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Gym Etiquette - Working Out At Work

By Nancy R. Mitchell, The Etiquette Advocate

If you are fortunate to have a gym or fitness equipment at your workplace, don't abuse your privileges by exercising boorish behavior.

More and more employers and companies are encouraging employees to focus on their health and fitness. From ergonomics to low-fat menus in the cafeteria, the health and well being of employees is a top management concern. After all, it's good business. A healthy work force translates into fewer sick days and helps to insure higher efficiency and productivity. 

In an effort to promote fitness, many employers are making it easier for employees to exercise during the work day. Some small organizations are finding ways to squeeze exercise equipment into under-utilized space, larger companies are installing state-of-the-art fitness centers, and at firms where outdoor space is available, fitness courses with stretching and strengthening stations are sprouting up like mushrooms in monsoon.

When adding exercise to the work environment, there are etiquette rules of the road that must be factored into the formula in order to achieve success for all. Here are a few tips to insure that your manners are as toned as your abs:

  1. Exercise for the right reason.  Are you there to stay fit, or do you want to show off your pecs or your exercise wardrobe?
  2. And, speaking of spandex, don't forget decorum when it comes to your duds.  Most people are uncomfortable when seeing a co-worker half-dressed in the gym or naked in the changing room, so exhibit modesty as well as muscle.
  3. Don't overstay your welcome. Adhere to the time limits set for use of equipment, and carefully observe the defined periods for coffee and lunch breaks. Exercise has its virtues, but is not an excuse for returning late to work.
  4. Keep your eyes to yourself and conversation to a minimum.
  5. Don't use your cell phone. Many people work out to escape the tensions of the work day.  No one wants to hear your business or personal conversations or a cacophony of ring tones.
  6. Return equipment to where it belongs when you have finished using it.
  7. Use a towel to wipe down a machine after use, and put down a towel before sitting on benches or furniture when you're sweaty.
  8. If you don't have showers at work, don't exercise during the work day.
  9. Clean up after yourself in the restroom or changing room. Don't leave trash or your belongings behind.
  10. If lockers are available, don't park smelly attire there to fester for days. 

Apply the rules you learned on your elementary school playground, and you'll earn a gold star in the company gym: share and take turns, follow directions, don't show off, think of others, and play nice.

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