Ethics

Who Has a Right to that Empty Dance Studio?

9 P.M., and the gym is moderately crowded. The stretching area full, but the machines only somewhat so. Jumping rope is tricky in an urban, multip-purpose gym. There is no particular place set aside for it. You can station yourself in front of the underutilized chest-pully apparatus, or the sonic vibrating platform machine, but you must be aware of passers by. Float too far into the path of foot traffic, and you're being selfish, and ostentatious. Drift too far back and your rope rope may get  suddenly and dangerously tangled. Across the way, the rows of bulky, expensive cardio machines — some sitting empty — face rows of flat screen TVs.  Humans crave stimulus, and so gyms engage in the gym equipment arms race. Jump ropers go homeless. Ah, fitness capitalism, but pay attention to the CrossFit backlash!) 

You consider sneaking into the spinning studio after a class. That room is largely empty, but you're forced to jump rope in the dark and on an odd angle to the wall, between the bikes. Also, you must dodge the cleaning crew who will occasionally stop their mopping and glance at you. What the cleaning crew is thinking about, in general, is an interesting question. SO, it's 9 P.M., and you wander into the dance-fitness studio, which is also empty at this late hour, but spacious, with hardwood floors.

Most people don't think to colonize the dance studio, which, during off hours, generally exudes the exclusive feeling of a swimming pool during Adult Hour. Also, the dance studio lacks music and the soft mat-floor for stretching. It's borderline lonely. But there are usually SOME intrepid characters who do push their way in there. "I pay to be a member of this club," they think. "And that's a lot of empty space." Often a trainer will go in there with a client. SO, you go in too, past the inscrutable cleaning crew member squeegie-ing the glass door, and you find the studio empty save for one person.

She is an attractive young Asian woman, in short shorts, running sneakers, and a t-shirt, and she is standing upright, staring at the mirror. You fumble with your jumb rope to adjust the length. The only sound in the room is the air conditioning, and the muted thump of music and cardio machines from beyond the now clean glass door. You are suddenly very conscious of disturbing this woman's peace. She got to the dance studio first, so perhaps she has some unspoken right to silence. Like she's the roommate with her name on the lease. You adjust your rope, take a trial jump or two, and look up again. She has begun silently doing tai chi. She is moving her arms slowly, and her feet are moving silently.  You start for real. Thwack. Thwack. Thwackety. Thwackety. She makes no perceptible sign of disapproval, but she shifts to the far end of the room.

So here is the ethical question which confronts the veteran gym goer: Do you continue stubbornly jumping rope, proclaiming your right to your corner of the hardwood floor in this hot, overcrowded city. Or, do you take your rope and quietly retreat to the crowds on the other side of the glass, wedging yourself between the pulley's and the sonic plates? 

Tai Chi! (Via <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/rickyqi/4553037873/">Rickyqi</a>.)

Comments

generally, people are just happy to have found any space at all, so i don't think it would be an imposition to the person "who got there first" if to share the space with someone else.

i love when trainer mike and i hold our sessions in the empty yoga studio...it feels luxurious -- no distractions, just him and me, working.

msh258's picture

In my gym, the boxing studio is used to jump rope.  It's usually empty but last night it was packed!  I jumped rope with two other guys, a trainer was boxing with a girl and a guy was punching on the bag. 

The beat we all created was pretty cool - but it was definitely tight in there!

michlny's picture

I think I'd ask if she minded out of courtesy, but it's not like she reserved the room, so you have as much right to be there as she does.

Evangeline's picture

I usually ask if they mind...and/or ask if the space I'm using is out of their way...just out of courtesy. But we all pay for the gym so we're all entitled to it as long as there is enough room!

Eis4Emily's picture



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