Column (Justin DiBiase): Making the best out of fitness centers with dos and don’ts

Justin Dibiase

It has been exactly one month since the New Year, and while many of our resolutions to exercise are still going strong, many have died off as fast as the Dallas Cowboys’ playoff hopes. As a member of the community of “compassionate minds,” I feel the need to express the “dos and don’ts” of the Villanova fitness centers. Just think of the fitness centers the way you think of your dinner table at home. If you say “please” and “thank you,” there just may be seconds of Mom’s brownies waiting for you in the end. So remember, politeness pays. After all, who doesn’t love brownies?

DO … Enter the gym with clean apparel. It’s not so much that one must shower before working out, but when someone wears the same set of clothes at the gym for two weeks at a time without washing them, it can get a bit odorous. Trust me, no one wants to be doing dumbbell curls next to the kid who smells like a foot – that is, unless you like that kind of thing.

DON’T … Talk on the cell phone in the middle of the gym. It is completely acceptable to take the call away from the floor, but there is nothing that will break someone’s concentration more than hearing someone close by yapping about what Simon Cowell said on “American Idol” last night.

DO … Bring or borrow a towel if needed. Picture this. You spot an open bench in the Davis Center and are ready to do some triceps extensions. You place your leg on the bench and realize that you are knee-deep in sweat stew. This is not a pleasant experience, and most of us have experienced it at some point. So please remember my motto, “If you sweat, please don’t jet.”

DON’T … Be an elliptical hog. With the growing number of students exercising, lines for aerobic machines have become long. Instead of running for two hours while anxious people wait, try running for a shorter period of time and spend the remaining time doing other beneficial exercises. Believe me, you will look just as good in a bikini if you substitute 30 minutes on the treadmill with 30 minutes of Pilates. Don’t ask me how I know that fact, either.

DO … Return free weights to their designated places. There is a reason why the 25s are next to the 30s. Despite the signs posted around the gym requesting this, users still seem not to get the gist of it. It is important that everyone abide by this request because once a weight rack is out of order, it sets off a string of misplaced weights. Also, not returning weights after use is unacceptable. Didn’t your mother teach you to pick up your toys? Someone is going to get a “time out” for this offense.

DON’T … Cheat. Sure you might look cool when you load up a barbell with more plates than there are in Rachel Ray’s kitchen, but you are only cheating yourself when you do one-eighth of a squat. You wouldn’t cheat on a psychology test or your significant other, so why would you cheat on a machine? Try doing less weight with the proper form. Believe me, you will look even better in a bikini.

DO … Bring an mp3 player to listen to music while working out.

DON’T … Dance to the music on your mp3 player even if it’s NSync.

DO … Be polite. If someone is waiting for the machine that you are on, offer to take turns. If someone looks like they need a spot, offer your services. If people are making a fool of themselves, don’t stare – that is, unless they are dancing to NSync. Then it’s socially acceptable to point and laugh.

DON’T … Grunt like a madman (or woman). Sometimes when one is working hard and expelling energy, a small squeak is understandable. However, a grunt that sounds like King Kong atop the Empire State Building is entirely unnecessary. I understand that you want everyone to see how “jacked and tan” you are at the gym, but isn’t that what Facebook is for?

DO … Wash your hands before and after your workout. As much as I’d like to think that the wonderful Villanova fitness center staff cleans every spec of the gyms, I simply cannot believe that to be true. So unless you want more germs on your body than physically possible, please remember to wash up.

If we follow these handy dos and don’ts, our fitness centers will be much more pleasant places to utilize. If we treat the fitness centers more like our dinner table and not our residence halls, maybe we will get a little more out of working out. So please do keep those New Year’s resolutions, but don’t keep those nasty habits.


Justin DiBiase is a junior civil engineer from Franklinville, N.J. He can be reached at [email protected]