Learn to exercise proper gym etiquette

Junior Ryan Vo pumps out his last few reps at the Payne Center as he works on his gym etiquette Tuesday afternoon. | Photo by Aaron J. Stewart
Junior Ryan Vo pumps out his last few reps at the Payne Center as he works on his gym etiquette Tuesday afternoon. | Photo by Aaron J. Stewart

Walk through the entrance of the 7,900-square-foot WorkOut Zone at the Payne Center and you will find a cornucopia of machines and equipment with which to work out.

The gym is an excellent social environment, with so many fellow fitness enthusiasts eager to socialize. The new equipment, paired with a panoramic view of The University of Southern Mississippi’s campus, provide a great gym experience. But it only takes one jerk to ruin your day at the gym.

And one moron is bad enough, but if it’s a group of three or four discourteous people, then you better prepare yourself for an unpleasant workout. But wait, why should you have to deal with that kind of behavior? Why should we tolerate the idiocy and rudeness of other gym-goers?

It should not be our responsibility to put up with them. Rather, it should be their responsibility to learn what is and what isn’t proper behavior. If you want to begin working out at the Payne Center, or even if you have been working out there for some time now, you need to familiarize yourself with some unofficial rules for gym etiquette. After all, just because they’re unofficial doesn’t mean they aren’t universally accepted.

1. Respect the employees. Most of the Payne Center’s employees genuinely care about you and your workout. They can help you by teaching you how to use equipment or showing you how to do an exercise. So when one of them asks you to do something, you should respect them by doing as they ask. Don’t give them an attitude like a kindergartner who has just been scolded. Just shut up and do as you’re asked.

2. If you’re not using the equipment, let someone else use it. Too often there are people playing around on their phones or talking to friends while sitting on a piece of equipment that other people need. If you are just sitting atop the bench press seat without actually doing the lift, then you need to get off of it. As Denman Mims, a junior political science major, said, “I hate when people sit on the machine I need to use and just sit there texting their boo thang.” Don’t just sit there texting your boo thang. Do the lift.

3. Wipe down equipment that you’re finished with. Hey, man, I’m really proud of you for being able to do that many reps on the crunch machine. That being said, I don’t particularly care to lie down in a pool of your sweat. Guess what! They have sanitizing towels for you to wipe machines down with, in dispensers throughout the Payne Center. So there is really no excuse not to wipe down the machine, other than you being a jerk.

4. Don’t dole out bad advice. This is best said by Meriel Howlett, a senior nursing major and group exercise fitness instructor at the Payne Center. “A huge pet peeve of mine is when someone is trying to train someone else and doing a very poor job with it,” Howlett said. “No, not every WOZ staff person that works knows the proper techniques for every lift or machine. But when you’re telling someone something completely far-fetched and wrong and I intervene, don’t get mad at me for preventing that person from injury. My job is to keep people safe. If whatever you’re doing or teaching is not safe, I will say something and I won’t care if I hurt your ego.”

5. Feel the urge to grunt? Don’t. Yes, I am sure that whatever you’re doing is strenuous, and yes, I’ll bet that weight is heavy. But nobody wants to hear you grunt like a water buffalo in mating season. You have one task: pick up heavy stuff, and then put it back down. So when you think about it, adding the no-grunt policy into that mix is not really that difficult.

6. Don’t mock others in the gym. Leland Yarnell, an exercise science major and certified personal trainer, listed a couple of his gym pet peeves for The Student Printz. Among them was laughter by any individual at the expense of a fellow gym-goer. “Everyone who goes to the gym is bettering themselves in some way,” Yarnell said. Rather than putting people down, Yarnell said, “Make the most your time there and help people push past their barriers.”

There may be one or two more unofficial rules that you should keep in mind -like re-racking weight correctly- when going to the Payne Center to workout, but for the most part, just be courteous of other people around you. As Yarnell said, “Just be respectful of the equipment and the people.”