5 Do’s of Athletic Club Treadmill Etiquette

Have you ever noticed how the treadmills and other aerobic fitness equipment is positioned so closely together in athletic clubs that at any given time an errant sweaty elbow might invade the space of the next door participant? It has been a few years since I had a membership at an athletic club, because I prefer to run and bike outside where I can breathe fresh air and have Mother Nature’s scenes unfold before me. Now that I am rehabbing my foot, I am supposed to do repetitive short spurts of running, mixed with walking, on a stable flat surface, so I have ventured back into the community gym. It didn’t take long before I remembered why I prefer the outdoors. I have come up with 5 do’s of athletic club treadmill etiquette.

1. Manage your space. Most clubs have a row of several treadmills along a wall, window, or other area where you can watch the goings on of TVs, people, or traffic. Unless you are superstitious or have a favorite one, DON’T mount the treadmill next to the ONLY other runner that happens to be working out. This is creepy. It messes with their rhythm and disrupts their concentration. Runners have all sorts of rituals and for most of us, if we are running on a treadmill, we are miserable. We only want to get it over with and any slight change in our little world will send us into a complete psychic breakdown.

2.Manage your volume. OK, it’s awesome and wonderful that you love Flo Rita, and I’m so happy that you’re a Wild One, but, seriously, keep it to yourself. Turn down your ipod. You are not the DJ of the day, sent here to cure me of my treadmill boredom by spinning your favorite tunes. And while I’m at it, DON”T sing along with your music maker! I might have to punch you.

3. Stop grunting. What’s with the people that think they need to grunt, moan, and otherwise make obscene noises while working out? It’s a treadmill buddy, NOT the International Weight Lifting Championships.I think if you are in that much pain, you shouldn’t be running so hard. See a doctor or something. Better yet, shut up and slow down. You are not impressing anyone.

4. Check your odor. It never ceases to amaze me how I manage to end up next to the person that has eaten nothing but onions and garlic, hasn’t washed their work out clothes in weeks, and didn’t shower after the previous night’s alcohol and sex marathon. Seriously! It’s earth shattering how disgustingly nauseated I get while trying to continue breathing while inhaling your vile, fetid stink. Here’s a suggestion: if you notice the posters on the walls starting to curl, and people around you turning away and dry heaving, take a quick sniff of yourself. Go to the locker room and at least take some soap and wash your arm pits. While your in there, check your “undies” to make sure you are not carrying around some extra surprises, and when all else fails, take your work out OUTSIDE. Next time, consider some good deodorant, and clean clothes. You are rude and inconsiderate!

5.Tread lightly. I often wonder about people that relentlessly stomp on treadmills. Why do they do that? What is the logic? The other day, I was next to this guy who made so much noise hammering away on that poor machine, that I thought he was going to break it. The whole room was shaking. (See #3 above. OF course, this type of runner also seems to be guilty of making every noise possible as if he is running for his life from the mob!) How does that feel? How’s your back? Don’t you hear yourself?

I hope to take my running outdoors permanently very soon. In the meantime, I will endure the claustrophobic challenges of using an indoor treadmill. If you happen to see me on one, my best advice is to steer clear. I am not happy here. I am not well. I may be prone to sudden outbursts of tears. I may start yelling at the machine and accusing the time clock of being broken. But take heart, I will be gone soon and you can have your safe haven back. Then you can stink, sing, sweat, groan, and slam all over the place without me.