It’s January. Tourist season. People are flocking to the gym for the first time in ages to make good on their resolution for fitness, health, a slimmer waistline, better pecs.
Tourist season can be a frustrating time for both gym locals and gym tourists. The locals, who call the gym home every month of the year, appreciate that tourists want to love the gym as they do, but groan at the increased traffic, the fact that long held traditions aren’t being followed, and that their regular routine is disrupted, even if just for a brief period of time.
At its core, gym tourism is a good thing. It means more people are getting fit, feeling better, looking great. Gym tourism is long term economic prosperity for our healthcare system. But unlike other places tourists visit, there is no Lonely Planet book a gym tourist can consult to learn how to act, look and sound so they fit right in.
So in the spirit of positivity, here are a few recommendations from gym locals on how tourists can better enjoy their stay, however brief, in their new foreign country, the gym:
- Remember you are a tourist. It takes time to learn the social norms of the gym. One day you too could be considered a local, but don’t expect too much too soon. No matter how Lulu’d up you are, or how much testosterone you can grunt, you have a virtual camera around your neck. Be polite, ask questions, wait your turn.
- Cleavage (even if it is Lululemon-induced), wife-beater tank tops and short man shorts have no place in the gym.
- Clean up after yourself. Your mother probably taught you this when you were young and in the gym, the same principle applies. Put your weights away (in the right place) after you’ve used them. Wipe down your equipment when you are done. Keeping the gym clean means enjoyment for tourists and locals alike.
- Locals are both male and female. When you see women using weights or machines you might want to use, don’t assume they are tourists or lightweights. And no matter what country you are in, a lady is a lady. Going out of your way to rudely kick a woman off of a bench or squat rack could lead to you getting your ass verbally kicked, or at the very least, that local woman taking her time and working in another couple of sets.
- You can find mirrors in most parts of most gyms. These devices are helpful for checking your form, monitoring your progress and covert people watching. However, don’t use them for posing, self-admiration or ogling. Remember that mirrors mean that people can watch you too.
- Deodorant. Consider it your passport. Don’t even think about entering the gym without it.
- Sometimes locals forget these rules. They should know better. If you see a local acting like a tourist, call them out. Make fun. Stand up for your new country.