared at the guy who hogs four stations in the weight room during prime time, or made sure not to get off the elliptical machine quickly for the chick waiting nearby carrying on super loud cell phone conversations. Long-time exercisers should know these infractions and more. But if you’re new, you might not. After all, Time Magazine estimates that 60% of gym memberships will go unused as resolutions fade. So I’ve prepared a list of tips to help those with good intentions thrive at their new fitness club.

Rule #1 – Clean up after yourself. You know that sweat puddle on the floor underneath your stationary bike? It’s normal to create it during intense workouts. Just don’t leave it behind as a token of affection when you’re done. Mop it up with a towel or disinfectant wipes. The same applies for sweaty benches in the weight room and equipment in aerobics classes.

Rule #2 – Less is more. Lots of people bring hair dryers, styling products and flat irons to use in their locker room clean-up. But there’s no reason to go overboard when sink space is at a premium before work. In the past few months, I’ve seen one girl bring in her own radio despite the fact that a satellite music channel is piped already into the area, and another spread a week’s worth of clothes, makeup and products around a vanity area designed to accommodate four. If I’m blogging about it, you know others are noticing too.

Rule #3 – Respect boundaries. My boyfriend cracked me up with a story about a strange, fiftyish woman at his gym who wore a spandex leotard that resembled a corset. She would constantly interrupt others during their workouts to correct their form or offer advice for doing it better. Only problem is that she wasn’t a certified fitness trainer and her tips were all wrong. The day that she interrupted my guy to incorrectly “correct” his form on the rowing machine, he had no problem revealing his status as a member of a crew team. Needless to say, she never bothered him again.

Rule #4 – Do Onto Others. Treat people with kindness and respect and typically, that’s what you’ll get in return. Haggling with a fitness fanatic for the last spot in Yoga class isn’t very Zen. Rudely cut another person off to get the last spin bike in class, and you can be sure no one else will save you a bike next time.

Do you think that etiquette matters at the gym? Any other rules or advice to add to new exercisers?