Commentary: An open letter to new members at my gym

Congrats on that new gym membership you bought to help with your New Year’s resolution. I’m not going to welcome you; the rest of us already fight like wild dogs for parking spots in the same ZIP code as the gym.

You, my friend, are nothing but competition.

Instead, let me offer a few suggestions.

First, statistics show you’ll abandon that resolution by mid-February. We gym veterans wait you out like a bad cold until we can finally get back into spin classes without the waiting list.

The Bubble of Nakedness

In the locker room, respect the Bubble of Nakedness. If someone’s junk is hanging out, he should be treated as if radioactive.

This is not a time to display your comfort level with the human body. Whoever gets to his locker first establishes the Bubble; the second person must quietly gather up his things and change across the room.

Avoid eye contact or other pleasantries when someone’s in a towel; this isn’t the Playboy mansion.

On a more delicate note, if you had a meal that didn’t agree with you, don’t punish me with its aftermath. I’m taking in a lot of oxygen as I huff and puff on that stair climber; I shouldn’t be able to identify what you ate after your bender last night.

Also, the bathroom is for emergencies. When what you’re doing could peel the paint off the walls, it shouldn’t be done in a public restroom. If you’re sick, go to a hospital.

Grunts are annoying

Don’t be the guy who slams the weights to the ground after every set. This is not the show of power you think it is; it’s a sign you bit off more than you could chew.

Accompanying each rep with labor-pain grunts is not only annoying, it shows you’ve been watching too much professional women’s tennis.

Ogle your physique at home

Yes, gym walls are lined with mirrors, but you don’t need to ogle your physique like Narcissus in a tank top. You have mirrors at home; pose on your own dime.

Nor is the gym a fashion show. Some of you wear outfits more appropriate for a stage production of “Cabaret.” I get it; you’re in shape. If I wasn’t struggling so hard to make it through a workout without losing consciousness, I might even be able to admire you.

However, unless you want to see my fat hinder in spandex, do us all a favor and throw a T-shirt on next time. Don’t distract me when I’m trying to watch “Top Chef” on the elliptical.

Cell-phone etiquette and sweat

If you’re the kind of person who talks on your phone during a workout, let me tell you what the person on the other end of that call won’t: You’re really not that important. Your discussion on whether Melissa is a “whore” can wait until you finish your workout.

When it comes to using the machines, pick one that isn’t right next to another in use. Some of you spray geysers of sweat on the innocent, and these unwelcome baptisms are often the result of wild, unnatural moves.

Don’t walk backward or multi-task on these things: It’s a treadmill, not an audition for “America’s Got Talent.”

Oh, and one more thing: Much like wiping oneself after using the restroom, wiping down the machines after you use them is not a courtesy but a necessity. God knows where you (or Melissa) have been.

Just letting you know

Someone has to let new members know what the rest of us are thinking because the gyms keep forgetting to write these things down.

After all, I’ve been a member at our gym for over 10 years now ... mostly because I keep forgetting to stop the automatic billing.

So have a happy new year and good luck with that New Year’s resolution. I won’t see you until March, when the parking gets easier.

You can read more at and contact him at or follow him on Twitter @RobertFWalsh.