Cell Phones and Fitness

Meme about cell phone usage at the gym of kermit the frog sipping tea

a meme about people using cellphones at the gym- kermit the frog sipping tea

So many people are stressed out right about now.  Though we have different causes for the stress, one thing we can generally agree upon: a great place to relieve that stress is the gym.

I really should just name this “Top Pet Peeves” or “Don’t Be So Rude” or “Really? You Have your Phone???”, or “You Can’t Stop for Even an Hour??”. Anyway, enough of that mini rant, I am here to speak on cell phones in gyms, exercise classes and, yeah, yoga class.  As a person who works out in the gym, teaches all kinds of exercise classes and teaches a LOT of yoga, I am amazed by the cell phone usage in a place when you are essentially supposed to be improving yourself and relieve stress, through movement and/or socializing with other like-minded people.  Ya know, communicating. Face-to-face.  A lost art.

Admittedly, my mom teaches etiquette professionally and I grew up with her stressing the importance of proper etiquette and being aware of others (constantly!) and that does influence my views on this topic but, I am pretty sure folks who have not grown up with my Mom may agree with my opines.

So, following, you have some observations and opinions from me as a gym junkie, my pet peeves as an instructor and, what is simply, some really good advice from me, an experienced and educated fitness and wellness professional regarding cell phone usage in the gym.

1 – Taking Selfies. 

Wait, LOTS of selfies.  Now, if you peruse my Instagram account (empowerfitchick.  Yeah.  Shameless plugging), you will see a few pics I have taken of myself at the gym.  Am I guilty?  Weeeelll, partially. But I am talking about those folks who are taking selfies on machines that people could use but for your self-induced photo shoot.  Because really if you want to take a ton of selfies of yourself in a corner where you are out of the way, hey, it’s your dime .  Pay for membership to take pics of yourself, not my business. But, um, get out the way. Okay? Thanks.

2- Talking on your phone while you are walking on the treadmill, using the elliptical, cycling, whatever. 

Okay, aside from the fact that folks who do this are unusually loud in their conversations when they do this, this really can get a little dangerous.  (oh, don’t tell me to turn my music up louder if I don’t want to hear.  I am not blowing my eardrums out to drown out your yapping.  Really, should I have to?) Being on any machine has its own levels of risks but when you are deep into a conversation, you are not paying attention as much as you would if you were focused on the workout. If you were my client, I would never allow you to talk on the phone.  There is no way you are working as efficiently as you possibly could.  You are using too much oxygen speaking and not enough to physically move. Get focused.

3 -Cell Phones in Zumba or other cardio classes is not smart. 

If you are waiting for a call, like I said, stuff happens and there are times when you need to be reached, stay in the back or to the sides if you know you will have to exit at any moment.  Being in the front or center and stopping short to check your phone is dangerous to folks around you.  So is weaving your way through the traffic of dancers or folks running or anything else like that.  If you do not have to wait for an incredibly important phone call – leave the phone alone!

4- cell phone usage in YOGA class. A few things here:


1) I can’t even believe I have to talk about cell phones in yoga class. Okay, next.

2) This is your time.  Yours.  You are in this class to de-stress, get your mind right, get stronger, stretch….any or all of the above. Disconnect from the one thing that ties you to the outside world.  The world that lends to your stress if you let it. And if you are constantly looking at your phone in class, you are letting the world stress you.  Unless you have some dire situations going in your life and you must be reached, don’t put your phone next to your mat, especially face up, during class.

3) Don’t make yourself so available.  Yeah, even to your family.  Let them be independent for an HOUR.  Just one, for goodness sake.

4) Having family and friends be without you for one hour is also very good for YOU.  Too many of us suffer from the need to constantly take care of others – and usually to our own detriment. How in the world can you take care of others if you are feeling like shit? Really? One of my closest and best friends in the world is constantly telling me to “put the oxygen mask on myself, then others”, paraphrasing instructions of what to do on a plane in case of emergency.  I lovingly pass this info on to you.

5) Constantly looking at your phone is rude to the instructor.  Really rude to your instructor.  We are not up there for our health; we are up there for YOURS.  We are there because we love what we do and are beyond thrilled to be teaching (I am speaking about all the incredible teachers that are my peers and whose classes I take.  There are a lot more of us than the bad ones so please don’t focus on that one bad apple.).  We have so much to share and are excited to do just that. Looking at your phone on the mat is the equivalent of someone excitedly telling you great news and instead of listening to them and paying attention you are simply looking at your phone, scrolling though Facebook.

6) It is distracting to others in the class when you are stooped over on your phone, on your mat, furiously texting someone back. Terribly distracting. It’s also distracting when your phone is going off constantly, on silent but still lighting up.

7) With all that said, if you need to take a call or get back to someone, it’s okay to leave.  It is also okay, and polite to tell your teacher before class begins that you may need to leave.  We are human, care about your well-being and are pretty compassionate. It’s just good etiquette.

So, let me stress, life can sometimes get in the way and you have to stay connected.  I admire those who are dealing with so much and still know they must get some time in for themselves and their own health so they can deal with whatever issues are facing them.  Unless you are SERIOUSLY one of those people, however, leave the phone out of your workout.  Stop cheating yourselves of the precious gift of exercise, movement and some well – deserved “me” time. And, stop being so rude – to yourself, first and foremost!

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