13 July, 2011
What's On HK

The Gym Rules

13 July, 2011

New Sassy contributor AC tells us her rules for working out, without annoying your fellow gym-goers!

I have lived in Hong Kong for nearly a year and joined a gym almost immediately upon arrival, hoping to keep up my pre-move-across-the-world routine of lifting weights and riding the bike. I did not think that fitness centers would be much different in Asia, so I was not surprised to find out that many of the bad habits Americans have at the gym proved true for Hong Kong patrons. Here are some rules for working out at the gym that are applicable around the world from the ever-observant girl working out next to you (who’s clearly more interested in you, than in her workout)!

  1. Walk the Escalator
    When I go to the gym, I plan on working out, sweating a bit, and using my energy.  A normal enough expecation one would think. Then why is the main form of getting upstairs to the actual workout equipment an escalator? I realize that we are in Hong Kong and escalators are the main mode of transportation, but whatever happened to stairs? Why not start the workout early and walk up the escalator (or at least stop taking the elevator)?
  2. Wait for the Janitors
    At my gym, there is supposed to be a five-minute interval between each class for the janitors to sweep the floor, the class attendees to set their yoga mats outside, and the instructors to switch. What really happens is the previous class gets out and the upcoming students rush in, practically knocking over the janitors.  Trust me, if you wait one more minute, you will still get a good spot and it will be a clean one.
  3. Speed it Up
    I have been known to be guilty once or twice of talking too much at the gym, but I for one can talk and workout at the same time.  This is not always the case for everyone as sometimes they talk and sit… On the equipment. My favourite though is when people sit and don’t talk. Instead they take ten minutes to do one machine when I can do two. I am all for resting between each set, but when you wait too long, your muscles fall asleep, not rest.
  4. Wipe it Down
    You’ve just run 10K on the treadmill and are sweating from every pore. You get off the machine, and walk away to another sweat-inducing activity, yet you’ve forgotten one very important step: to wipe away your sweat!  I don’t plan on doing it for you even if I am next and your helper is at home, not at the gym trailing behind you.  It is simple enough to take the free towel handed to you at the door and do a little sweat dusting.
  5. Be on Time
    I had a yoga class instructor once who told a latecomer that the class was started and that she could not join us.  Yes, I said once, even though there is a handful of people every class I attend that come in late.  We are not talking a minute or two late, but five or ten minutes, and even halfway through class.  I understand that things come up, taxis get stopped by red lights, and that there was a good sale at H&M, but that does not mean you can waltz in mid-class.  Next time, skip the sale or use the weights outside instead.
  6. Dress Appropriately
    You are in public when working out, so please choose appropriate clothing. The gym is not a fashion show, but a place where you could see potential clients, coworkers, your ex-boyfriend, or even the guy who serves you coffee at Starbucks.  Instead of wearing your tiniest attire, choose what fits you best and that is the most flexible for all those stretches you plan on doing and the weights you’ll be lifting.
  7. TV and Music Choices
    As a patron of the health center, we do not have a choice over what is being played on TV or over the radio, but maybe we should. At my gym in America, there were double the amount of TVs and a remote control so that we could decide what we would rather watch and what would motivate us to run a little faster: CSI or America’s Next Top Model.  A person’s music choice is often very personal too, depending on what motivates them most. I prefer dance and club music, where I have friends who enjoy being screamed at by heavy metal bands.  I even have a friend who prefers classical music, but when the gym only plays one style of tunes, and very loudly at that, it can actually be rather motivating… To leave.
  8. Please Stop Staring
    In the workout classroom at my gym, there is a huge glass wall where the rest of the gym can see in. I am guilty of this and should take my own advice, but when I am waiting for my class to start, I love to watch the other people make fools of themselves.  There is always a dance class before mine on Thursday nights and, man, can people get into those moves! I admire their bravery, especially knowing that at least ten people are outside gawking at them. When I’m in downward facing dog, I really do not appreciate being stared at, so maybe more chatting with your classmates out there and less staring and laughing.
  9. Put Down the Phone Business transactions and conference calls should be held in the office, not on the stationary bike.  You should also concentrate more on those leg presses than on the latest updates of your debauched night out last night in LKF. I do not care who hooked up with whom (unless of course, you’re my friend) or that you are selling your stock shares in McDonald’s.
  10. Wait ‘til I’m Dressed I enjoy a friendly conversation or two when I am at the gym, but there is one time I do not care to talk to anyone: in the locker room when I’m naked. There are times in my life when I don’t mind chatting in the buff, but in the changing room at the gym is not one of them.  I think you can at least wait ‘til my bra is back on and my shorts have been changed.

Maybe I am asking too much for an all-at-once transformation, but at least consider that there are others around you who are watching and judging your every move.  Pick one of the above and try it out next time you go the gym and you just might notice a friendly smile or two being thrown your way.

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