Grr! Gym rant. Too lame for the Pit. Dopers familiar with gym etiquette, please help.

The apartment complex I’ve lived in for about 1.5 years has a couple of nice little gyms in it. I had used them all of two or three times, then yesterday I went to my girlfriend’s gym, one of those fancy Magic Johnson 24 Hour Fitness deals. It was fantastic. I used all the machines she used, she showed me how to use them and I had a great time and really felt like I was doing something good for myself. So good that today I decided to give my gym another crack today.

Well, my knees felt a little sore so I figured I’d work my upper body. The only machines I’ve successfully used at my gym are the exercise bikes, treadmills, etc. I sat down at some kind of pec machine and carefully read the instructions: Adjust the seat until this body part is parallel with that body part and perpendicular to the floor and this body part at a 45-degree angle against the demilitarized parallel of North Korea. After consulting a map of Southeast Asia, I figured out what I was supposed to do, and read on to find something like this (paraphrased):

“Pull out the pop-pin [or whatever it was] and manually pull or push the seat to its desired configuration.”

Pop-pin? OK, pop-pin. Pop-pin…looking for a pop-pin. Nothing here. Nothing there. OK, here’s this thingy-dingy sticking out of something here, and it doesn’t look like anything I would call a “pop-pin” but it has a little wheely thing that screws on to the other thing. I’ll unscrew that and then adjust the seat. I unscrew it, and, nope, the seat’s not going anywhere.

OK, whatever, I’ll hit the stationary bike. So I do, for about 15 minutes, burn 70 calories or so, OK, I accomplished something instead of standing around looking like an idiot, so I’ll try to figure out another machine.

I arrive at some kind of bicep hand curl thing. It’s got a whole bunch of directions about North Korea again, and I look at the machine and figure there was no way I was going to figure out how to adjust it, and it basically looks close enough, so what the hell, I’ll just sit down and pop out ten reps. So I do. I end up with some sore elbows. I re-read the instructions and realize that my shoulders and elbows were supposed to be on a straight line parallel to the floor–as opposed to the 45 degree line running from my elbows to my shoulders. Not good. OK, let’s see if we can figure this one out.

“To adjust the seat, lean backwards, pull your legs off the floor and pull the handle up. This will release the seat lock. Use your body weight to lower the seat.”

What? OK, whatever. I lean backwards, pull my feet up off the floor, and pull up on the handle. Then I sit up, sit down, stand up, sit back down, any possible thing I could do to “use my body weight to lower the seat”. Nothing happens. There’s another screw-on wheel thing, so I try to adjust that, but that doesn’t budge. Agh. Whatever. I storm out of the gym in a huff, and now I’m back to watching TV and doing the occasional sit-up.

I’ve thought of going up to some other gym patron and asking them to help me adjust the machine, but I can never work up the nerve to pull someone out of their exercise routine to help me with mine. I have no idea what the etiquette of this situation is. But I do know that I’m pissed off, my shoulders and elbows are sore and I feel like a failure. Plus I’ve lost my map of Southeast Asia. Bastards.

If I were at the gym and someone asked me how to use a machine, I’d gladly help. If you see a friendly looking person, ask them. If he/she turns out to be a dick, ignore them and try someone else.

Yeah, I guess, but it seems like people are always across the room on some other machine or ball or weight or something, doing a completely unrelated routine while jamming out on their music. I don’t know, I just can’t work up the nerve to pull them out of what they’re doing across from the gym to help me out with my stuff.

Sounds like you spend too much time reading directions. Just find the Schwarzanegger (sp?) types in the gym and do whatever they’re doing.

Does this gym not have staff? Part of their job is showing people how to use the equipment properly. But yeah, any decent person should be happy to show you how to use the machines, just don’t bother them in the middle of a set.

And I want to know what magical gym this is where people are way on the other side of the room. Every gym I’ve experienced is packed, with waiting lists for the cardio equipment.

I usually “hover” around a piece of equipment and watch someone use it.

Hope they’re using it correctly! :stuck_out_tongue:

Nope. The gyms are small, and free for anyone who has access to the complex (employees and residents).

Again, this is a free gym for residents. It’s nothing special, and there usually aren’t that many people working out; when I went there right before I made the OP, there were two people.

Again, not enough people. I don’t want to look like a creep watching people exercise, anyway. And I’m not as concerned with how to use it as I am with how to adjust it, anyway.

That’s the thing. Everyone seems to always be in the middle of a set.

Now here’s where I earn my money back.

First, most weight machines I’ve encountered arent nearly as complicated as you make it sound. Usually, just sit you arse down and start swinging. Minimal adjustments are needed, unless you yourself are Magic Johnston and the last person on the machine was Kylie Minogue. What worked for the last guy will work for you, if you are around the same size. The Push-pin you refer to sounds like it’s just the pin on the weight stack, to select whatever weight you want. You are familiar with the term Musclehead? Most jocks arent that smart. Complicated machines hurt our brains, so they make 'em simple. If your still stuck hit the free weights, which you should do anyway if you are a real man. Machines are for women and other such invalids. :stuck_out_tongue:

Second, there should definatley be someone working there that will be able to help. Staff are there for this kind of thing, or if you need a spotter or such like. Their getting paid to help, so you shouldnt be shy about aking them. This one guy in our gym, hell he’s over to you the minute you go near a machine or treadmill. Need any help? Buddy, I’ve been coming here for three years! Christ in a blimp!

Thirdly, and i really mean this, you should absolutley ask other gym patrons, especialy the muscleheads. Theres nothing more I enjoy than helping out a newbie, partially because i get to wax about something I love. And partially because I have very little else of interest to talk about. But mostly we just love to help, and teach. See, every lunk you see in the gym is doing things HIS way. And every lunk you see believes HIS way is THE way. You might find at times, we’ll come up to you and say, “Hey buddy? Bit of advice…”. And you should never read the free weight instructions they put on hte wall. Those things’ll kill you.

So, to close, if you need help, just ask. Although, see the guy on his last rep, with the veins bursting out of him, spitting through clenched teeth as his buddy wills him on in a bizzarre homo-erotic ritual? Be best to wait till he’s finished. But that guy at the water cooler? Perfect.

Most of the equipment at my gym has pictures along with the instructions, I wonder why yours doesn’t. Then again, our maps are Mexican.
I think the pop-pin is a round knob on either side under the seat, and if you pull it out, the seat back should slide backwards or forwards and you can adjust it so your knees are at the edge of the seat. This is pretty much for leg machines.
If you can get the brand name of the equipment, you can look up the instructions (with pictures?) on the internet, or you can ask for help.

I’m not Magic (and BTW this wasn’t at Magic’s gym–Magic’s was the one I had the positive experience at), but apparently the person who was last on it was Kylie. Both machines I sat down at were configured for someone much smaller; the first one, I felt like my shoulders was already half out of their sockets before I started, and on the second one my elbows were at a 45-degree angle with my shoulders, which I would say is at a stark contrast to the straight line they’re supposed to be on.

I thought of that too, but that doesn’t make any sense. Why would that adjust the seat? I guess I’ll try it next time, though.

As I’ve noted a couple of times, the gyms don’t have any employees. They’re small, free gyms with no frills of any kind.

That’s the thing! Everyone seems to be in the middle of a set. People seem to go down there, pump out their sets, and go back to their apartment. It’s not like a gym in the middle of a shopping center where people have invested drive-time to get there and lounge around or something. People live here; they walk down to the gym, do their sets, then walk back up to their apts.

There are pictures demonstrating how to actually do the exercises, but not how to adjust the damn seats.

The pop-pin you describe doesn’t sound like anything on the machines I tried, which BTW were all upper-body machines.

Great idea! I’ll have to try that if I can’t figure it out the next time I go.

No no no a thousand times no! What terrible advice!

The muscleheads in there are probably doing a workout that’s way too advanced for a newbie. If you feel you don’t know enough, you might want to check out a few books, like maybe Fitness for Dummies.

I would just ask the next person you see using the machine. This would not violate gym etiquette; most folks would be glad to help.

Consider this, most people exercising don’t give a thought to what they look like expression wise when working out. So I suspect everyone in your gym looks kinda grumpy or otherwise occupied, because that’s what I look like in the gym.

My money is on the next person you ask being really helpful, especially considering they are you neighbors as well.

If they don’t, moon them and never go back. :smiley:

I actually went down with a neighbor a few hours ago and got her to show me how to use (and adjust!) all the machines. Hooray!