The gym is a place where everyone should be completely comfortable—well, as comfortable as you can be while you're driving up your heart rate, sucking down sports drinks, and listening to terrible pop music blaring over the intercom system.
Unfortunately, some people aren't considerate at the gym, which can really get annoying. Now, normally we'd love an excuse to stop exercising, but when we're paying a membership fee, certain behaviors really need to disappear. For instance...
1. Wearing cologne or body spray.
"Body spray," by the way, is for adolescent boys and possibly several species of amphibious rodent. It's not something that a grown man should ever own, let alone wear.
But if you insist on wearing the rugged scent of cedar-and-whatever, don't wear it to the gym. People are trying to work out, and that means a whole lot of breathing. You're basically gassing everyone with stale CK One, and that's obnoxious.
2. Wearing sunglasses.
Men wear sunglasses at the gym for two reasons, and neither of them are good. The first is that they're vampires (don't try to tell us that this isn't a reason—they're out there). The second is that they're checking out women "covertly."
We put "covertly" in quotes because everyone knows what you're doing. You've taken gawking at women and somehow made it more creepy. Leave the sunglasses at home or on the dashboard of your souped-up sedan.
3. Not putting away the free weights.
The "free" in "free weights" doesn't mean that you're free to leave them anywhere. When you're finished with the weights, it's common courtesy to put them back. Otherwise, the weight area becomes a minefield of loose dumbbells with sweaty handlebars (a description that can also apply to the guys who leave them laying around).
By the way, you also have to put the weights into the right spots. Otherwise, you're making the workout experience pretty obnoxious for the next person.
4. Leaving the weight on the bar.
Yes, women sometimes like to use barbells, because...wait, we really don't have to explain why. They're barbells. They're for everybody.
Don't assume that the next person on the bench will be able to lift the same amount of weight. After all, you had trouble lifting it; if another person can't get the weight off, you've basically made the machine unusable.
5. Unsolicited advice.
Some friendly advice is fine, particularly if you see someone with bad form who's risking an injury. However, you should preface your advice with something like, "Mind if I give you some advice?" If the person doesn't want your help, don't give it to them. Their bad form really isn't your problem.
Plus, many of the guys who hang out at gyms giving advice to women aren't exactly personal trainers. They're simply looking for an excuse to start conversation, so they resort to mansplaining how a treadmill works.
6. Treating the gym like a dating website.
That leads us to the big one: don't hit on women at the gym.
Most people go to the gym to work out—crazy idea, we know. They want to feel comfortable, and they're not looking for a date. Asking them out can make things weird and make the gym a less welcoming place.
Now, if you're regularly striking up conversations with a woman and she seems interested, you can put yourself out there, but recognize that a "no" in the gym is a firm answer. In general, you shouldn't hit on women when you're covered in sweat and smelling like dirty socks, anyway.
7. Hoarding the machines.
One of the most obnoxious guys in the gym is the dude who takes up four or five machines at once because he's doing a "circuit." That guy needs to chill out.
You can only use one machine at a time, and that's all you're entitled to. Work out, move on. If someone's on the machine you want, bad news: You're going to have to wait.
8. Dropping weights on the ground.
Yes, we get it, you've seen Olympic weightlifting competitions and you thought it looked cool. It doesn't. It damages the bar and floor, makes an obnoxious noise, and turns everyone in the gym against you.
It's also a really good way to accidentally injure someone, so give it a rest. If you have to drop the weight as soon as you get it up, you're using too much weight.
9. Doing your calisthenics outside of the clearly designated areas.
Some guys love to do pushups in the free weight area, or next to the treadmills, or on top of the roof of the gym, or wherever else they think that they can gawk at women most effectively. The same goes for sit-ups and stretches. Hey, it's a gym, right? Doesn't that mean that you can do anything, anywhere?
Most gyms have clearly defined areas for these exercises, so know where they are and use them as intended. Nobody wants to walk over a dude just to get a drink of water.
10. Excessive grunting.
This is a big one. Yes, you're going to make some noises when lifting big stuff; that's totally fine. You have to keep breathing while you're lifting weights, and sometimes, that means an accidental grunt or two. We're fine with that.
But if you're screaming in agony every time you lift the bar, maybe use a little less weight. You could also wear some sort of masks that quiets your screams (that might not be practical, but it'd be pretty hilarious).
11. Standing by a machine waiting for a woman to get done with it.
We get it; you're next in line. That's no reason to hover over a woman passive aggressively. When she's done with the machine, you're free to do your reps, but don't act like you've got somewhere to be and your triceps absolutely have to be pumped by the time you get there.
12. Sitting on a machine and texting.
Oddly enough, this is often the same guy that hovers over the machine while waiting for a woman to finish up.
Maybe you're between sets, and you want to make sure that nobody grabs "your" machine. Too bad. If you've got enough time to pull out your phone and text, do everyone a favor and and take a walk. Nobody wants to pay $20 a month to not work out while watching you tweet.
13. Trying to talk to a woman who's wearing headphones.
Headphones are code for "I don't want to talk to anyone right now." If you say something to a woman wearing headphones, she'll have to stop her music, ask you to repeat yourself, and then shut you down before resuming her workout. It's a hassle, is what we're saying.
By the way, the best response to this behavior is to simply keep your headphones on and nod while smiling like a maniac.
14. Not wiping the sweat off of the machines.
Everyone hates this. All gyms have rules against it. Why do some guys still do it?
We'll be fair and admit that women do it, too, but guys tend to be the culprits. Maybe they really want someone to accidentally touch their sweat; maybe they think that their sweat isn't so bad. In any case, it's disgusting. Towel off the equipment or buy equipment of your own.
15. Sitting on the machines without using them.
You're taking a break between sets, so you sit there for a minute and towel off. Maybe you'll use that time to check out people around you. Maybe you'll read the paper.
Maybe, just maybe, you could move to the side for a minute and let someone else use the machines. It's really not complicated—gyms are for exercise. If you can't be bothered to exercise, get out of the gym.