If you’re thinking about starting the new year with a membership to a fitness center (we used to call them gyms) there are some things you need to know before you sign on the dotted line. First off, sixty-seven percent of people who buy fitness center memberships never use them.
You want me to do three sets of these? I’ll come back in…
There are over thirty thousand fitness clubs or health clubs in the U.S. with an average monthly membership cost of $58 dollars. What I don’t have statistics for are the number of fitness center members who don’t know the first thing about gym etiquette. It falls under the broader category of politeness. Let’s start with cell phones. Every fitness center I’ve ever been in has a clearly defined cell phone use policy posted at strategic locations around their facility. What is this sign saying?
There is nothing more annoying than being exposed to someone’s phone conversation. “Janie is dating this creep and I’m debating whether to tell her that,” is not something I want to hear while I’m trying to focus on how many steps are needed on a StairMaster to burn off a single calorie. Nor do I want to hear “The Giants are never going
to get back to the playoffs unless they sign a quality closer.”
There is a woman at my fitness center that has disregarded the facilities cellphone policy for the eighteen years I’ve been a member. She only puts down her phone to use the restroom or put more chewing gum in her mouth. I recently asked a local psychologist who dresses next to my locker why people disobey cell phone rules at fitness centers. “Their either entitled, or incredibly clueless,” he told me. I suspect those who are entitled are the same one’s Uncle Sam has to chase down at tax time.
Then there are the equipment squatters. The I’m not getting off this piece of equipment until I complete three sets of ten, and I take a five minute break in between sets person is extremely annoying. Proper etiquette calls for people to share equipment. Complete a set and then allow someone to work in for a set.
There are many other kinds of abusers that etiquette police should be hired to crack down on. I list them in order of the aggravation they cause me. (1) The wiping sweat off a piece of equipment person who says it’s not my job. (2) The I’m doing Tai Chi down the middle workout aisle guy, (3) The I don’t pick up my own towels person, (4) The my kids are showering in this locker room even thought there not supposed to be in here person, and finally, (5) The I’m leaving these hangers in the locker in the unlikely scenario that you might have a use for them person.
So, if you intend to be one of the fifty-eight million Americans who will use a fitness center this next year, just be apprised of the fact that you may encounter more challenges than the leg press that you can’t seem to master to your satisfaction or the sit up machine bar that puts a hole in your chest. Unfortunately, there are no statistics available on membership refunds.