A Solution to Gym Creeps

Even though the schedule on my gym’s door says it opens at 5 am, I appreciate that the staff member with the key always arrives early and lets us in. An extra five or ten minutes on a busy workday makes a difference, and I get some additional gym time before the 6 am crowd appears.

I’m frequently second in line when the guy with the key arrives. Ordinarily, the person in front of me is a mentally disturbed middle-aged man who wears a blue facemask. When he gets to the gym floor, this guy starts shouting at no one about conspiracy theories of the day. More destructively, he pulls 45-pound weight plates off machines (that last night’s user should have re-racked) and throws them through the air. His membership ought to be revoked.

My gym also suffers from the more mundane rule and etiquette violations, particularly around returning dumbbells to the rack. Posted signs do nothing to stop dumbbells from disappearing into every nook and cranny of the gym. You also have to watch your step to avoid tripping over weights left everywhere.

One new phenomenon on TikTok is women at the gym filming creepy men in their vicinity. Some of this is staged or oversensitive. However, my own 18-year-old daughter tells me about legitimately inappropriate behavior at the gym related to one particular man.

As we enter a new era of declining civility — at airports, restaurants, health clubs — I’ve pondered how to enforce manners at the gym. Posted warnings do nothing. Complaining to the front desk also won’t work: It’s unfair and ineffective to make a low-wage, part-time employee confront gorillas. I imagine that exorbitant, high-end gyms get less nonsense from members, but you’re paying 500% more per year because the locker room includes free aftershave.

An idea occurred to me at my recent condo association meeting when we were discussing security. At condominiums, 24-hour physical security is expensive and guards can’t be everywhere at once. Cameras however, can. There are security services that have trained professionals at remote locations watching 30 screens at once, like at a casino, that fully cover your complex.

You could do the same thing at a gym — maybe this is even a business concept. A third party would use cameras to monitor what is happening on the gym floor, and members can report rule violations electronically — through email or a website form, giving the time and general area. Because members scan their ID codes to enter the gym, this company could easily put a name with a face, and take action. You get one warning via email or through your gym app. On your second violation your membership bar code is deactivated.

Good riddance.

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