Toxic Fitness Culture: 10 Negative Behaviors as a Client

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Toxic Fitness Culture: 10 Negative Behaviors as a Client

Don’t be that person. Previously we explored toxic fitness culture as an instructor and manager, but the clients need to take ownership of their part. Be honest with yourself, how is your bad behavior contributing to the toxic environment? Here are 10 things to look out for.

Hygiene Issues

Wearing excessive cologne and perfume to the gym

Did you know that when you sweat, the smell of these scents are amplified? This can be suffocating to many of the other patrons, and it is not flattering at all. Ditch the sprayed on scents, especially first thing in the morning.

Wearing stinky clothes

Remember in gym class you had to wear a uniform and sometimes it went unwashed for months? This is the same thing, but guess what we are too old for that. A whiff of grotesque smelling clothing has taken me out numerous times. No one wants to be around that. Change your outfit, please.

Disrespecting equipment

Unless the facility established that they clean up after you; please return everything to its place. I hate when I am at the gym, and someone leaves numerous 45 pound plates on a leg press. It is not the next persons’ job to clean up after you. If you can lift it, you should be able to put it back.

In addition, don’t steal the equipment. I get that fitness equipment is expensive, but that is why you have a membership. To use it. Stealing equipment raises the prices for everyone or results in fewer materials for everyone.

Overly Competitive

It’s cool to set some friendly goals to hit in class with people you are familiar with but don’t ostracize people for not working to the level you think they should be. You never know why someone is taking a class or in the gym. It could be their first time back after an injury,they could be working out for the first time in a while, or just having an overall bad day. You never know what people are going through, so keep the competitiveness to yourself.

Did you know 55% of women avoid the gym due to fear of judgment? I can’t tell you enough how intimidating the fitness environment can be for newcomers, especially in areas where fitness is popular. Think of your first time taking a class or going to the gym. You probably were insecure or nervous. Imagine that some unfriendly person came up to you and gave you a hard time? Would you return?

Finally, being overly competitive with yourself. Ask yourself why you are showing up to the gym or fitness class in the first place. Is your motivation reliant on the attention of instructors and praise from fellow members? What happens when those don’t exist anymore? Do not pressure yourself to perform a certain way just because of someone else’s view of you. Wellness is a personal journey.

Not following instructions in class

Doing Your Own Thing

As an instructor, I cannot tell you how irritating it is to put the time into creating a class only to have that one person do their own thing. It is one thing to do a modification for a personal issue, but completely deviating from instruction is rude. It also distracts the other participants. Why even pay to take the class in the first place? If you think you know better than the instructor, then why not teach your own class?

Talking During a Class

Talking during class is highly distracting to others and the instructor. It shows that you do not respect a persons’ class enough to give them your undivided attention. You are not that important that you cannot be silent and pay attention.

Bringing your phone to class or being on your phone in the middle of a session

There are exceptions to this rule, like if you’re a physician on call, but this is generally disrespectful. Imagine making a presentation at work and your audience is sitting there texting while you’re speaking. This is the same scenario. I am sure that text can wait 45 minutes until class is over.

Leaving in the middle of class

Again, there are exceptions to this rule, but generally, it isn’t polite. If you know you have to leave during the class, consider sitting in the back or not even coming. Let the instructor know as a courtesy if you must leave early.

Body shaming

Weight discrimination can occur in over or underweight individuals. I get that fitness is about being healthy, but body shaming others at the gym/class is hypocritical. The point of attending a fitness class or gym is to improve yourself, and it’s not a one size fits all approach. People who attend classes or a gym are taking action, which is more than what many are doing.

There is evidence that weight discrimination in the fitness space can cause people to retreat back to the undesirable behaviors they were trying to fix. This includes abandoning physical activity altogether. Making a change is a brave and scary step for anyone. We should commend people for taking the step to improve their health, not drive them away.

Badmouthing instructors and trainers

When a new client comes to a class, let them decide who is right for them. It’s fine to make recommendations for people you like, but it’s best to keep those you did not like to yourself. Everyone has a different style that suits their interest, and they may vibe with someone you didn’t click with. That is ok. Let people decide for themselves before telling them an instructor is bad. You are doing a disservice to that instructor or trainer who is building their base.

Acting like you own the place

Just because you went to a facility when it first opened doesn’t mean you own it. Unless you’re an investor, you’re just like everyone else. The rules of the facility still apply to you, regardless of how long you’ve been there. I know we all get possessive about our spots in a class or areas in the gym. If a new person happens to take that spot, don’t give them a hard time.

I am sure that the facility/gym is grateful for you being a long time or high paying client, but this doesn’t mean they owe you everything. They owe you a great fitness experience, and that is it.

Creating a hostile environment for others

This can take on many forms. I’ve seen areas where mean girl/guy behaviors can take over a positive gym environment. Just because you might not like or get along with another member, does not mean you have to turn everyone else against them. This goes along with the jealousy of others. Bullying and gossip have no place in the wellness space.

This is not middle school. If you have insecurities you need to deal with, don’t take it out on other members. Deal with your issues separately with a professional. People turn to fitness to help with these same issues, so don’t turn their safe haven into hell.

Fitness should be a community where everyone can come and be themselves. It is all of our responsibility to uphold the wellness spaces’ positive attributes and dismiss the bad behavior. What can you do to be a better fitness advocate today?

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