This column has been a long time coming.
After more than 10 years of going to various workout facilities across the country, I've seen, heard and experienced almost anything that can happen at a gym.
Overall, my experiences have been positive, but every once in a while I am confronted with a situation or a person that makes me want to hurl a 10-pound weight out a window. In an effort to reduce these moments, I've created a short list of things to avoid doing while at the gym.
A lot of what appears on the list won't apply to most people, but there is a certain portion of the population that doesn't seem to live on the same planet as the rest of us. This is for them.
Some of the rules will be based in common sense, while others will leave you wondering how anyone could be so dumb, inconsiderate and or disgusting. And, before you ask, all of these experiences come from first hand or second-hand accounts.
Upon finishing an exercise, if there is a pool of sweat where your body once was, clean it up. There's nothing like sitting down to do the leg press and feeling a foreign wetness soak through back of your shirt.
Also, when done with a machine that uses free weights, put the free weights back on the rack. Not only does this prevent other people from having to clean up after your laziness, it also shows that the machine is not being used. And if you're leaving the weights there to show the next person how strong you are, don't. No one cares.
Although the gym is a hub for testosterone, leave the cave-man attitude at home. Avoid cursing or talking about the size of your arms or legs or any other part of the human anatomy. You may think you are impressing people, but in reality you are making the people within earshot uncomfortable and showing off an inordinate lack of intelligence. Also, keep the grunting and yelling to a minimum and never, under any circumstances, take off your shirt and then stare at yourself in the mirror. It's not a good idea. It will only make others laugh secretly at you and wish you would get a room with yourself.
After quenching your thirst at a drinking fountain, don't stand in front of it and have a prolonged conversation. Chances are there's someone nearby wanting a drink and wishing your hamstring would cramp up, causing you to fall on the floor in agony and away from the drinking fountain.
Moving away from the workout room itself, the next few rules are some of the most important as they deal with proper locker room etiquette.
Before beginning, I offer a general observation. In a locker room, the likelihood of a person parading around in his or her birthday suit increases with age. Also, the likelihood of two people carrying on a conversation in their birthday suits also increases with age.
This brings me to the first rule of locker room etiquette.
If in your birthday suit, resist the urge to begin a conversation with a stranger. This also applies when the stranger is in his or her birthday suit. Nothing can be gained from such a conversation except extreme awkwardness.
When in an open shower area, choose the shower farthest from the other person showering. Also, do not comment on another person's physique while showering. (Believe it or not, this happened to one of my coworkers. His last name starts with "B" and ends in "ieri").
While using the steam room there are a couple things to remember. Do not shave and try not to spit on the floor. Watch your language in the steam room (see cave-man attitude above). Never stretch or do torso twists because when you do your sweat takes flight, colliding with everyone around you. And last, but certainly not least, if you have long hair, never wet it down and then fling your head back. This will cause others in the steam room to become angry for obvious reasons.
If you find that you are guilty of some or any of the infractions on this list don't panic, there's still time for you to turn it around. And if you do, the entire workout community will be grateful.
(Craig Haupert is a sports writer for The Minot Daily News. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org)