A Friendly Workout: Etiquette for your Sweat Sessions


As the CEO of a mid-size company, I realize that keeping mind, body, and spirit healthy and connected is essential for my sanity and to stay up to speed at work as I get older.  Working out regularly has been a passion of mine since the early ’80s. Working out and sports are two of my passions but it also keeps me in shape for this physical job of installing beautiful interior plantscapes. I started out in the early ’80s as a registered aerobics instructor and Nautilus trainer in the days of leg warmers.

Today, I’m an avid water skier and volleyball player, as well as working out with private trainers, TRX and spin classes and my favorite, circuit training at the gym. I also had two children that played organized sports starting at the age of five through organized organizations, club sports, high school, and college, so I have a little experience in this arena as well. Physical activity is just part of the fabric of my being. 

I’m always eager to encourage others to be active in any way that motivates them. If it’s at the gym or in an organized sports capacity, there are a few tips and tricks I’d like to share. The more you move, the more you’ll be rewarded–with more energy, greater flexibility, and better health. But like anything, a few points of guidance are helpful.

Here are my top 10 suggestions for working out in a friendly way:


  1. Drink water before, during, and after your workout. Proper hydration can mean the difference between a great workout and feeling like you can’t go on. Give your body the hydration that it needs.
  2. Work out clean–clean off your machines and mats after using them. Gyms are a breeding ground for germs unless we all do our part.
  3. Keep your phone conversations, both talk and text, in the locker rooms. If you can speak easily on the treadmill while you’re running, you’re not working hard enough to raise your heart rate. Be considerate of others.
  4. If there are televisions available, please be cognizant of what is showing. If you’re trying to boost your endorphins with exercise, you likely don’t want to bring them down with depressing subject matter on the TVs. I don’t want to watch things that are depressing or inappropriate on public TVs. If you’re going to watch a documentary about the Holocaust, bring your iPad and watch it there. Keep the environment positive and motivating for others.
  5. If you’re going to lift, get educated first. No one starts out lifting like Jack La Lane or Arnold Schwarzenegger. Get training with a private trainer or a class before you start lifting on your own or you can get seriously injured through poor technique.
  6. If it hurts, stop. The ‘no pain, no gain’ mindset is dangerous, especially for those just starting. If you’re in a class, ask the instructor for modifications so that you can keep up but stay injury-free. There are lots of ways to do an exercise, so listen to your body and honor your limitations–then work through them!
  7. Learn how to ‘work in.’ Instead of doing three sets on a machine, including your rest time, alternate with someone that is on the same routine. By alternating your sets with someone, you use the time more efficiently and don’t tie up machines for others. If someone else is doing this, ask to work in and then speak to management about monitoring the machine use more closely so that everyone has equal opportunities.
  8. For those that have kids in organized sports, respect your coaches but keep an eye on them as well. When your kids are in their formative years, influences like coaches can be valuable, and their behavior must be beyond reproach. Games should be fun as well as working to develop teamwork and health. In hindsight, I wish that we hadn’t tolerated some behaviors from coaches just because they were from a reputable club.
  9. According to the NCAA, only 3.4% of high school boys basketball participants go on to play at the NCAA schools in Divisions I, II, or III. Only 1% of high school participants go on to Division I play. Only 4.2% of those Division I players went on to the NBA in 2018. Your chances of getting hit by lightning are much greater than becoming a pro athlete. Have realistic expectations for your child’s participation and appreciate the value of just playing on a team and developing a love of the sport on its own.
  10. Be involved. Don’t just stand on the sidelines and criticize–get involved and make a difference. It takes a village to encourage our kids and to make kids’ sports a positive experience can mean a lifelong love of physical activity. These experiences should teach them to be great leaders, to work as a team, and to be disciplined and focused on a goal. So be positive and encourage instead of tearing down. If your child learns to take care of their body and work as a team, they’ve already won!
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