As producer Annie Schulhof waited patiently to use the stairmaster, a fanatic exerciser repeatedly ignored the posted twenty-minute time limit sign and furtively bleeped the digital red numbers back to zero. Though the club manager tried to get the offender off citing club rules, ultimately it took two people to yank her, screeching obscenities, off the machine. “I couldn’t quite believe it,” says Schulhof, shuddering at the memory. Believe it. The great ill-mannered are taking to health club and gyms across the nation.
Try working out next to someone who ate pepperoni the night before, or who drank a keg of beer. Isn’t it just common knowledge that when you exercise heavily, the body will reek of what was recently ingested? Garlic supplements are perhaps the worst — if health conscious — offender, notes Dave Sothern vice-president at Bally Fitness. “Working out is a very egocentric experience,” he says, by way of explanation. “The focus is on ‘me’ and ‘my appearance’, which can lead people to forget those around them.”
At New York’s chic Equinox Gyms, members get a note left at the front desk if there are complaints about their personal cleanliness. The same standards exist for employees: Fitness Director Jeff Martin had to let go an instructor when clients complained about his odor and though Martin tried suggesting everything from deodorant to clean clothes, no amount of nudging seemed to help and off he went. Indeed because the nose is so sensitive, many fitness centers have completely outlawed perfume and aftershave on toxic grounds.