The Gym Sin I’m Most Guilty Of

by Charlotte on February 23, 2012 · 23 comments

No I don’t think I’m guilty of this one. Or, at least, I’m no more guilty of it than all the other girls who wear leggings or yoga pants to the gym. Although feel free to disillusion me in the comments.

So many sins, so little time, really… No, really. It’s 11:30 at night and one of my new (as in: old) goals is to be in bed by 10:30. Anyhow, I’m sure the people at my gym could come up with a laundry list of annoying things I do: leave little scraps of paper with cryptic workouts scribbled on them all over, gossip, talk too loud, hang out too long on the stretching mats without actually stretching (of course they don’t have actual mats anymore either so there’s that), smell overwhelmingly like bacon and burst into tears at inconvenient times are just a few that come immediately to mind. But the one I’m guilty of – and I know it – quite often is the Cardinal Sin of Circuit Training.

Commandment #15 of the Weight Floor: Thou shalt not monopolize all the equipment in the area just because you are “circuit training”. Unless you bought it, it is not yours. Also, thou shalt not leave said equipment scattered everywhere when you are done with it.

Um, oops.

Just yesterday I stood huffily behind a man on the cable machine – because our gym has the bad luck of having the only chin-up bar on the cable machine – breathing loudly because he interrupted my P90X 2 circuit I’d set up. The louder I huffed, the slower he moved. At last I realized that I was That Girl. The super annoying one. Chagrined, I put the bar on the Smith machine on the highest rung and used that to do my “crunchy lever pull-up”. (Gonna be honest here: While I’m not loving all the “creative” moves in P90X 2, this one is pretty fun. I dig it.)

It’s easy to commit this particular sin, particularly if you’re not big into rests between sets like me. You’ve got your thing going, your sweat pouring and your list taped to the mirror (just me?) and then somebody has to take the only set of 20-lb dumbbells to do 50 superslooooow reps? And yet, it’s true: everyone pays the same gym dues. Even slow people. So it’s everyone’s equipment.

This was on my mind when Shape assigned me to write about circuit training. I wrote the article 7 Benefits of Circuit Training. But it felt a little dishonest. And so I fixed it to 7 Benefits of Circuit Training (and One Downside!). Ahh. Jiminy Cricket can go back to hominy cricket now, thanks.

And then of course I had to share my fool-proof method for How to Build The Perfect Circuit Workout (No Mr. T necessary although if he’s available it makes it 10 times awesomer.)

Don’t want to mess with equipment? (Or did some rude person take it all for their circuit??) Here’s my slideshow on 7 Reasons You Don’t Need Equipment To Get in Shape. Yes you can get the workout of a lifetime just with your own body weight!

Last up was my interview with Freddy Light, one of the founders of It was surreal. Check it out: Why You Should Try Bodyrock.TV

Occasionally I cover nutrition for them too (I’ll wait until you stop laughing…) so this week it was 5 Simple Tricks to Eat Less. But let me reaffirm that these are really not about “tricking” your body into doing something it doesn’t want to do but rather helping you be more aware of your satiety signals… by using tricky dinnerware. I still think you should eat when you’re hungry and eat until you are full.

I also wrote a crap ton of parenting stuff this week too but it’s reaallly late now and I’m too tired to look it all up and link it (because of the way Redbook’s site is, I have to look up the title in their system and then use a Bing site search to find it from the outside. It takes forever.)

So now I need to know: what is the gym sin you commit most often? Anyone else an equipment diva?? Anyone have the secret to going to bed on time?!

{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

radioactivegan February 23, 2012 at 11:53 pm

I’d have to say my biggest gym sin is not going … ever. but I don’t belong to one, so if I did go they’d be all “who are you?”


Shayna February 24, 2012 at 12:49 am

I do the same thing as you. There’s this old dude that does back day on the same day as me NO MATTER WHAT DAY I PICK! And he’s SLOW. Yep, I’m all-cap-yelling. I just wanna shake the crap outta him, but he has the same right to the equipment as me, so I stand by the wall and sigh loudly and fiddle with my workout post-it (I stick it to my sports bra, not a mirror :) ).


Melissa February 24, 2012 at 3:57 am

I usually try to stay away from circuits because I feel self-conscious about taking equipment , thought sometimes it depends on the busyness. I was doing great this summer exercising, but since we move it’s been harder. (Basically no sunlight in Dec and Jan did not help). On another note, my work is starting a health program and training some people to help everyone with health goals. One of our new health mentors has your name. It amused me to no end when they sent out that list.


Crumpled Moments February 24, 2012 at 4:11 am

My biggest gym sin is singing out-loud. I’ve never been to a karaoke bar, but let a favorite song come up on my Ipod and I will unconsciously start to sing out-loud. The strange looks from fellow gym-goers let me know when I’m doing it.


Cort The Sport February 24, 2012 at 4:53 am

My gym sin would just be subjecting fellow gym-goers to my facial contortions especially when cranking out that last tough rep!! I’ve mastered the art of standing by the mirror but not actually seeing myself so as not to be horrified.

The keys to going to bed early: (1) a good book and (2) realizing it’s my only chance for peace and quiet. My kids are awesome but they talk my ear off nonstop. Plus good sleep is essential for that good early morning workout. Every night when I go to bed I am just so happy and thankful to be in bed!! It’s the day’s reward!


Melissa February 24, 2012 at 6:57 am

I recently sprained my ankle really badly and couldn’t walk for a few weeks. So I’d sit on a weight bench with all the weights I needed sitting on the floor around me, so I didn’t have to get up mid-workout. I felt really bad about hogging 6 or 8 different weights AND a bench, but then again…everyone could see that I was on crutches and wearing an aircast, and whenever I saw someone eyeing one of the weights I was hogging, I would tell them to go ahead and use it.


Kathleen February 24, 2012 at 7:10 am

My biggest gym sin seems to be making too much eye contact. It’s interesting how many people act like they’re working out in a bubble amongst dozens of other sweaty people.

Can we talk about crunchy lever for a second? It left me in tears the other day because I can’t get it right. I can do about 3 unassisted pull ups so I know I’m not a total weenie. I thought it might be a center-of-gravity issue. What am I missing? Any tips for executing this one?


Charlotte February 25, 2012 at 4:36 pm

Yeah, it’s a tricky move! For me, I think the key is getting my shins up under the bar first rather than trying to pull up and then bring my legs up. You know, like how you used to do as a kid on the playground? Just kind of jump upside down and then once you’re up there it’s easier to “lever” back and forth. I’m sure you are strong enough since there are a couple of gym buddies that can’t do unassisted pullups yet but can do the crunchy lever since there’s not much up and down motion. Does that make any sense, lol??


Nicole February 24, 2012 at 8:54 am

Hmmm. I don’t really do circuit training outside of fitness classes. And it’s been a while since I’ve been to the gym, so it is hard to remember…But the gym at my University has a big row of mirrors near the weight bench, but only a very skinny (but long) space with the workout benches, and then a tiny sliver of space between the mats with the weight benches and actual equipment/barbell racks. When the weight benches were full, I’d stick myself in the small sliver of space to do my lunges, because I wanted a mirror to make sure I did them right. It meant anyone trying to walk past the weight benches (instead of winding their way through the equipment) had to time it so they walked behind me between lunges…or I’d step on them.


geosomin February 24, 2012 at 9:48 am

I love circuit training. I try and make mini circuits tho – 3 things at a time so I don’t hog things too much, if only for lack of equipment. There are a few equipment hogs at my gym and they drive me nuts, so I try and find circuits with as little added weights as possible, or that I tie them up for a short period of time, using the things I know are always free like mats and balls and medicine balls. People are pretty good at working in sets on the big machines…it’s just the one set of barbells in weights 10-20 Lbs that makes it tricky. Most days I get by :)

As for the sleep thing? Ive got nothing. Until I’m done school I’m a 5-6 hour a night lady despite my best efforts…


Katie February 24, 2012 at 10:24 am

I LOVe circuit training, but this is exaclty why I do it at home. Or I try to do it when there are few people at the gym, and lately that never happens, because I’ve been going late. Which means I eat late. Which means I go to be late. Which would mean I get up late, but doesn’t since I still have to teach so just means I get less sleep.


Amy February 24, 2012 at 11:33 am

Most of my training sessions are circuits right now. I go when it’s relatively empty, so there are usually plenty of sets of weights (I’ve never seen all the 15 or 20 lbs. dumbbells used at the same time, but the benches can be an issue). I usually have 2 sets of dumbbells, one barbell and a bench. I work quickly and re-rack my stuff as soon as I’m done with that particular weight. Next to the bench, I usually set up a mat for plank exercises (leaned up behind the bench when not being used), and also do my jumping jacks, etc.

It sounds like I take a ton of space, but all this is done in about 3×4 feet of room. Sometimes I feel a bit guilty when *all* the benches are taken (not often, but it does happen). I go at around the same time during the week, so most of us there are regulars and we work around each other pretty well, even though we don’t chat. On the weekends, when I bother going, I will usually do the more traditional 3 sets on a machine and move around like that, so I don’t take a bench (although if it’s slow, I’ll snag one).

Sometimes I think it bothers people that I do the circuits with cardio stuff in them by the benches, but again, I don’t take up that much space, and it’s usually just 30 seconds at a time anyway. Plus, they can walk around the bench on the other side.


Greta February 24, 2012 at 11:34 am

Hi Charlotte! Lurker coming out here– I’ve read your blog off and on for a while, love it, but have never commented til now :)

The worst gym sin I commit is staying on the treadmill more than the gym’s allotted 30 minute policy…but it’s incredibly rare, and for a really good reason, I promise. I’m a marathon and ultra runner and I always run outside, no matter what the weather…. I’m the crazy person everyone stares at running in the elements. The only time I surrender and run on the treadmill is when the roads/sidewalks are icy or there’s been a blizzard and the roads haven’t been plowed/packed down (I live in DC, so this isn’t often)…and then I’ll be that person that has to get in her 10-20 miles on the treadmill, and I’ll hit that reset button on the treadmill as many times as I have to to make it happen :P (though I try not to do this when people are actually waiting).


Quix February 24, 2012 at 12:41 pm

My gym has a bunch of workout rooms (for classes, but a lot aren’t used at night) with lots of spare equipment. I will typically make my circuits out of weighted balls, weighted sticks, and the super redundant sets of dumbells they have.

If those are used or it’s busy, I’ll just do 3 sets on each machine with minimal rest and then move on. Endurance + weights = win? :)


Alyssa (Azusmom) February 24, 2012 at 3:18 pm

This is why I do circuit training at home: I don’t like to share!!!!!!
The only other option is joining one of those 24-hour gyms and working out at 4 AM. Which, OK, is not REALLY an option.
My secret for getting to bed on time is This: my body shuts down like a vampire at sunrise. I reach a point where I simply cannot stay awake, even if I want to. My eyes close and I do a face plant onto the nearest surface, which is why I try to be in my bed by 9:30-10:00.
I think this stared a few years after my second child was born: neither was sleeping through the night, and my girl had a lovely habit of waking up at midnight and shrieking for the next 4 hours. My body started shutting off so that I’d have at least 2 or 3 hours of sleep, lol!


Latia February 24, 2012 at 4:46 pm

I dont have any idea about this topic because I’m not going to the gym..Thanks for sharing this kind of post to us..


Cameo February 24, 2012 at 6:37 pm

I totally used to be that girl. I love me some circuit training. On the positive, I went at 5am so there were not too many people there to annoy and I tried to remember to return everything. Now I go to Refine Method and it’s a circuit style class – problem solved! Now my sin is being a sweaty beast. I am fairly certain that people avoid standing next to my station because they have seen me sweat and it scares them.


Jody - Fit at 54 February 24, 2012 at 8:01 pm

Biggest sin – yes, a hog for the stuff I want to use – BUT, I do work out when few are there so I watch & try to offer up what I hogged f I notice they are looking like they want to use it! ;-)

Will have to check out all your other great stuff!


sarah February 24, 2012 at 9:42 pm

I don’t use a gym anymore (I work out at home), but when I did, I would say my biggest gym sin was hogging equipment as well.

I’m not digging the creative moves in P90X2 in general (some of them seem just plain wrong and unsafe), but I agree – the crunch lever is pretty cool. It doesn’t work very well with my pullup bar at home, but I imagine it would be really fun with a proper chinup bar.


Charlotte February 25, 2012 at 4:37 pm

YES. We aren’t digging a lot of the creative moves either. Especially all the push-up type stuff on the exercise balls. It’s like you either have to nail it or get injured. A little frightening actually. We just started Phase II and it’s even worse now!


Abby February 26, 2012 at 6:54 pm

Ack I thought it was just me!. I feel so unsafe sometimes especially with sweaty hands and bouncing pushup things on the exercise ball… evne with Tony’s reassurance to just wipe my hands on a towel like that will make it all better. Not to mention my arms totally giving out and smacking my face on the ball.. more than once… more than twice actually..


Casey Kay February 24, 2012 at 11:39 pm

I don’t go to the gym, but when I used to I was probably most often the person getting in someone else’s way for their circuit. I have the knack for getting in the way.

About getting to bed on time, that requires not having to take care of other people’s needs before you get to your own stuff. Unfortunately, it’s nearly impossible even under the best conditions.


jane e February 25, 2012 at 1:57 pm

No gym for me, we meet early 5 days a week at 6:45 am for a 45 minute video workout at a church. We use kettlebells or bands for the weight days or cardio and stretch.. we’re.just a few friends who are committed to “being there” no cost, no pressure, no waiting, it’s be there on time or miss out. This past year I went through chemo and they were my support group!

As for getting to bed on early. In my 30′s when the kids were little my husband always said I got my second wind at 10 pm and he never really knew how late I stayed up.After I was 40+ I started walking in the am w/ 2 friends, which totally changed my lifestyle. I started going to bed “on time” to wake up with the birds. Big plus was that my husband and I are on the same schedule so he loves my warm body in bed on cold winter nights, honestly I love it too! We get up at 6:00 am everyday and I can’t imagine going back to my 40+ years of wanting to sleep in and stay up late. I get more done by 9:00am than some people get done all day.

Love your blog, I’m new to it, but old to being a fitness freak.


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