Etiquette for Being Fit
by Abby Bratton | published Sep. 2nd, 2019
As the semester begins, remember that a balanced lifestyle means more than just a balanced class schedule. Academics are important, but they won’t keep you physically healthy (or train you for the zombie apocalypse). For that, RIT offers intramural and club sports, wellness courses and, of course, the hard slog down the Quarter Mile to your 8 a.m. classes. The university also maintains recreational facilities, including the Judson/Hale Aquatics Center and the Red Barn Climbing Gym. But if you hate depths and can't stand heights, don't worry! The Wiedman Fitness Center provides a more traditional gym setting for workouts.
Before you hop onto a treadmill, take the time to learn the fitness center’s rules for courteous behavior. While most of these expectations are universal to all gyms, Wiedman lays out seven core etiquette standards.
Blood, Sweat and Tears (Well, Sweat, At Least)
The first etiquette policy listed by the Wiedman Fitness Center is “Wipe down the equipment after use.” Nobody wants to deal with your sweat — they have enough of their own already. Beyond that, diseases that can be transmitted through sweat pose a serious risk, according to Associate Director of Recreation Jennifer Lewis. She listed methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), which can be spread through skin-to-skin or skin-to-shared-equipment contact, as a prime example of this.
"That’s one of the big reasons why we have the fitness attire policy in place: ... to minimize that skin-to-equipment contact, to prevent those kinds of diseases,” Lewis explained.
Amelia Sykes, a fourth year Marketing major who works in the fitness center, gave another reason to abide by the dress code: no employee wants to have an awkward conversation with you about what you’re wearing. That’s uncomfortable for everyone.
Sweating causes other issues, specifically for the nose. As the etiquette list phrases it, “Good personal hygiene makes it pleasurable for all.” In other words: wear deodorant.
Sharing is Caring
For students, faculty, staff and alumni to all get their workouts in, two more etiquette policies are necessary: “Do not monopolize any one piece of equipment” and “Rotate within circuit with other patrons whenever possible.” (To avoid confusion among electrical engineers and gym novices, "circuit" refers to a cycle of a series of exercises.)
According to Lewis, these rules have become more crucial in recent years thanks to the increased use of cell phones, leading to longer rest periods between sets that might keep others waiting. “If people are using the equipment, they should use the equipment — and not be checking their phone,” she said.
Pick Up Your Mess
When you’re ready for a longer rest, it’s time to look to the next item on the list: “Return equipment to its appropriate place.”
“It’s just like you were taught when you were little," Lewis said. "If you use something, put it back. If you dirty something, clean it up.”
“If you use something, put it back. If you dirty something, clean it up.”
Her statement segues into another etiquette suggestion: “Please keep the fitness center neat and clean.” This can be helped, Sykes explained, by not bringing backpacks in when you work out.
“People are allowed to bring their own equipment, but we prefer them to just bring it in hand and not in huge bags,” she said.
If you have to bring a bag with you, remember that the gym’s locker rooms aren’t just there for aesthetic purposes.
Courtesy and Consideration
The final point of etiquette given by the fitness center is “Be courteous and respectful of others.”
“Consideration is a big one," Lewis said.
She went on to say that this includes addressing complaints through the proper channels instead of taking out your frustration on nearby student employees. If problems occur, she recommends heading to either the Student Life Center main office or the equipment cage. Employees in either of these locations should be able to help with the issue or direct you to someone who can. Sykes further emphasized the need for respect.
“Respect the other people that are in there, respect the environment and the space ... a lot of other rules will apply or resort back to that,” she said.
Part of showing respect, Sykes explained, is not judging others.
“Unless it looks like someone’s actually going to hurt themselves doing something, you don’t really need to feel like you have to say something or correct someone’s workout.”
Sykes and Lewis detailed several other forms of polite conduct, including bringing your RIT ID, asking employees how to use unfamiliar equipment and refraining from making too much noise.
“If you’re lifting heavy weights, don’t grunt. We know it’s heavy, you don’t have to make a huge fuss about it,” Sykes said.
“If you’re lifting heavy weights, don’t grunt. We know it’s heavy, you don’t have to make a huge fuss about it.”
Finally, Lewis stressed the importance of patience and understanding.
“When you create an environment that’s respectful and welcoming and appreciative of different people’s backgrounds, then I think that you just make it more of an enjoyable environment for people to keep coming back to,” she said.
A healthier student body is a good outcome to aim for, whether on a university-wide or individual scale. Wiedman presents opportunities to work toward that goal. Just remember that any gym is a social space, much like a fine dining establishment, and there are certain polite standards for conduct. Keep this etiquette in mind and you’ll fit right in at the fitness center.