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Imagine the scene: you arrive at your gym late to find someone else has taken your place for Body Pump. You change anyway and strap yourself into a rower – which doesn’t work. You settle on a bike, glistening with the previous user’s sweat, then queue for a treadmill while listening to a soundtrack of animal grunts and trying not to look at a girl wearing hotpants when she really shouldn’t. Fun?

Search the news for ‘gym rage’ and a cluster of stories emerge. A mother and daughter duo were banned for life from David Lloyd following a cat fight in an aerobics class over an air-conditioning fan, and in 2007, a 45-year-old-stockbroker was charged for assault after he tipped a 49-year-old senior investment banker off his stationary bike during a spinning class. The victim had apparently been ‘whooping’ and shouting things like ‘good burn!’. You can see how these things happen.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, when it comes to gym-related pet hates there is a gender split. Women are irritated by other women – too fat, too thin, too much makeup, too few clothes. One respondent takes issue with girls who pretend to work out without even breaking a sweat: ‘I’m there to get red, sweaty and disgusting, and I expect others to do so too.’

Men, on the other hand, just don’t want to wait their turn. In fact, gym equipment ‘hoggers’ were actually the most common source of gym fury among male and female respondents, with ‘grunters’ and ‘lurkers’ also unpopular. And then there are the people who give themselves ‘motivational shouts’. Spraying sweat, pools of sweat, and the gross BO smell of sweat also, understandably, rated highly.

Writing in the Daily Mail, sports psychologist Dr Costas Karageorghis explains that while exercising can make some people feel more chilled out, others find the testosterone makes them feel aggressive. And natural competition just makes things worse. Also creeping into the fitness community is ‘roid rage’, the anger caused by taking large quantities of anabolic steroids, a well-known issue in the world of bodybuilding.

Gym rage can be triggered in the changing room too. There will always be an exhibitionist parading, preening and posing; usually standing very close to you when there is plenty of space elsewhere. Anyone who requires half an hour mirror time, and a small suitcase of equipment, in order to be presentable can be very trying. And don’t even get us started on naked hair drying.

So what can we do? Since we all seem to be, more or less, in agreement with what makes our hot and sweaty hackles rise, why don’t we try to observe the following gym sweatiquette and have happy gym time together?

Weight your turn. Patiently.

If you take a break, sit somewhere else.

Keep to the limit: if the cardio machine says max 20 mins, don’t hog it for longer. 

Take a towel. Use it.

When you’re finished with a piece of equipment, wipe it. 

Replace equipment and re-stack weights (ideally so they are still in order).

Save your socialising for a post-gym smoothie in the cafe.

Try to keep motivational noises in your head.

Words by Samantha Whitaker

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