The standard for gym comfortability is a radius of 10 feet. With more and more people joining the gym, certain behavioral standards are more important than ever.
Be the example
Most would agree that the rules of civility are on the decline. Questionable behavior is popping up everywhere – including the gym. Here the second golden rule, be the change you would like to see in the world, will go a long way toward making the gym world a better place. Respect personal space as well as ear space.
Determining the right distance
Individual and cultural differences drive wide diversity in the need for personal space. Relationships can also impact space considerations. When you aren’t sure, a good rule of thumb is to observe the greatest allowable distance. That distance is just out of arms reach. From here, you are close enough to feel connected as well as pick up any facial or body clues that suggest discomfort. Signs of discomfort might include closing in on oneself or panic (folding arms, slumping shoulders, slinking and darting eyes).
Cut out the guess work
Sometimes clues just aren’t immediately obvious. If you are comfortable doing so and it seems appropriate, you might try just asking, “is this distance ok?”
Keep your distance
If you are not engaged with your fellow gym participant, i.e. training or talking together, maintain at least two arms-length distance. If you must breech this boundary try to establish eye-contact first. Offer a smile and pay attention to the response. If it isn’t possible to make contact or get a response, enter and leave the space as quickly as you can. Invading personal space is often very chancy and can be interpreted as threatening.
Ear space matters, too
If you use your phone at the gym, don’t forget your headphones. Just because you love your playlist doesn’t mean everyone else will too. Likewise, if you need to say something that can’t wait until you leave the gym, send a text. Your conversation is only important to you. Keep your phone and all alerts on silent, so as not to disturb your fellow gym goers.
The final space frontier…
Finally, take care with your personal belongings. Limit what you bring to the gym. Extra stuff just takes up too much real estate and could be a tripping hazard.
When you aren’t sure, just go back to the second golden rule. Model the way to be respectful of others and their space at the gym so others take notice and follow your lead.