She must not think she sweats or she just somehow always forgets to wipe down the machine when she’s done.
It doesn’t matter if you are on a machine for 2 minutes. Between sweat and whatever disgustingness was one your hands, you must wipe down a machine when you are done with it. It’s etiquette. And it’s a rule at the gym!
You are allowed to tell somebody like this to step up her game. Just make sure you say it nicely: “Hey, I think you forgot to wipe down your station back there.”
The Class Hog
This exerciser claims her "spot" and expects it to be hers even if she's late to class.
Don’t fall into the trap of either being bullied by her and staying away from “her” spot –but don’t intentionally take her spot just to teach her a lesson, says Elizabeth Lombardo, Ph.D., psychologist and author of A Happy You: Your Ultimate Prescription for Happiness. Base your workout location depending on your needs (e.g. close to the instructor or near the fans), not hers.
The Machine Hopper
Jumping between two machines per set is fine when the gym is empty, but not when it's busy.
You have a couple of options. “You can confront her in a direct, but non-threatening, way, [something like] ‘I see you are using two machines, I would like to use one until you finish your turn on the other,’” says psychologist Laury Paul, Ph.D.
Or simply stay clear of this person, not because she is right but because you don’t need her negative energy, says Lombardo.
The Rule Breaker
She ignores the 20-minute time limit even though you've clearly signed up for the machine.
First, speak with her directly, says Lombardo. Be assertive. “It is possible she was not aware that she was going over her time limit.” Don’t just assume that she’s evil. If it turns out she is, and she refuses to budge, tell someone who works for the gym about the situation, this way you can be non-confrontational and still resolve the issue.
The Girl Who Showers In Perfume
In case you don’t have the sense of smell, you might know her as the one with perfectly matching outfits (Hello, Lulu Lemon) and full face of makeup.
You’re best bet is really to ignore her. She’s obviously got her own agenda. If the scent really starts to affect your workout (i.e. breathing), talk to gym staff.
The Show Off
This person seemingly comes out of nowhere and tries to spot you.
Let her know that your current pace is perfect for you today considering your activity level and fitness goals, says Allison Grupski, Ph.D., assistant professor in the department of psychology and behavioral neurosciences at Loyola University Medical Center. Most of the time she's just showing off and genuinely trying to help. Even so, there’s no need to let her push you into a place you're not ready for.
Often, it’s a trainer who works at the gym who's looking for more business. If that’s the case, says Grupski, just say thank you and that you'll look at written materials about his/hers services—later.
The Non-Stop Talker
She talks to you even when you're wearing a headset.
You can let her know, “Great to chat. I need to get back to my workout. Hope you have a good workout yourself,” says Lombardo. Then put on your earphones and focus on your workout. It’s okay to not respond to continued comments as if you cannot hear her, says Lombardo. “She will get the hint.”
Don’t feel badly about it. The point is you are there to workout, not to bond with anybody.
The Backhanded Complimenter
"You're already so thin! Why do you need to workout?"
Realize this has more to do with the other person than with you. “She is probably jealous of how you look and feel inferior in comparison,” says Lombardo. Don’t get sucked into negativity, but use the opportunity to educate this person instead. For example, try a response such as, “I exercise because it is good for my mind and body.”
She feels her workout routine is better than yours and makes fun of you.
This may be an ill attempt at humor, so first consider brushing it off. If it continues, and someone is truly making fun of you, this is bullying behavior, says Grupski. “The key is to respond in a way that allows you to continue your routine peacefully.” This may include avoiding the person, directly addressing the person, or, if it becomes a problem, reporting her to the gym staff.
She points out another woman at the gym and says, "If you work hard enough you could look like her."
Your goals are yours alone and should be centered on your physical health and wellbeing, not anybody else. Let the person know that, says Grupski. “Falling prey to this kind of thinking is rarely effective and can actually be counterproductive.” So, kindly state what your objectives are and walk away from the chatter.
A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.