Is it okay to talk to people at the gym?

By Roland D. Nasasira

Primarily, the gym is a place meant for exercise. However, some things such as having conversations are at some point not optional. The main challenge is that starting up one is somewhat hard, especially if you are new in a given gym or if you are an introvert.

Respect and courtesy
Stuart Oramire, a gym instructor in Naguru, advises that if you are to start up a conversation especially in a public gym, approach a fellow gym user with respect and be courteous. He, however, says this factor is in most, if not all gyms, emphasise.
“If someone is using a particular machine in the gym and I would like to use it, I approach them with respect and politeness, especially if I am not known to them and request to use the machine when they are done with it. That way, I start a conversation of getting to know the person and them to know me. Do not ask to know them and you do not want to be known in return,” Oramire advises.
“But if I am known to them, the approach becomes different. I can ask them if I can use the machine in a joking way or when I am teasing them,” he adds.

Mind social etiquette
“If you would like to use a machine and it is occupied, give the person time to finish up because it is a public gym and you all pay the same amount or charges to use it. If you want the instructor to stretch you and spend more time on a machine, you need to be friendly in nature and understand that other people also need assistance. Do not act like you own the place and you are the only person there,” Oramire says.

Your approach
Edward Nsubuga at Eddie’s Spa in Gayaza says most of the people you will find in the gym are always willing to have a conversation with you but what you need to consider is how you talk or approach them. This will set the foundation for you to have a chat with your fellow gym user. “If you approach someone for help in form of a question, they will open up and talk to you even if you are just pretending to need their help,” he says.
“If someone is wearing a garment or outfit you have admired or liked, you can chat to them by asking them where they bought it and how much it cost. The conversation you start could even be about something topical or trending in town,” he advises.

People willing to help out
Eric Wakabi, a regular gym visitor, says the easiness with talking to people in the gym is that most people always want to play the gym instructor role to people they realise or notice are new to the gym and need some help as they work out.
“If you are stuck with a particular machine and someone is willing to help you out, allow them because you do not know when you might need them. They will ask you what other help you need and the conversation will flow naturally,” Wakabi says, adding that it is all about having an open mind.

Oramire adds that unless you are a certified personal trainer, do not go around correcting other people’s form without permission. If someone asks you how to perform an exercise, do not give them advice unless you are absolutely sure because injuries happen all the time and your wrong suggestion could end up hurting someone.
“Above all, always respect the people around you and follow any posted rules that your gym may have. If you see someone breaking the rules, ask them politely to correct the behaviour or talk to the facility manager about the problem,” he adds.

Proper gym etiquette
Clean up after yourself. Most gyms have cleaning supplies available. Use them to wipe down your equipment before heading off to the next station.
•If you take something out, put it away. Leaving dumbbells, bands, exercise balls and other equipment on the floor is a tripping hazard and makes it difficult for other members to find the equipment they need.
Learn to share. Do not leave your towel on the machine and walk away expecting the machine to still be available when you return. Everyone has a right to use the equipment, not just you.

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