If you’re planning on dusting off that membership card to your local gym in the new year, kudos! Regular exercise is one of the best things you can do for your body. However, if you’re planning on working out in a gym setting, there are a few hard-and-fast rules you need to know. Otherwise, you might be more susceptible to hissing than to high-fives.
Before you get to the gym
They say that 80% of a successful workout is simply showing up. Here are a few crucial things to remember as you’re getting ready to hit the gym.
- Be on time, and have a plan. Are you attending a group class or a personal training session? If so, make sure you arrive a few minutes early so you have time to stash your keys and fill up your water bottle. If you’re flying solo, make a rough plan of what you’d like to do – that way, you’ll have a more efficient workout and won’t wander around aimlessly.
- Wear appropriate clothing.
- For men, this means a shirt at all times – preferably with sleeves. Tank tops do provide a great breeze, but they also allow your sweat to travel considerably more freely. Also, your shorts should always be at least mid-thigh length, and compression shorts are a must. If you’re thinking about wearing a hat, think again: a knit beanie is the only thing that’s even close to acceptable in an indoor gym. A baseball cap will only serve to warn others that you will probably commit various other faux pas in the course of your workout.
- Ladies, even if you’ve got a six-pack worth showing off, please keep it covered in the gym. Aim for supportive and fairly modest clothing on your top half (although you can probably get away with a tank top, where the gentlemen cannot), and keep your shorts long enough to provide coverage when you’re doing high kicks or forward folds. Finally, remember to keep your hair in check, especially when you’re doing a group class involving lots of jumping around. Anyone who has ever been whacked in the face by a long ponytail can attest to the viability of hair as a weapon.
- Don’t forget deodorant, but skip the cologne or perfume. Even the most fantastic scents can become downright foul when mingled with plenty of sweat. Be considerate to other patrons by rinsing off any scents or lotions before your workout. On the other hand, for the love of all that is good in the world, please do not skip deodorant. This bears repeating: wear deodorant. Enough of it.
During Your Workout
Proper at-the-gym etiquette is all about respecting public space and other patrons.
- Keep it clean. Wipe down any equipment you use after you’ve finished your set. Even if you don’t see any visible sweat on that seat, the person who uses the machine next will appreciate a quick wipe-down. Most gyms stock their own towels and spray sanitizers; if yours doesn’t, use a damp paper towel. Also, when you use a sanitizing spray, make sure you’re not spraying the person on the next machine! Spray the rag first, and then clean the equipment with the rag or paper towel.
- Observe any time limits on popular equipment. 30 to 60 minutes is usually the cap on cardio machines, and gyms often post their time limits on the equipment. If there’s a waiting line for the treadmills, try a new kind of cardio, like a stationary bike or a Stairmaster. You’ll benefit from cross-training, and you’ll make a few friends, too. When using free weights, just be observant and considerate. (If you want to do supersets, you might have to find a time when the gym isn’t as busy.) Don’t hold onto machines or weights in between sets.
- On a similar note, give people their space. Unless someone wants company or is your designated workout buddy or spotter, they probably want a few feet of distance. Also, be respectful and try not to ogle anyone too much during your workout.
- Don’t talk on your phone (or text, for that matter) in the gym. The noisy environment means you’ll probably end up yelling at the person on the other end, who you won’t be able to hear that well in the first place. If you must take or make a call, do so outside or in the lobby.
- While some exercises—especially heavy lifting—will no doubt draw some noise from you, there’s no need to be overly loud about it. Save the grunts for the tennis court!
If you participate in a group class, you’ll probably be in close quarters with other gym-goers.
- Be friendly, but not disruptive. Say hello to those sitting near you, but don’t carry on a conversation during the class. It’s disrespectful to the instructor (who can probably hear you) and to your classmates.
- Follow the program. If you’re more advanced, save the crazy-difficult moves for designated “free choice” portions of class, or just refrain from them altogether. On the other hand, if you’re a beginner, let the instructor know. He or she will provide alternate exercises for you throughout the class, so that you can participate without injuring yourself.
- Be early; don’t leave early. Come in a few minutes early if possible, so you can get situated and won’t have to climb over anyone for a spot. If you must leave early, do so quietly and with some advance warning to the instructor.
In the Locker Room
The locker room is one place where over-the-top friendliness just won’t fly.
- Eyes to the floor—period.
- Respect others’ space and time. Take a quick shower, and use only a small portion of the counter. Blow dry your hair, apply some basic makeup, and get out the door. Pack a gym bag the night before your workout so that you have all of your toiletries ready to go, and try to keep your primping routine low-maintenance on gym days.
Working out at a gym is a great way to meet people—and you’ll have great success if you observe proper gym etiquette!
The difference between American and European greetings has long been known. The American prefers a firm handshake, while a European opens with a kiss on the cheek. It has been the subject of many a TV comedy faux pas. But in modern times, meeting people of different culture is commonplace. So in honor of this month’s Olympic opening, let’s pucker up for a look at the etiquette behind a greeting kiss.
The Social Norm
It may be unsurprising that the social “rule” for kissing is as murky as any other. Not only does it vary between the US and Europe, but also between different countries worldwide. A Russian might kiss you three times on alternating cheeks, while in Italy two kisses on the cheek is acceptable.
As if that is confusing enough, who you can kiss is as widely varied as how you can kiss. In the US kissing is usually reserved to family and very close friends, while in Italy kissing is common amongst acquaintances.
Though the standards of social kissing may be blurry, it’s important to recognize situations in which kissing could be a mistake that creates an awkward situation.
Not on the Lips!
You kiss your husband or wife on the lips. A peck on the lips may even be common between members of your family. Yet a social kiss on the lips with an associate or acquaintance may be a definite faux pas. Even in cultures where the kiss serves as “hello,” kissing on the lips is seldom considered the standard.
Kiss Me at…the Office?
While kissing on your own time may be the norm, kissing on the job is usually a no-no. This can be a particularly confusing affair if you’re conducting international business. If you’re meeting with associates you may suspect to be kissers, offering a handshake is always a safe way to keep everyone happy.
If you are the kissing kind, make sure to take into consideration that your associate or client may not be. While a greeting kiss may become more acceptable after a long-term relationship has been established, a smooch to soon may be a huge turn off and a way to lose associates.
To Kiss or Not to Kiss
Social kissing is a situation in which a conservative approach may best serve everyone. A few simple rules to remember may help you avoid that awkward moment everybody fears—don’t kiss on the lips, don’t kiss unsuspecting clients or coworkers, and keep in mind the cultural environment you’re in so that you don’t get caught off guard.
Let’s start with the basics. The term ‘RSVP’ stands for réspondez s’il vous plait, which is a French term that roughly translates to “please respond.” In this economy, or any economy really, knowing the correct number of guests to prepare for can be important. Too few hors d’oeuvres and guests can wind up ravenous – too many, and the host has just wasted money.
This brings me to my first point, which may seem a bit obvious: if you RSVP ‘yes’ to a party or event, then show up. It seems like common sense to most people, but lately I’ve noticed a trend of people responding with a ‘yes’ and then not showing or, more commonly, simply not replying to the invitation at all. Perhaps it needs to be stated again, that RSVP means “please respond” – meaning that the host is requesting a response of some sort, even if it’s a ‘no’. It’s perfectly fine to decline an invitation, as it still helps the host as far as planning when it comes to food and refreshments.
Of course, this line of thought also brings me to another point: if the invitation is to you only, it doesn’t mean you should show up with friends. I’ve also noticed that occasionally, people will follow-through on their RSVP of ‘yes’ – but they’ll also bring a guest or five with them. For one, this goes back to the beginning of my post about how, if too many guests show up, the host won’t have enough refreshments and hors d’oeuvres available for everyone. This also creates the possibility of another issue: occasionally, hosts may not invite specific people for specific reasons. Ultimately, it should be the host’s decision as to who attends – and bringing uninvited guests can certainly have a negative impact on that, as well as your relationship with that person.
There you have it – the basics of RSVP etiquette. Here are a few more party tips to consider:
- When hosting a client holiday party, don’t drink alcohol. As the host, it’s your duty to be on top of your game.
- If invited to a private home, be sure to take the host a small gift – wine, candy, or a homemade item are all good ideas.
- Make sure to eat a snack before you go – if you start engaging in conversation, you may not be able to eat until later, which can prompt a late-night fast food run on the way home.
- If you drink anything, make sure to carry it in your left hand – when you offer a handshake, it’s preferable for it not to be a cold one.
- Introduce guests to each other based on hierarchy, naming the higher-ranking person first – this can be by age, sex, client, or company hierarchy.
- Watch what you wear – too casual or too revealing can get you in trouble!
- Don’t let your guard down too much – it’s good to be casual and friendly with other guests, but don’t reveal too much personal info and wake up the next morning with regrets.
Lastly, make sure to thank the host both when you enter AND when you leave.
With the scorching summer winding down and the holidays right around the corner, I find myself with the desire to revisit an area of etiquette we’ve broached on once before: travel etiquette. Recently, I was on a plane and I noticed a few things. Some of these are obvious faux pas; however, some of these I feel are simply being inadvertently overlooked on one’s travels.
- Timeliness and Anger Management – Like anyone or anything else, planes occasionally run late. While unfortunate, these things happen – but getting grouchy or upset solves nothing. Slamming the window shutter closed or sighing in exasperation at the baby crying isn’t helping anything, either. We are all in this plane together, and only for a short time. I promise you, it will all be over soon; make the best of it!
- Arm Rests and Leg Room – With whom does the decision ultimately rest? It’s okay for people to get comfortable, but one should also be considerate; share the arm rests with the middle seat and check to ensure the person behind you is not particularly tall before leaning your seat back.
- Window Seat – Who gets to decide whether the shutter stays open or closed? Must your seatmates in the middle and aisle seats be forced to miss the landing, take-off, or view of the city from above just because you don’t care to see it?
- Babies – Traveling with children can be a challenge for parents, but it’s a challenge for other passengers, as well. Perhaps there should be a way to designate the seats where a baby will end up, so that passengers might have the option to sit elsewhere.
- “Raise your seat backs and tray tables to their upright and locked positions.” Why can’t some people hear this request? No one ever does, it seems! They announce it over the speakers twice, only to have to come by and ask you to do it anyway.
- Cell-Fishness – Tsk, tsk to people on their phones, as well – surely, there is no conversation so important that the rest of the plane needs to hear your half of it. What has happened to privacy?
- Pre-Plane Cocktails – Nervous flyers, I sympathize with you completely. But please, don’t overdo it before boarding the plane – recently, I actually witnessed a passenger be escorted off the plane for rude behavior while intoxicated!
- Departure – Don’t jump up in the aisle to get ahead of people. It really won’t save any significant amount of time, and it can actually hinder the process of everyone else departing the plane.
Basically, what it boils down to is, be considerate of those around you. After all, we’re on the airplane with you, too.
Whew. What a trip! I think that about covers it.Best regards,
We all should read “A Good Talk.” Daniel Menaker said, “conversation should be easy, and not in the least dogmatic; it should have the spice of wit.” Reading this New York Times article, The Life (and Death) of the Party, and Menaker’s book reminds me how afraid I am for the futures of young people that only know how to text or email to talk.
What will they do when they are invited to a dinner party some day? They will be the “death” of the party. As Ronald Reagan said, “all great change in America happens at the dinner table.” So parents, invite your children to have dinner with you at the table and start the change.Best regards,
Our unusually dry, hot summer in Oklahoma has an unusual etiquette topic on my mind: the manners of smokers and their cigarette butts. First, the facts:
- 650,000 butts are dropped in OKC every day.
- Each contains 9-30mg of poisons like ammonia, cadmium (batter acid), nicotine and more.
- Total, 5.5 gallons of poisons are released into our environment every day – and that’s just in the OKC metro.
A single dropped cigarette butt might not seem like much to a smoker, just like one sandbag doesn’t seem to make a difference in a flood or one leaf doesn’t seem to make a difference to a tree. When you start stacking those sandbags, though, they make a huge impact – same for the cigarette butts.
Even more concerning than the long-term environmental dangers are the immediate risk of fire. As dry as the land and grasses are in our state, it’s nothing but irresponsible to toss a cigarette butt out of a car while driving. I can assure each and every smoker who does this that wherever they are going, there’s going to be a trashcan available. At the very least, commit to taking care of your fellow Oklahomans by keeping a receptacle in your vehicle for used cigarettes (like a water bottle or some other small container).
How was I first aware that the way to honor and respect our flag and country was by placing my right hand over my heart during the national anthem? When did it become evident how much this action meant to me?
Was it my grade-school teacher and the Pledge of Allegiance, my job in the U.S. Senate in Washington during the bicentennial, a photo of firefighters hoisting the flag at the World Trade Center remains on 9/11, being lucky enough to have missed the Murrah Building bomb by 15 minutes, was it at the Smithsonian seeing the Star Spangled Banner’s words and flag display in Washington in 2009, or the military folks in my family, friends and in this country that have made the commitment to serve an ultimate sacrifice for our freedom?
Yesterday it was opening my passport to travel and noticing the inside left page has Francis Scott Key standing on a ship, looking at the flag with the words, “O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?” How did I not ever notice this before?
Saluting Old Glory
So, why do some people observe and respect by placing their hands over their hearts and others don’t? Whether it is any sporting event, Rotary club or looking around at the recent basketball playoffs, I have become confused at business people, elected officials, fans as well as ballplayers.
Coach Scott Brooks and Nick Collison place their hands over their hearts. I see a young boy observing, but his 40-year-old father doesn’t. A ball cap comes off the head of a 20-year-old man and one stays on that of a 60 year-old man. Even more confusing to the public, the rules for active and civilian dressed military. There are rules for indoor and outdoor observation of the flag for both groups. Again, as a U.S. citizen, I ask why and why not. Is it laziness, disrespect, awareness or exercising one’s right to “choose” to observe our national symbol of freedom?
Not only was I reared to know, and now as a U.S. and International Protocol consultant, I have been required to read the United States Code for Flag Laws and Regulations. The Code outlines the laws and regulations as to the proper conduct with the flag and seal, seat of Government, official territory papers as well as desecration of the flag and penalties and patriotic and national observances. These laws were supplemented by executive orders and presidential proclamations.
Title 36, Chapter 1, Section 301 of the United States Code says:
National anthem; Star-Spangled Banner, conduct during playing:
During the rendition of the national anthem when the flag is displayed, all present except those in uniform should stand at attention facing the flag and the right hand over the heart. Men not in uniform should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart. Persons in uniform should render the military salute at the first note of the anthem and retain its position until the last note. When the flag is not displayed, those present should face toward the music and act in the same manner they would if the flag were displayed there.
Celebrating Flag Day
Each year on June 14, we celebrate the birthday of the Stars and Stripes, which came into being on June 14, 1777. At that time, the Second Continental Congress authorized a new flag to symbolize the new Nation, the United States of America.
The Stars and Stripes first flew in a Flag Day celebration in Hartford, Connecticut in 1861, during the first summer of the Civil War. The first national observance of Flag Day was June 14, 1877, the centennial of the original flag resolution. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson called for a nationwide observance of Flag Day on June 14. It was not until 1949 that Congress made this day a permanent observance and designated as Flag Day. The measure was signed into law by President Harry Truman.
When I hear the national anthem being played I stand tall and place my hand over my heart for those in the past, present and in the future that deserve my respect, gratitude and loyalty for sacrificing to protect my family, friends and country from harm.
Oh say … I can see Mary Pickersgill sew and deliver the flag one year before the battle of Baltimore in September 1814, Fort McHenry, the entrance to the Baltimore harbor, a 34-year-old lawyer-poet Francis Scott Key with his telescope turned to the fort, the rocket’s red glare and the bombs bursting in air, our flag still there, o’er the land of the free and the home of the BRAVE.
A response from Cpt. Ray White Jr., U.S. Army (Ret.), Oklahoma City:
I wish to congratulate Hilarie Blaney for “Say, can you see why some don’t salute flag?” (Etiquette To Go, June 11). This was a fine piece, but I would like to point out an omission. The 2009 National Defense Authorization Act says veterans, retirees and active duty military members not in uniform should render a military-style hand salute during the playing of the national anthem and during the raising, lowering or passing of the flag. The military salute is a unique gesture of respect that marks those who have served in our nation’s armed forces.
Nationwide unemployment is sitting above 9%, and while Oklahoma City’s unemployment rate is just 4.5%, plenty among us are job searching or seeking career changes. It means that the job market here is not just competitive, it’s tight. While you update your resume, consider that the impression you leave on your potential employer after you land the interview is more important than anything else.
Businesses are trending towards testing the social skills of prospective employees more than ever. If you find that your interview will be over a meal instead of across a desk, don’t be surprised. So what’s an interviewee to do? Brush up on your basic mix of interview and table manners before you head to that potentially life-changing lunch:
- Follow the lead of your host, or interviewer. (If he or she sits down, that’s your cue to sit down.)
- Never order the most expensive thing on the menu.
- Don’t order anything sloppy – pasta is out.
- Keep your cell phone stowed and on silent – you would not pay attention to it in an office interview, right?
- Your napkin belongs in your lap (never on the table) and should stay there until you leave the restaurant.
- Know how and in what order to use your silverware.
Hopefully the uniqueness of the interview setting will allow you to relax some, but be sure to maintain the professionalism you would have were you sitting across a desk!Best regards,
Think about the phone calls and emails you have received lately. How many of them have started with “Hey” followed by your name, or just “Hey!”? I’d wager that it has been more than just a few, and I wonder when we lost track of the more polite greetings like “hi,” or better, “hello.”
As the use of home phones continues to dwindle and caller ID on cell phones is standard, there is less of a need to identify who has called, making “Hey, do you want to grab lunch?” a perfectly common conversation opener.
I’d suggest a return back to our beloved “hi” and “hello” in your next phone call or email. Slow down and open the conversation without rushing into questions or requests. You might find that you like it!Best regards,
I spotted this brilliant innovation at Upper Crust in Oklahoma City, a local restaurant in Classen Curve. What a great reminder for people that chew gum to lose it before they say another word! Without these little cards, guests would be choosing between retiring to the powder room, swallowing their gum, rolling gum in a paper napkin, or re-living elementary school by sticking it under the table or their chair.
Cheers to Upper Crust for such a fun reminder of good manners. I’d love to see these included in programs at weddings and funerals; a gentle, direct reminder of the manners required for those kind of occasions.Best regards,