Gym Equipment is not Furniture

Imagine yourself doing a hard set of bench press to exhaust. You had to psyche yourself up for a few moments, breathing deep and long. You complete the set but needed spotter assist on the last two reps…Barely making it…. And then you are done. Seemed like an eternity.

You sit up, still seated on the edge of the bench. The natural impulse then might be to just sit there. Catch your breath. Re-acquire your bearings.

No, no, no. This would be OK if you were working out in the privacy of your home. Take a nap on the bench if you want.

inactive gym user

But you happen to be in a fitness facility. You should get up and get of the way. There may be someone nearby wanting to squeeze in a set too. Of course, common courtesy applies. Any differential weights change should be, say, adding or removing one, maximum two weight plates each end.

The other guy is a paying member too. Let him do his set. Then you can resume your next. This is how we co-exist.

However, in my personal experience, there have numerous instances where this simple “rule” is overlooked. Even abused.

I have seen people monopolize a piece of gym equipment despite others waiting (not necessarily in line) to use it.

You might be doing dumbell presses or pullovers on a flat bench. By all means, do them. But upon completion of a set, do get up and remove any towel or personal item from the bench. Then someone else could use the bench for something else while you rest and recuperate.

I also understand that, in an improvisation situation where some weight exercises require elaborate setups of various gym items. For instance, a T-bar Row setup with Olympic barbell, V-Grip and various Olympic weight plates. Surely, you do not need to disassemble the setup after every set. That said, you might want to move out of the setup, just in case another person would like to use it to. Just may be.

I have seen a gym member sit, reclined at a 45 degree (or so) angle, on a Leg Press machine READING A MAGAZINE! The Leg Press had a headrest. What a comfortable place to read!

Fortunately the gym was not busy at that moment. And my training regiment that day did not involve the Leg Press machine.

However, I did run into unfortunate situations inevitably.

At the time, I was member of a chain of Fitness Centers that allowed free, unlimited access of their branch network. This was a blessing as, at the end of a working day, I could visit the nearest fitness center, workout and shower, and head home after rush hour traffic subsided. No need to wade through heavy traffic to downtown where my mainstay gym was. This privilege also gave me access to different types of gym equipment and variations thereof, that my regular gym did not have.

One time, at one particular fitness center, I was eyeing to try a machine that I have not used before. There was a certain young lady using it. Not a problem. I did a set on another machine instead.

I looked back. She was still there!

I went about another set and checked again. Still there!

She was just sitting there, doing her meditation or god knows what.

So I approached her, kept a straight face and politely asked, “Have you finished with the machine?”

In tacit reply, she held up two fingers, index and middle, palm facing out, which I inferred as “Two more sets.”

I had to make a strategic retreat thanking my stars that she did not give me the (middle) finger instead.

To finish the story. She did finally get off the machine. No, she did not spend the night on it.

Of course, one could monopolize a gym machine, if there was NO ONE else in the gym at that time. Sunday morning, 8.00 a.m. would be a good time.

I used to talk about this anomaly to gym management and staff but, understandably, they are in a difficult position. A reasonable person would not hog up a gym machine or equipment. An unreasonable person, on the other hand, would not understand. One wrong word and the Fitness Center loses a paying member.

So I write this, as a friendly reminder, more so to myself than to others, one’s privilege does not make infringing another’s right.

This problem will become (if it has not already) widespread in this day and age with the cellular phone phenomenon. I have already seen too many people using their cellphones on exercise machines!