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The past month plus has had me running at the gym a lot since I have been getting my miles in before the sun rises. These miles upon miles have given me plenty of time to reflect on a myriad of issues, from running to politics to health to parenting. One thing which I have given a lot of thought to has been treadmill etiquette.
When exercising in close proximity to other people, there are certain basic rules one should follow in order to provide a safe and comfortable environment for all involved. I mean, let’s be honest, I would rather be outdoors pounding (on lightly gliding over) the pavement than breathing in the recycled and somewhat stale air of the gym. But when injury or weather or other obstacles keep me from running outside, I would like my treadmill run to be as pleasant as possible. So with that in mind, I came up with a list of guidelines everyone (I think at least) should follow when exercising on a treadmill.
Rule 1: Leave a Buffer Treadmill
This is a pet peeve for me, and I cannot stress this enough. If there are enough treadmills to leave a buffer, please leave a buffer. When you are running on the treadmill indoors, you sweat more and probably stink more (I know I do). Being in close proximity to someone else in this situation is not ideal. There’s nothing worse than when there’s a room full of open treadmills and someone saddles up right next to you.
Rule 2: Step Lightly, Breathe Softly
Just like the free weight section of the gym has those guys who grunt and scream and slam the weights down, so the cardio section has those people who grunt and growl and pound down on the treadmill far too hard. I understand sometimes you need to put in some speed work, but seriously leave these hardest workouts for outside, or learn how to take it down a notch. Your running neighbors will be thankful.
Rule 3: Bring and Use A Towel
As I said above, running inside is going to make you sweat. Even with overhead fans (and the tiny built-in ones in some treadmills) the lack of a true breeze means your skin is going to accumulate sweat. Eventually as you are bouncing away that sweat is going to start to fly in all different directions. Whether it hits your neighbor or even just hits an empty treadmill, no one wants your sweat residue on them. Bring a towel (or even paper towels) and wipe down frequently.
Rule 4: It’s Not Your Bedroom
We all bring stuff to the gym: our keys, phones, towels, extra clothes, sports drink, gels, bags, etc. However, just because you bring it does not mean you can just spread it out wherever you please. It is critical for your and others’ safety that your treadmill and the area around it be kept clear. If you cannot fit your gear in the cup holders and no nearby hooks are available, invest in a pad lock and use the locker room. Sure, it may take a few more minutes and you will likely see some naked old people walking around (because they just don’t care), but at the end of the day it may keep you or someone else from suffering an unnecessary injury.
Rule 5: Clean Up After Yourself
Most gyms now have Lysol type wipes or spray to clean the equipment after you have used it. Even if you do not feel as though you got the machine messy, it is simply good practice to give the treadmill panel and arms a quick wipe down after you are done. Not only is it polite but it also helps prevent the spread of colds, the flu, and more.
So that about sums it up. While I also take issue with people who spend their time on the treadmill walking at a snail’s pace while texting on their cell phone, as long as they are not taking the treadmill away from someone who wants to use it for legitimate exercise I don’t mind (though I will never understand the point). Just remember, most people run on the treadmill out of necessity, not love, so please try to make it an enjoyable experience for all involved.