Miss Manners Says

As a whole, human beings are a sensitive lot. The lack of civility in any locale—rush-hour traffic, waiting in line at the post office, or at your desk at work—is often quite upsetting. The gym is no exception. The importance of functioning politely and courteously in a setting in which you're likely to see many of the same faces day after day can't be stressed enough. Of course, the basic manners of normal society apply in the gym: no belching, releasing gas, or other discourteous behavior is acceptable. However, there are a few particular items of gym protocol that you should know in order to make everyone's life under the fitness roof more enjoyable—including your own.

Deidre and Joe know a hulking chap who was offended by a woman who refused to let him "work in" with her. (We'll discuss "working in" in a moment.) Here's a man who's worked out faithfully for more than 20 years, a man who has a shaved head and more muscles than most Rodin sculptures—in short, an intimidating figure—and yet her rude dismissal left him as wounded as a little boy excluded from a game of pickup basketball. "I can't believe that," he muttered over and over as he got madder and madder. The point is that civility is important—on the road, in the workplace, and in the gym.

We also know a man who often bellows so loud in the gym on his last few repetitions that one fears for anyone with a weak heart. Lest you think we're exaggerating, the roar is an obnoxious combination of a martial arts expert breaking bricks and an elephant orgy. Simply put, it's noise pollution. Joe once politely informed him that this was considered "unorthodox" and he essentially countered by saying, "Hey, I pay my money, I can hoot as loud as I want." True enough, but most people consider him a self-involved goofball.

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