// Whatever happened to gym etiquette?

Renowned fitness business educator Thomas Plummer vents his spleen about inconsiderate members who may be giving your club – and our industry – a bad name.

Although there are options on almost every street corner these days, the perfect gym is difficult to come by – but once discovered it will be cherished and protected by members. To my mind, the concept of what constitutes a good gym is simple: I want a lot of good, current equipment; space to move and play; a staff that doesn’t come unglued if you do kettlebell moves or a dynamic warm up; and a clean and pleasant environment. However, I do realise that it is often members that ruin the sanctity of a club, not the owner or staff.

Travelling for a living, I try to keep working out while on the road. I have travelled for over 30 years, and I doubt that anyone has been in more facilities than I have in that time, continually searching for the perfect club.

Based on my experience of countless workouts done in hotel gyms, mega-clubs, neighborhood workout clubs, garages, parks and even the occasional women’s-only club after hours, I have come to the conclusion that there are now many more anti-social members working out in clubs than at any time in the history of modern fitness. Maybe it has something to do with the state of the worldwide economy. Maybe it is a loss of class and culture. Or maybe the age of decent manners has passed... Whatever the reason, there are more rude and obnoxious people working out in our clubs – and I think it’s time to identify them and tell them where to get off!

Here’s my take on the tribe of socially challenged gym-goers who give fitness clubs a bad reputation and make us look bad in the eyes of the otherwise prospective members – the general public.

You, poseur! I don’t care who you used to be. I don’t care that you used to be big and tough, scored a few goals in your high school footie days or were the meanest guy in college. You are now in your 30s and you are a mess. By all that is holy in the fitness business, lose the string tank top. Those meaty arms you are so proud of are 13 inches of muscle surrounded by four inches of jiggling fat and no, the tattoo doesn’t make your arm look bigger. Get a shirt, put down the bench press, walk away from the leg press and try a full body workout for a change.

You, stinky man! There is no excuse to smell so ripe when you work out. Here’s an idea: wear a clean t-shirt or shower before you work out, crack open some deodorant and maybe try to ease up on the garlic. You may enjoy your natural aromas, but we don’t. And while we’re talking body odours, you might be the worst of the lot, fart boy. There is a special place in hell for you populated by hundreds of flatulent factory workers amped up on beer and hot wings just waiting to blow you into eternity.

You stinky girl! Perfume is nice if I’m in a nightclub and it’s 2am, but if you’re standing next me when I’m working out at 6pm, it’s downright offensive. What you may think is sexy is choking the rest of us!

You, old man in the running shorts! We know you take great pride in having worn the same outfit every day for the past 16 years, but shorts cut that high on the side let far too many people see body parts that just aren’t fit for public consumption.

You, body builder dude! Screaming is stupid. If you can’t put it down with control, then don’t pick it up. Grunting, dropping weights, leaving bars stacked, slurping flasks of vile concoctions and wearing 1990s long pants and a huge belt is not cool – it only validates why there are only seven bodybuilders left in the sport.

You, Romeo! Women come to the club to work out, relax and to enjoy just a few minutes of ‘me’ time in their day. They aren’t your personal stable of potential dates sweating it out for your pleasure. Don’t stare, don’t flirt and don’t loiter at reception or in the car park for them after your workout – it’s creepy.

You, cell phone idiot! I don’t care if you are the president of the biggest company on Wall Street – talking loudly on a mobile in the club is poor taste and only confirms that your daddy gave you the job because you are a moron. Have to take the call? Then walk to the lounge area. If you can’t live without the phone then work out at home where you can irritate your future ex wife and leave the rest of us alone. The same goes for texting. Do not stand in the middle of the gym floor texting someone that you are at the gym. You may be at the gym, but you’re getting nothing done because you’re too busy messaging people about being in the gym...

You, spit fool! Whatever possessed you to think that hocking up a goober the size of a house cat and spitting it into the drinking fountain is socially acceptable? Do you really do this at home? Do you do this at work? Are you plain stupid?

You, seat saver! Hurray, you got to class early, but don’t try to save bikes in the front row for all your friends. One member, one bike and let the next person in take their own chances. Your behavior is rude and intimidating and drives other participants away.

You, liars! You signed a membership agreement with the club and now you are too lazy to work out, so you lie to the staff because you don’t want to pay anymore. Try a little personal responsibility here and pay for what you signed for. Clubs are not gold mines – you wouldn’t expect to be able to renege on a mortgage or other business agreement you have signed, so why expect to do so with your gym? Respect the club, respect your word and do the right thing.

And the rest of you rude members out there – pick up your garbage, don’t pee on the toilet seat, don’t flush un-flushables, don’t leave gum in the urinals, wipe your sweat off the bench, don’t stand there naked lecturing me about the economy, don’t hog three pieces of equipment because you just read about tri-sets in a magazine and don’t offer training advice when you’ve been working out incorrectly for the past 15 years.

Club owners and managers have enough challenges without also having to make adults out of immature idiots with no respect for anyone around them. With a little courtesy, these individuals could help make the club a much more pleasant and enjoyable experience for everyone.

Join fitness business legend Thomas for his sessions at FILEX 2012 where he will be presenting:

  • Where there is chaos, there is opportunity● Business Summit presentation
  • Simple marketing rules for the independent club owner ● A2B
  • Create higher returns through layered pricing ● B3A
  • The slow death of the big box fitness centre model ● B5A
  • The induction sales process: change the way you sell training ● C2A

For more information on Thomas’ sessions see pages 17, 19 and 20 of the printed brochure with your Summer Network magazine, or check out the fully interactive site at www.filex.com.au where you can also register for the convention or the all-inclusive Business Gold Pass package.


Thomas Plummer
A 30-year veteran of the fitness business, Thomas is founder of the Thomas Plummer Company and the National Fitness Business Alliance (NFBA), the world's largest provider of education for fitness business owners. Considered by many to be one of the most influential people working in the business of fitness today, Thomas speaks in front of over 10,000 people annually, and has authored six bestselling books on the business of fitness.