Why To Exercise Today: To The Woman Who Was So Nasty At The Gym

Some nice U.S. Navy weight room camaraderie (Wikimedia Commons)

Some nice U.S. Navy weight room camaraderie (Wikimedia Commons)

Dear fellow gym member:

I’m trying hard not to let you ruin my morning. I’m telling myself you were surely stressed, irritable, hurried.

Still, it was simply shocking to get your blast of negativity during my workout — and over what? That I somehow wasn’t using the weight machines in the right order — as if there is an order? Finally, hurt and nonplussed, I said, “You know, we’re all just here fighting the good fight…”

What I should have added was, “…and when you’re nasty at the gym, you’re violating a social contract that the rest of us understand. It’s worse than just being nasty on the street or in a line. The people here really are engaged in a fight to do the right thing, to work out despite fatigue or depression or indolence. When you spew your ugliness onto your fellow soldiers instead of offering support, you’re helping the wrong side.”

“You’re upsetting a delicate balance; if you turn the gym into a more negative experience for me, beyond the healthy discomfort of stressing my body, you make me that much less likely to come tomorrow. You’re striking a blow for the sedentary lifestyle and chronic disease. Is that the side you want to be on?”

The thought of reporting you to the gym managers crossed my mind — but what would I say? “Just FYI, this woman could be bad for morale.”

But I’ve decided instead to focus on the positive: the fact that your behavior was so shocking because the vast, vast majority of my time at the gym is so positive and uplifting: powerful music, honest sweat, friends who praise each other, creative inspirations that tend to hit only during or after strenuous work. The list goes on and on.

If I were a bigger person, I’d wish you all of those things. But at the moment, I’m just wishing you a newfound passion for marathon running — or any other sport that requires you to train outside.

Readers, has something like this happened to you? How did you respond? 

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  • frequent gym user

    I admit that I have sometimes been a bad guy at the gym. The thing is, there is an etiquette that must be followed! For starters, people are terrible at re-racking their weights. Also, sometimes there is a right order in which to use the weights (if it’s a circuit-training area). I get super annoyed when people just hang out on equipment waiting to do their next set. Usually I say, “hey, do mind if I do a set on that machine while you’re resting?” But sometimes I’m less polite. I also get a chip on my shoulder because I think women getting treated badly in the weight room. I feel very tangibly marginalized. So, I’m sorry you got a negative comment, and I agree with everything you said: we are all fighting the good fight. But are you sure you weren’t breaking one of the unspoken rules of the gym?

    • BevyCY

      In YOUR mind there is a right order. And if a rule is “unspoken” it’s no rule at all.

      • wickedkevin

        OP mentions a circuit. A circuit is a series of machines in a set order in a set amount of time. Someone going out of order screws the circuit up for everyone else.