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Follow simple rules of group fitness etiquette
By following a few simple rules of etiquette, group fitness classes can be both a physical workout and a mental refresh - photo by Kim Cowart
Between house renovations, politics, and general frustrations with people who know not what they do, my irritation meter is running high. Thank goodness for group fitness.

Its my happy place. Its where I sweat away the stress in my life and leave it in a big puddle on the floor (which I will wipe up right after were done).

Group fitness should be a place to decompress, but once in a while when the class rules of etiquette are breached, what should be a cathartic workout turns out to be another notch on my belt of annoyances.

Most violations occur unbeknownst to the person at fault. Its not fair to send someone the stink-eye for breaking rules they knew nothing about. So here are a few of those rules to help you and your fellow classmates make that one hour possibly the best hour of the day.

  1. No phones. Turn them off. Put them in your bag. Do this for you and those around you. Its disruptive and disrespectful to the members and the instructor to carry on a conversation with someone over the phone. If necessary, take the call outside. But do yourself a favor and make yourself unavailable for one hour. Your brain and cortisol levels will thank you.
  2. Dont carry on a conversation with another member during class. If its too important to wait, take it outside. This violation is especially egregious during the cool down for members looking for a few peaceful moments to breath, stretch and relax before going to battle with the rest of their hectic day.
  3. Do not come sick. Youre not a superhero because youre working out while battling pneumonia. Youre rude for spreading germs and possibly endangering the health of those around you. Go home. Rest. Come back when youre well. Well still be here.
  4. Be mindful of your space. Some classes become very crowded. Add big coats and gym bags and soon enough the room is a minefield of accidents waiting to happen. Lock up your belongings. Bring in only what you need. Dont set up your equipment so close to someone else that it impedes their movement. A good instructor knows how to modify activity for a crowded room, but your tote bag doesnt need the workout.
  5. Dont be an equipment hog. Even the most well-equipped gyms can run short of essentials when a class is crowded. You dont need two mats for extra cushion during crunches. One works just fine.
  6. Listen to the instructor and follow their cues. Dont come to a Zumba class and do a weights workout. Even if the music does pump you up, its disrespectful, distracting and confusing to those around you. If you need to modify your workout, let your instructors know so they can make sure those modifications are safe and effective.
  7. Do come early. If youre new, take a few minutes before class to introduce yourself to the instructor, voice any concerns, ask questions and find out what equipment is needed. In addition to answering questions, your instructor may have a few announcements or feedback to share with the class.
  8. Come prepared. Bring your water bottle (preferably one that won't spill when knocked over) and a towel to wipe up your sweat. Dont show up to a cycle class in booty shorts. Chafing is real and painful. Does your club provide yoga mats or do you bring your own? Do some research about the class beforehand either online or by asking someone at the club.
  9. Trust the instructor. If they recommend lighter weights, its probably for a reason. A good instructor knows how to get the most out of the workout. They're certified and constantly learning. Their goal is to work you hard, but safely and with purpose.
  10. Have fun. Working out is a privilege, not a punishment. If dancing in front of others makes you hyperventilate, dont do U-Jam. But if thats where you release your inner-diva, go for it. Our bodies were meant to move, so find the method that makes you sing.

Follow these simple rules and make that group fitness room a respite from stress for you and your fellow classmates.