PT etiquette 101

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Steven Goetsch
  • Air Combat Command Public Affairs
The new physical fitness standards are in full swing, and you can see the impact by walking into any fitness center across the Air Force. The great thing about having packed gyms is seeing how the Air Force is getting in shape, getting fit and being ready to fight. The bad part about seeing so many warriors is you notice all the bad habits that are out there. Here are some examples.

The Hercules - or Herc for short. These guys are easy to spot...or hear. Effort is a must in the gym. Challenging yourself is one of the draws of getting in shape and staying in shape, but there are limits. You do not need to announce to the entire fitness center that you are attempting a world record. There is never a need to scream a weight up to its apex. I think it just might be too heavy. I saw a great sign on the wall of the fitness center at Sheppard Air Force Base that stated, "If you are too loud, IT'S TOO HEAVY!" Controlled breathing is not only polite; it is a part of proper lifting technique. More importantly, the Herc likes to lift large amounts of weight which is normally more difficult to control. One sound I have unfortunately grown accustomed to, is the crack from weights being released on that exhausting negative repetition. Our resources are very scarce these days, and it is important to extend the life of all our fitness equipment. Dropping weight stacks will not only break them, it will put that particular piece of equipment out of commission.

The Socialite - They are easy to spot because they run in groups. They are more interested in finding out how many people are going to be at the party that night than how many reps they are doing. Lots of them do "the lean" like they are holding the machine up, but with most machines weighing hundreds of pounds, they shouldn't need a couple wingmen to keep it from tipping over. Use a machine, and then move on. Another version is the remote socialite. The only thing they lift is their cellphone to their ear. We live in a digital world. Missions do not stop, I get it, but if you talk for an hour while you are on the treadmill, you definitely need to crank up the speed.

The Sheep - Most of these sightings take place on tracks around the world. When you run on the track, sometimes there are large groups of Airmen, (or flocks as I like to call them) just grazing with no apparent destination. They just do not realize like Frogger, you cannot haphazardly cross or stand there without looking for traffic. You can yell, "track" and as long as you get the attention of a couple, in true flock fashion, the rest follow along. You'd think they would scatter if you ran up to them, but they just seem unaware. Maybe each fitness center could get a border collie to keep them on the infield grass.

The Stalker - This person is kind of the rude cousin of the socialite. All of the fitness centers in the Air Force are unisex. If I was a betting man, I would say there is a definite chance that you might actually see someone from the fairer sex at the center. The stalker acts like he has not seen a female in quite some time. I have even heard women rank this unwanted attention into several categories like peeking, staring or gawking. This often leads to the female feeling uncomfortable and ultimately affecting their workout. The bottom line is everyone should be able to enjoy the fitness center without feeling like they are on display.

Pigpen - Just like the Peanuts character, you know these guys too. Nothing puts the damper on a workout than patiently waiting for a piece of equipment, and when it opens up, you discover the perfect sweaty outline of a posterior. The same goes for the homemade tank tops that have less material in them than a pair of socks. If you perspire that much, the other patrons would appreciate that little extra barrier of cotton between you and the machine. Sweating is natural, but it is an Air Force facility, so there is a certain level of decorum you should be adhering to.

As fitness becomes increasingly vital to our careers and lives as members of the Total Force, it is important to be cognizant of these habits. With military construction dollars shrinking, we need to share limited space with a growing number of people and the best way to do that is follow some very basic common sense rules and more importantly, etiquette.