How to sweat: group exercise etiquette

spin roomDon’t get me wrong, I am by no means Emily Post; I’ve acted a fool many times (tequila is typically involved). However, I was raised to conduct myself a certain way in certain situations and places. Usually that means with some form of decorum and consideration for others. One of the places I think people fail the most is at the gym. The other is movie theaters, but we’ll save that for later. You’re shocked about that one, I know.

I’m well aware how difficult it is for a lot of women to even have the courage to step into a gym. I have faced these insecurities quite frequently.  Just signing up (membership is such a racket anyway), hopping on that first cardio machine, attempting to use one of those torturous looking weight lifting contraptions (Christian Grey designed some of those, don’t lie), walking into a group fitness class (especially when you find out the instructor is RUSSIAN)…it all can rather intimidating. God forbid you need to ask a trainer with less than 1/2 percent body fat a question. Staying on the couch and watching Psych on Netflix is so much more comforting. Well, Shawn Spencer, he’s more comforting.

We all know how important consistent exercise is for literally EVERYTHING. For the most part, it keeps me from wanting to punch everyone in the face. However, I’ve not stepped foot in my gym since December. I despise going the first few weeks of January for obvious reasons. I’ve been doing P90X and yoga DVDs at home. If I lived in a perfect world (read: had a job), I would actually be at American Power Yoga and bodybar almost every day of the week. Best. Workouts. Ever. But, in the meantime, I have to stick to LA Fitness. This is mainly for cardio classes (spin mostly). Until I get the mini Home Depot removed from my ankle so I can run again and/or get over my ridiculous and deathly fear of road bikes, gym cardio will have to do.

I am a member at the LA Fitness Signature Club in Uptown. Remaining a signature member is really the only “luxury” I’ve allowed myself to keep since cutting all unnecessary expenses. Exercise is important to me, I actually enjoy it and really like this  specific location (my other favorite? Universal City). Not to mention we all have a better chance of becoming President of the United States than successfully cancelling a gym membership. This location unfortunately comes with its own intimidation factors, as it’s in UPTOWN. Just think Courtney Loves Dallas goes to the gym. That pretty much covers it. Not always, but often. So it’s difficult, cause I’m no twig nor do I have a closet full of Lululemon. Movie t-shirts and my Target pants work just fine and I’m not going to be social. I was awfully proud of myself for getting in the car and making spin class this morning. Who knew my shoes still clipped in?

Then my worst nightmare sat down on the bike next to me. She was late. She smelled like Victoria’s Secret threw up on her. She had her iPod. And she couldn’t keep her mouth shut. If you know me at all, you know how annoyed I was by this.

After a successful 21.5 miles (meaning I didn’t die and didn’t rip her hair out) I thought about this on the way home. My BFF owns a women’s cycle shop in SoCal and taught spin for years and one of my best friends here in Dallas is also a long-time spin instructor, currently at some of the nicest gyms in town. So I also recalled what they’ve said regarding class etiquette, so this isn’t just my own personal opinion. But those of professionals as well. Below is what I (we) consider major issues and can easily be addressed, one would even think it’s common sense. I know we all agree that getting to the gym in itself is a personal achievement and being considerate of that and supporting each other  is important. So no need to be hussies when it comes to group exercise.

1. Thou shall be on time. I know life happens. Traffic happens, I lived in LA and Dallas so I get that. Especially when classes are immediately after work. And those crack of dawn classes are never easy to get to. But plan accordingly. This class today? 9:15 a.m. There is NO excuse for tardiness. At that time of day, you clearly do not work or are fortunate enough to have a very open/flexible schedule. If you are accidentally late, do not make a huge production when you come in. Especially in a yoga class. Get as prepared as you can outside the door, then come in and get situated as quickly as possible. Personally speaking, I like to get to spin class a little early. I like those extra miles/time on the bike. Same with yoga, because I like to quiet the hamsters that are spinning in my head beforehand.

2. Thou shall not smell like a florist. I know most deodorants have fragrance and for those we are thankful, better to smell like plumeria than body odor! But strong lotions and any perfume at all? Come on, sister! Yeah that guy in the front row is adorable, but he doesn’t care. If he does, he is confused as well. No one should ever walk out of a successful cardio class thinking “man, I smell GREAT!”

3. Thou shall not bring your own music. Instructors put a lot of time and effort (and often money) into creating their routines and playlists. Have some respect. The majority of the instructors I’ve encountered have pretty great and mixed taste in music. If you don’t like a song, WAIT A FEW MINUTES. It actually changes. Crazy town, I know. And – correct me if I’m wrong, cause it happens sometimes – don’t you need to hear the instructor’s cues? In a spin class you’re going to get all confused or in a kickboxing class someone is going to KICK YOU IN THE KNEE. The chick today had one ear bud in and the other out. So guess who got to deal with the racket coming out of the other? This girl. That’s not annoying at ALL.

4. Thou shall shut the hell up. There is absolutely nothing wrong with class camaraderie. In fact, my girlfriend who teachers here in Dallas has one class who always gets a little rowdy and she loves it. But the conversations between just you and your girl on the next bike or at your side in Zumba? RUDE. It can wait. And if you actually have the desire to talk that much, you’re not working out hard enough. And you’re naturally skinny so that just annoys me even more.

5. Thou shall clean up after your sweaty self. I feel like this should go without saying? I mean really? Cause…ew.

I know a lot of ladies who work out regularly, what are your thoughts? What keeps you going to the gym and/or potentially annoys you away?

Xo, Nikki

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