Gym etiquette: It’s not an oxymoron, you moron

A writer only becomes a writer because she gets so fed up waiting for someone to talk about the big issues that one day she just up and decides to do it herself.

For me, these are issues like voter fraud, the corporate glass ceiling, gay-marriage bans and gym etiquette.

But especially gym etiquette.

Today, friends, I have come out of columnist retirement to list my grievances regarding Payne Whitney and to offer some solutions.

Did you miss me? Because I missed you. Let’s roll.

Over the centuries, society has invented endless rules to define appropriate behavior. Keep your elbows off the dinner table. Be quiet inside a library. Knock before you open a closed door. Why, I ask, are there none of these guidelines for the gym?

Gyms are sort of like push-up bras: ridiculous in theory, but in practice, a total necessity. A gym is a room filled with people moving as fast as they can but staying in the same place, or lifting things over and over that always end up where they started off.

When I was little, my brother and I had pet hamsters, Peewee and Pipsqueak, and I used to laugh at how Peewee jogged away endlessly on her little wheel, because I thought she was too stupid to realize she would never get out of the cage. Now I wonder if maybe she was logging all those hours because Pipsqueak did something to give her a negative body image.

The gym is sort of a freak show; if I spend too much time there I start questioning my own sanity. So, like a NASCAR driver at a pit stop, I go through the motions knowing every second counts. But the world can be divided into two kinds of people: people who go the gym to work out, and people who go to the gym to hang out.

Actually, three kinds if you count people who — gasp! — do not go to the gym.

When my definition of gym etiquette doesn’t mesh with that of my fellow fitness junkies, it’s a problem that swells into a morning fraught with frustrations and holdups. So, from now on, be aware:

I’m not a gym talker. I do not come to the gym to talk to you, whether you are my best friend, you’re in my section or you think I’m kind of cute. If I talk to you, then I will leave the gym five minutes late, get in the shower five minutes late, and I will be five minutes late to everything I do all day. Multiply that five minutes times 365 and that’s 30 extra hours in the gym. 30 HOURS! That’s an entire season of “The OC.”

If I see you talking and I don’t take off my headphones, or take only one ear bud out, I do not want to talk to you. The nod of recognition? This is instead of talking to you, not an invitation.

One of you out there screams like Linda Blair during your runs. I appreciate your enthusiasm but you are giving me a heart condition.

Some of the boys sweat like humans should not sweat. It’s not even sweating: your bodies liquefy onto the machine I’m about to use. Please, please, please wipe the machine off, because I don’t like swapping bodily fluids without at least a nice dinner.

But at least when Payne Whit is packed and I see one of the human fountains on a machine, I know they’re making good use of it. They are not nearly as annoying as you bony girls who tie up an ellipse but are BARELY MOVING YOUR LIMBS.

I don’t know if you chicks are hopped up on Xanax or what, but I’ve seen people in full body casts that are more dynamic. You giggle at each other (isn’t it fun to pretend we need to work out?!) as you slump on the handrails. I pray for a stiff wind to blow your feeble bodies off the machine so I can get my time in.

The same thing goes for you girls who hog the weight benches when you are blatantly not lifting weights but just moving around in cute ways to get boys to hit on you. You’re not fooling anyone when you “stretch” by getting in your favorite sexual positions.

If you leave your magazine on the last treadmill and think that you’ve staked it out, guess what? I’ll take that treadmill, and I’ll read your US Weekly too.

I propose that instead of a Varsity fitness center and a non-Varsity fitness center, we divide Ace Israel into a gym for people there to work out and a gym for people there to be social. If you’re on the fitness side, you can stay on a machine for as long as you are getting a visible workout.

Maybe a machine monitor would be employed to enforce this, like the guy who now comes around at Starbucks to make sure you’re always drinking coffee (but that’s a diatribe for another day– ).

Flirting of all kinds is prohibited on the premises, and conversations are to be mutually agreed upon by both parties removing their headphones in full.

Failure to understand the basic principles of weight training will result in your immediate deportation to your residential college gyms.

On the social side of the gym, feel free to show up in pink hot pants, matching spandex top and personalized Nike ID Shox — extra points for IDs like “gym bunny.” Jewelry and makeup, while not mandatory, are de rigeur — would you show up at Toad’s without your bling in full force?

It shall be understood that in the hang out gym, sweat is uncouth and insulting to others’ intentions to set a glamorous mood. One’s pace on the treadmill should be approximately window-shopping speed. Move no faster than you would move on a catwalk.

No one at the gym to hang out knows how to use the arcane weight machines, so they should be auctioned off for the purchase of additional mirrors, flattering lighting and a fully-stocked “wet bar” where interested parties can schmooze and buy each other “drinks” of Fiji bottled water.

Maybe personal trainers would be on staff to help users who have no interest in lifting weights but are dying to participate in the weight lifting atmosphere.

For the ladies, you can perfect the kinds of knock-‘em-dead poses sure to make that hottie on the next bench do a double-take. And for the gentleman? Faux-weights will be on hand so that even the stringiest Yalie can look like he’s benching 150.

The way I see it, everybody will be happy when we get our new divided gym. Until then, don’t talk to me, and for goodness sakes at least humor the rest of us by pretending to work out.



Liz Gunnison doesn’t sweat, she glows, and she always wipes down her machine.

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