By ALINE McKENZIE
KNIGHT RIDDER NEWSPAPERS
With the new year, it's time for people to join gyms as part of their resolutions. They may not know it, but there is an etiquette at gyms.
Here's how to be a gym jerk:
UWho needs a towel? You have no intention of wiping off the machines after you use them. That's why other people carry towels.
UWait, there is a use for a towel after all -- it can cover up the readout of the treadmill or elliptical trainer so others can't read the time, thus allowing you to go over the gym's time limit.
UIgnore the gym's dress code. If tank tops are prohibited, that just means people are dying to see your underarm hair.
UGo for drama. Moan and groan loudly as you lift weights. Let the people around you know just how hard you're working. Slam the weights onto the barbell or the storage pegs. Use your cell phone on the workout floor.
UPersonal space is for other people. If someone's using equipment that you're waiting to use, hover like a vulture.
UShare your musical tastes and your lovely singing voice -- sing along with your Walkman.
UWeights? What weights? Why should you put barbell weights back on the rack when you're done? It doesn't bother you, after all.
UOne word: Cologne. Lots and lots of it. You want to announce your presence, and how better than a fragrance that folks can't escape?
UWhen doing repetitions, keep the equipment to yourself. It's possible to alternate reps with someone else to save time, but why bother?
UAnd why do the customary set of 10 or 15 reps with, say, 60 pounds, when you can do 150 repetitions with 10 pounds and tie up a machine for a nice long time? (Make sure you do it at the gym's busiest time, too. Glare at anyone who has the nerve to ask to "work in," or alternate reps.)
UWhen you're late for a group class, shove right up to the front and take up a lot of room.
UIn the locker room, walk around nude as long as possible and be sure to stare at other people. And do some heavy-duty grooming -- trim calluses, for instance. Again, don't bother to wipe up any mess you make.
UWant to chat with a friend? Be sure to do it while you're sitting on a machine and doing nothing. It's best if you know someone else is waiting to use it. Also, converse loudly enough to make sure all the people within 200 feet can hear you over their Walkmans.
ULocker, shmocker. Just leave your jacket, tote, magazines and all your other paraphernalia on the floor next to the treadmill or stair-climber, so someone will be sure to trip over them.
UEarly-morning exercisers: Forget toothpaste and mouthwash. Think of all the people you can refresh with your Eau de Morning Breath when you start panting on the cardio machine.
UThose people running laps? Hey, it's their job to watch out for you when you barge across the track without looking.
UIf you're feeling sociable, head for someone who's obviously working out very hard or is crunched for time. Then start blathering.