The Gym: a Sweaty Hotbed of Bad Manners

Don't make eye contact, put your camera away, and avoid balls-in-face nudity at all costs. Gym etiquette should be easy, so why do so many get it so wrong, asks Alan Tyers

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With its false promises of warmth and good times that turn back to grey, April may be the cruellest month, but for straightforward “there’s a lead weight on my chest” gloom, January remains the purist’s choice. Nobody expects to have a good time in January. Overweight, underfinanced, and bored of listening to people talk about detoxing and the weather and the New Year’s Honours list, many of us are lured by desperation into drastic shifts of lifestyle. We make wanton and unwise stabs in the dark, born of despondency, self-loathing and a vague sense that “something must be done”.

I am talking, of course, about the gym.

There are excellent articles on this very website from honed and healthy men instructing you on how to get in shape for the New Year. Any implication that we will enjoy the process seems, to some of us, even more unlikely than successfully executing whatever a Romanian Deadlift might be (something to do with jackbooted authorities forcibly clearing Marble Arch squatter camps?). Still, good luck to all concerned. May their cores remain always engaged and their burpees never lose their snap.

For those of us who were not picked first (or even at all) in PE, exercise is a necessary evil, generally undertaken in a fug of wobbling misery during the first few weeks of the year. Once the sun comes out, and you can ever walk around outside, things don’t seem so bad but, for now, we are stuck with the gym.

It’s not so much the physical trauma of swapping couch for pec-deck, it’s that the places are all so uniformly ghastly. And furthermore, the gym is a hotbed of appalling behaviour and poor manners.

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