Get fit in a courteous manner

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Justice Simango

NOW that everyone has decided to get fit and join an exercise class, it’s time to plan and prepare for what lies ahead. Just like any other place, you will need proper attire, maybe some equipment, and definitely a good attitude before you go. One more thing you shouldn’t forget is to mind your manners.

There are quite a number of exercise classes in Bulawayo and if you’ve never been a member of any of them, you may not know what is or isn’t expected of you. To all those who are members of a particular gym, it’s not a bad idea to read over some etiquette tips so you don’t become that person everyone avoids.

Basic gym manners are important especially now that the vast majority of the populace is joining exercise classes to keep fit. Different age groups are attending gym sessions, for body building, while others go there to exercise and keep their bodies in shape. Either way, whatever reason you hold, the gym is a social setting and likewise, you are expected to show courtesy and be polite to your fellow members.

A well groomed member will firstly learn the class rules that are there for everyone’s safety and comfort. Your instructor or the facility where the classes are held may have some things that are specific to them. Take time to familiarise yourself with the gym facilities and if you are not sure how to operate particular equipment, there is no harm in asking — “even the genius ask questions”.

Wear appropriate attire and if you’re not sure of what to wear to your exercise class, ask when you sign up. I have seen ladies who let everything hang out as they bend and stretch in different directions. If you’re not sure about an outfit, try it on at home. Move around in front of a mirror to make sure you won’t embarrass anyone by showing parts they don’t want to see.I always say, there is a time and place for everything.

Chances are high that you will sweat from all the moves, but make sure you put on enough deodorant to keep the smell bearable. Whatever you do, please don’t stink up the place. You surely don’t want other members to avoid you.

Show up on time — most classes begin with warm-ups and stretches, and you don’t want to miss out on that, or you risk being injured. Also, showing up late will disrupt the class, which is obviously rude. Allow for personal space — leave adequate space between you and the people around you so you don’t bump into each other with flailing arms and legs.

The fact that different age groups are attending the same exercise class with you should not tempt you to be an attention hog. You might be the best salsa dancer in town, but when you join a Zumba class, do the routine that the instructor teaches. Save your best moves for the dance floor.

Chitchat later – when you’re in an exercise class, private conversations are disruptive and unfair to the others who are there to get in shape. If you can’t resist the urge to gossip, when you’re with your friends, avoid the temptation by splitting up and going to a different part of the class. You can always get together for coffee or brunch after the session is over.

Please desist from judging others. You may have taken the class before, or you might be someone who catches on easily the first time you attempt a new move. That’s not the norm. Other people may be awkward and struggle with every new exercise the instructor demonstrates. Instead of laughing at them and making them feel bad, give them a smile and thumbs-up to encourage them.

Leave your cell phone in a locker – don’t be that person who gets calls and texts during an exercise class. It’s rude to the instructor and other members who are there to get fit.

Don’t create a bottleneck. If the facility where your class is located has a booked schedule, chances are, there will be another class ahead of yours. Wait for them to leave before you try to enter. Also don’t stand in the doorway chatting with a friend or the instructor.

Stay with the routine — you might have a move that you think is better than the instructor’s but this is not the time to show off. That said, if you’re injured or can’t do something, it’s generally fine to do a modified version.

Clean up after yourself — bring a towel, exercise mat, and anything else you need for the class. When it’s over, pick up everything and stash it in a tote.

Don’t leave gum wrappers or anything else on the floor for someone else to pick up.

Just as important as the warm-up, the cool-down exercises will help prevent injury. And leaving early is just as disruptive as arriving late. Since exercise classes have become a hobby for most professionals, why not take the opportunity after class to network, make new friends and create relationships. It is way easier to start a conversation in a more relaxed social setting.

I know exercise classes maybe difficult, but you should still have fun getting fit. Whether you do it alone or with a friend, keep your attitude positive and focus on your goal. At the end of the day, you must enjoy and have fun.

Justice Simango is a Business Etiquette and Grooming Expert who writes in his own capacity. He is a member of Toastmasters International. Feedback: [email protected]

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