Using the workout room if you don't live there. An ethics question.

My aunt lives in a nearby apartment complex. The complex has a small workout room with a few treadmills, Stairmasters, and some weight machines. It’s an unmanned facility and access is granted through a combination lock. My aunt offered me the combination for the room, after I mentioned I was thinking about joining a gym. Her place is very convenient to my office and it would work out very nicely, logistically.

My question is, since i don’t live there, is it unethical for me to use the equipment? Not that it matters in terms of ethics, but I would be going quite early in the morning, when I suspect the room is not heavily used, so I probably wouldn’t be preventing any residents from using the equipment.

I’d be careful. I don’t think the management would approve, and it is private property, so I would have to say it’s unethical. It might even be prosecutable as trespassing. It also puts wear on the equipment, by the way, so not impeding use by others is not the only issue.

I have to think that you’d end up having to answer embarrassing questions sooner or later anyway.

As purely ethical violations go, it would be pretty mild. It’s not like running a meth lab or killing somebody, but I still don’t think it would end well, and the possibility of having to talk to the cops wouldn’t be out of the question. I’d avoid it unless your aunt will be in the room with you every time (and if the management allows her to bring in guests for the use of the room).

I’d say yes*. The complex assumes that not everyone will use the room, yet they still charge everyone a few dollars worth of rent for it. At worst, I think you’d be asked to stop using it and your aunt would get a slap on the wrist.

Also, there’d be a big liability issue if you’d get hurt on one of the machines, since you didn’t sign any waivers and you weren’t supposed to be there to begin with. Chances are, any medical costs you incurred would be passed on to your aunt. Ditto for any physical damage that may happen if you break something.

*It would be slightly less un-ethical if people who wanted to use it had to pay a monthly fee or deposit to use it (that you covered).

It’s definitely unethical; as Dio mentions, there is an upkeep cost for workout equipment and you’re not paying it. It’s unlikely that you’d run into any problems, since residents would just assume you recently move in, and any management would just assume they don’t recognize you, and if they did ask, you could just say you were living with your aunt.

However, you do risk tresspassing charges if you get caught and, depending on what’s in your Aunt’s lease, you could get her charged extra money or possibly even kicked out of her apartment. IMO, it’s not worth it, especially since you ought to be able to find a gym that’s roughly as convenient and, for the fee, would provide many more options for equipment.

Is there any way you couldn’t just work out a deal with your Aunt to perhaps work out together as her guest to avoid these sorts of complications? You’d get the added benefit of having a partner to work out with.

While I agree with the sentiments in the replies so far, I would say that specific to the point about upkeep cost, my aunt is 76 and does not use the room. A small portion of her rent goes to the upkeep and she never uses it. Not that it becomes transferable to me, but she’s paying for the portion of upkeep that I’d be using.

As your regular gym, yeah I’d say that’s not what the room is for. If every resident gave out the combo to anyone they wanted to do a favor for, then you’ve got a whole bunch of strangers with access to an unstaffed common room. Not a good situation, at least not in my world.

But you could always just go down to the office and ask. They might offer you a fee-for-use arrangement. Or it might be full-service community that does have some generous ‘one guest at a time’ policy. Actually my parent’s retirement community has fairly generous guest policies for sports facilities, they know people want to have their kids and grandkids come visit.

Her paying for it and not using it is why they only charge each resident a small amount instead of charging just the ones that want to use it a larger amount. They count on only a small percentage of residents actually using it on any kind of a regular basis.

Unethical. Using the provided facilities is a perk of living there and paying rent. If they have a guest policy and she was with you every time that would be different.

I say it’s unethical. Not that I haven’t done something similar. I used to use the pool at an apartment complex near my house. There was no code or key required or anything like that.

So, it seems pretty straightforwardly (?) unethical. Not sure if I’ll do it or not yet, but it’s good to get a majority opinion! :smiley:

Do you have any extra space where you live? I’ve seen a lot of people give away exercise equipment for free on Craigslist, or sell it very cheap. People get the stuff and never use it.

I wish. If I had room for a treadmill I’d buy one. That’s pretty much all I’m interested in at this point. We just don’t have any place for it.

If all you want to do is run, can’t you do that outside?

I’m looking at 5:30 in the morning, before work, and it’s very cold and pitch black out.

I see, understandable. But, lots of people run in the dark and cold (myself included) and it could be a good experience. I LOVE winter running, especially when it’s cool, dark or snowing.

Maybe… but I’m getting back into exercising after a lot of idle time. Additionally, no sidewalks and very rural where I am. No streetlights. I can’t see that lasting any length of time.

Ethical or not, I think it’s pretty harmless in the greater scheme of things. As long as you don’t displace anyone else, are respectful, I really don’t see the harm.

And before you jump all over me, let me ask you a question. If she was in the building regularly caregiving for the aging Auntie, would you object? What if working out kept her from injury while caregiving, helped relieve the stress? What if she stayed at the Auntie’s a couple of times a week? Would it be okay then? It’s one woman using the facilities at 5:30 in the morning, I doubt anyone really cares, in reality.

I say go for it.

It is unethical. I am a person who uses the workout room at my apartment complex. The apartment complex workout room isn’t a huge gym with plenty of machines. If you’re using cardio equipment, you’re going to tie up that machine for quite a while. There often isn’t another one of its type to use.

Also, the early morning crowd tends to know each other. If you’re going to be there on a regular basis, we’ll probably talk. If I find out you don’t live there, I’m going to be pissed and probably call security. Even if you tell me you live there, I’ll probably catch on eventually.

I disagree entirely. There are no overriding ethics here, so all that matter is how the lease is set up. If it’s set up where use of the room is non-transferable, or the aunt was otherwise told this, then it is immoral in that it is violating the contract. But even then, it would be your aunt violating it, not you, since you have no contract.

The wear and tear is built in to the cost, and they are already getting the money for that. As long as you don’t displace someone else, I really can’t see anything wrong with it. The fact that other people would get upset, while a real concern, has more to do with their sense of entitlement and inhospitality than your ethics. You aren’t actually hurting them–they just feel entitled to hurt you.

But, the wear and tear is built into the cost, knowing that not everyone will use the equipment. That’s why they can add (making up numbers) $5/month to everyone’s rent instead of $50/month just to those who choose to use it. Guests using the equipment will increase repair and maintenance costs which will eventually cause an increase in everyone’s rent.