Fitness is booming. Bodybuilding, which used to be a cultish subculture, usually limited to the working class has gone mainstream. Gyms, dank holes in the wall, frequented by the hardcore muscle maniacs, are now home to the middle-aged, middle class homemakers and pimply adolescents from affluent backgrounds. So, gyms have changed, chrome and bright lights have replaced the earlier smelly, musty, barely-lit basements, which were rather aptly called, “The Dungeon”, or “The Pit”.
The gym owners are laughing all the way to the bank, but the old school types look at the invasion of their space with dismay as the culture has completely changed. Unfortunately, most of the newcomers are not aware of the unwritten rules that were fastidiously followed in the old-time gyms. These are not the usual run-of-the-mill rules, which you will find plastered on the walls of all the gyms like “replace all weights after using”, or “don’t drop the dumbbells” etc. I am talking of those rules, which can lead to injuries if the gym goer is not aware of them or does not think they are mere affectation:
•Squats have not been called the king of all exercises for some mythical reasons. They are hard to do especially if done with sufficient weight and proper number of repetitions. Seeing a person squat a heavy weight is usually an awe-inspiring sight in the gym. So, it goes without saying that if a person is squatting, try and stay away from them. Do not walk behind them or indulge in any kind of horse play behind a squatter, because if he/she loses their concentration bad things can happen. Also, if they need to dump the bar suddenly, the bystander could get hurt.
•Be aware of your surroundings while moving about in the gym. Somebody might be doing overhead presses and you walk too close to them and the next thing you know; you have a dent in your head!
•I am seeing this more and more – people stand around leaning or holding on to weight machines or loaded bars on a bench. That is a good way to lose a finger or even a hand if somebody decides to use that equipment.
•On a similar note, the weight racks and machines are not meant to be towel stands or bottle holders, so do not put your sweaty towels and dripping water bottles on them. Otherwise, this shows a lack of respect for the tools we use to build our bodies and grow stronger. It is also disrespectful towards other gym members.
Some rules to live by!
1.Avoid standing or walking too close to somebody doing an exercise. Do not stand in front or behind a person doing any ground based exercise – deadlifts, squats, overhead presses etc.
2.Wipe your sweat off benches, mats etc. after you have used them. Better still put your gym towel on the bench before using it.
3.Always ask if you can use a plate or dumbbell if it is lying close a person doing an exercise.
4.Be aware of what is happening around you. You might be engrossed in your phone and somebody dumps a bar on your foot. That will surely spoil your day, believe me.
A gym is a shared public space. The earlier people realize that, the better will be their gym experience. Or if you can always set up your own private gym and do as you wish!