Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Fitness Class Etiquette

Well, I just got back from a fantastic kickboxing class, and it occurred to me that somewhere, in every gym, there should be a class etiquette code, posted in a very conspicuous location--maybe even members should have to sign some sort of etiquette contract before entering.  We all know that there is gym etiquette, but not too many people seem to realize that there is an unwritten (though it should be written) fitness class etiquette.

  1. Don't stand directly in front of or behind anyone else.  After being on the receiving end of this one, I came up with the idea to write this post.  It's bad enough to stand directly in front of someone so that the person behind you can't see themselves in the mirror, but it's just as bad to stand directly behind someone.  For one, the person in front of you is constantly afraid of kicking/punching you.  And what's more, he/she is going to feel like they are breaking the etiquette rules and continually try to move away from you.
  2. Quit your whining!  If it's hard, march it out.  Don't start complaining or making up excuses; it brings morale down.  Most people are at the class for motivation.  When one person starts the negativity, it brings the rest of the class down.  And yes, I'm the girl that will tell you, "Oh, come on, you can do it!"  Perhaps it's obnoxious, but you're not going to break my drive to push harder and go faster.
  3. Be on time or be in the back.  Arriving a little early to pay up and set up should be obvious, but things happen.  If you show up late, find a spot in the back, don't go scooting in front of other people to get a spot front and center.
  4. Personal space is golden.  This is another one that should be obvious but often isn't.  You should be standing far enough away from the people around you that if one of you kicks or punches in the wrong direction by accident, no one is going to get hit.
  5. Pipe down!  Don't chat during class.  A lot of people make comments to their friends during class and it drive me nuts.  As a dance teacher, I know it can make the instructor feel uncomfortable, but it also distracts everyone else (not to mention you and your friend).  On that note, turn your cell phone off, too.
  6. Talk to the instructor before/after class.  Don't try to hold up the class by asking questions or discussing your deepest thoughts in the middle of class.  If you have an injury, you should let the instructor know before class so he/she can tell you the proper modifications you should make.  If you think you're doing something wrong, the instructor is there to tell you and will let you know.  If you're still not sure, wait until there is either a water break or until the end of the class to ask questions about form, technique, modifications, etc.
  7. Don't complain about how fat you are.  This is one that no one seems to know about.  And it's especially offensive if you're the thinnest one in class.  But even if you're not, it makes people feel uncomfortable and it appears as if--and it may very well be--you are just fishing for compliments.  Feel free to discuss goals and challenges your having so you can get feedback and support, but nobody wants to hear, "Look how fat I am."
  8. Stay for the whole class.  Do not, I repeat DO NOT, leave because a class is too hard or, even worse, too easy.  It's offensive to the instructor.  If you have to leave early because you actually have somewhere to be, ask the instructor if it's okay ahead of time and stay in the back so you can sneak out without disrupting everyone else.
  9. Be a humble hero.  If you're the best, strongest, fittest one in class, don't let everyone know it.  Tell others that you notice improvement or that they're really doing great work.  Chances are everyone is looking up to you or even envying you.  You'll motivate them to try harder and come back each week only if you're not a jerk about it.  And you just never know when someone fitter is going to show up and put you in your place.
  10. Always say thank you.  After every class, thank the instructor and any assistants for their time.

Are there any I've forgotten?  What bugs you during fitness classes?

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