Phones in the Gym

Planet Fitness made quite a splash this past week when they kicked a woman out of their gym — banned FOREVER — because, after several warnings, she still talked on her mobile phone whenever and wherever she wanted. This despite the fact that the gym posts signs everywhere informing members of the ban AND that there was a designated area where phone calls could take place.

Did Generation Rude strike again or did Planet Fitness over-react?

This whole topic came up when I came across a discussion about it on Facebook with Heather Frey of SmashFit and her friends. There seemed to be two camps.

One side thought that unless you are expecting a VERY important phone call, don’t answer your phone in the gym. If such a call does come in, pause your workout and move to a quieter part of the gym. The other side felt it was okay to answer your phone, IF you kept it brief, especially if you run a business while on the go and you’ve got to take a call or two now and then.

I have to say I’m in the first camp. I actually prefer no phones at all on the gym floor (in my case, my Pilates studio). We request clients keep their phones in the waiting area; that said, I’ve got a much smaller space than a gym and we can hear phones ringing all the time in people’s purses. My clients, though, don’t get up to check unless they are expecting an important call and then they duck into the hallway to take it. That’s just being polite as far as I’m concerned.

Safety of Phones in the Gym

There are a couple of legitimate issues here. Although I haven’t seen studies (I searched), it’s likely that you’d pay about as much attention to a workout when on the phone as you would while driving and talking on the phone. In other words, you’ll be distracted, and one misstep on a treadmill or dropped weight on a foot hurts like heck. (Even worse, what if you drop it on someone else?)

The other major issue at play are cameras on smart phones. Yes, there are losers who will record video or snap a pic of  you. Having a camera on the floor, or God forbid in the locker room, could mean candids on the internet without your knowledge. If you dare, Google “naked gym locker room” and see what you get. Made me shudder.

My Pilates studio used to be in a gym that banned all cell phone use on the premises just for this reason. For several members, who used their phones as a music player, they had to bring an additional electronic device or none at all to work out. Most didn’t appreciate this rule until the reason why was explained and then they understood even if they still grumbled a bit.

Phones in Public and Rudeness

I think all of this just comes down to common courtesy. No one wants to hear about the intimate details of your life. People go to the gym to exercise and that’s it. If you really must take a call, step out and keep your conversation private. Do you want some random stranger knowing your weekend plans or the details of some business deal anyway?

That’s what I think … but how about you? Maybe you’re in the second camp … that it’s okay to grab a call if it’s brief. The world is changing these days, so sometimes you just gotta pick up. Thoughts?