Picture this pleasantry - you have an hour to yourself at the gym. No kids, no work, no phones, no laptops, no blackberries. Not even a gym partner. Just you and a full hour to work on your body and mind.
And the person next to you is grunting, swearing, gesticulating and becoming so loud you think there's going to be some kind of showdown. He won't go postal, he'll go gymnal!
New Yorker Christopher Carter was recently cleared by a court, on charges by a fellow exerciser that he had been assaulted for his loud grunts and otherwise anti-social behavior at their Upper East Side gym. The jury decided that the victim, Stuart Sugarman, had overstated his injuries.
Incidences like these are less common that the complaints of patrons leaving the equipment dirty and sweaty (remember that Seinfeld episode?), of hogging equipment, preening in front of mirrors, shouting during grueling workouts and way too much nakedness in the changing rooms.
Fights over gym territory seem to be the most common. According to a CNN story, "Fitness Guru" radio host Michael Feigin, and Half Moon Pilates founder, says "territorial fights are the most common problem he's witnessed in his 20 years in the business.
"People get very caught up in territorial disputes," he says. "If somebody takes 'their' bike or 'their' space, they'll go off the charts in terms of their anger. In the first studio I opened, I had a bylaw in the brochure that said no one space belonged to any one individual. I put it on paper because that's always such a huge dispute.""
People looking for 'love connections' at gyms are also a problem. Leering, wolf whistling and generally coming on to other patrons seems to go hand in hand with a gym membership, as well as inappropriate or unnecessary nudity in the locker rooms.
The New York Post interviewed Ken Szekretar, trainer at a New York Sports Club on the eastside as well as other gym members. "Some women I train say there are some women who spend a lot of time walking around and talking naked in the locker room.
One woman put her leg up putting on lotion, sort of for everyone to see. And it's always the people who should probably put a little [clothing] on, you know?"
Then there are horndog guys prowling for dates and leering at members of both sexes.
"It bothers me when guys try to pick up chicks. It's like going to a nightclub for some guys," said 29-year-old bartender Devin Meece.
On the flip side, he said he was more unnerved by men who felt it OK to undress him with their eyes.
"There's always some creepy guy in the locker room. There are times when I'm taking a shower and I feel like I'm being followed. Every time you turn around, they're there. It's a weird kind of stare. It gets to me, it makes me really uncomfortable," he said. "
So what does one do about all this dreadful behavior?
It's a tricky situation because what's annoying to one person is not annoying to another. Somebody who spends an hour on a treadmill with an iPod blaring music in his ears may be blissfully unaware of anything going on around him. Someone else, however, may have to deal with swearing and yelling 6 inches from her face at a kick boxing class. The best thing you can do is take it to management. Most will at least look into your complaint and advise the members (s) of co-operative behavior and codes of conduct. Repeat and serious offenders may be asked to leave the gym or relinquish their membership.
Not everything will be resolved. Unfortunately, some management will do nothing, or feel their hands are tied - and don't wish to offend customers, especially in light of gym memberships being down for the first time in a decade.
You can also feel free to politely remind a member to wipe down the equipment after use and to keep noise levels down. They may be unaware that they are not cleaning up after themselves or how much noise they are actually making.
Otherwise, you may want to use a different part of the gym or head next to that guy on the treadmill with his iPod.
All user-generated information on this site is the opinion of its author only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for any medical conditions. Members and guests are responsible for their own posts and the potential consequences of those posts detailed in our Terms of Service.