I contribute a weekly column to the Platte County Landmark under the “Rambling Moron” name. It’s a great Northland Newspaper and well worth a subscription. The following is reprinted from the 12/28/11 edition with permission.

MEET MY FRIEND, GYM 
Posted 12/29/2011

There’s only one thing left to do in the Holiday Season, and that’s hit the gym. Surely, you’ve noticed that the Christmas Lexus commercials have now changed into ads for 24-hour fitness and Weight Watchers.

If November is all about Thanksgiving, December about Christmas, then January is all about dieting. In fact, according to CNBC, in 2010, the “weight loss industry” is a $55 billion (with a B) dollar industry. And 68% of all Americans are clinically “overweight.”
The means that advertising for gyms increases in January and folks are guilted into visiting the gym for a few weeks out of the year until the ads go away. My gym is the Platte County South YMCA in Parkville. It is an amazing facility. It is clean, comfortable, brightly lit and could challenge any Overland Park gym in terms of quality.

And I do my best to be a patron all year long–while that isn’t always reflected in my waistline. However, in January, it turns into a mass of humanity. EVERYONE wants to be at the gym in January. I simply say, “Welcome!” Oh. And get off my stationary bike.
So, I figured, since this is the season of giving, that a Gym Primer is in order for those of you who only seem to attend the gym out of guilt for overeating at Christmas dinner.

Feel free to cut this out and bring it along to the gym with you while you’re blocking my walking path…

GYM ETIQUETTE – The unwritten rules at a gym.

•Clean off your sweat when you’re done with the equipment. Seriously, nobody wants to take a bath in the shallow end of your DNA pool.

•Standard “mall parking spot” rules apply for equipment. Possession is 9/10ths of the law.

•Two-piece leotards are out. So are ankle warmers. This ain’t Flashdance. Run over to Dick’s sporting goods and buy yourself some gym clothes from the 21st Century

•Your water bottle shouldn’t hold more than 64 ounces of liquid. If you need wheels to carry it, it’s probably too big of a water bottle.

•Most of the equipment now comes equipped with televisions. This is fantastic and helps you maintain motivation to work out. This does NOT mean that you get to watch all 7 seasons of LOST taking up hours on the elliptical machine. Limit yourself to an hour at most.

•Admiring yourself in the mirror for more than five seconds just makes you look weird.

•Keep your grunting in the free weight area to a low growl. Nobody wants to work out next to Chewbacca.

•Shower Etiquette-These are very important. It’s important to understand where you should and should not walk around in the nude. Shower area? Sure. Air drying yourself on the changing bench? No thanks. Seriously, if we wanted to see the wildlife, we’d have gone to the zoo.

For those of us who try to go to the gym regularly, we do take solace in the fact that by about Jan. 21, we get our gym back. Plus the owners are happy that all those folks just wrote fat checks for new equipment that they will use twice. Welcome! We’ll see you next New Year!

(Chris Kamler is active on that thing known as Twitter, where he goes by the name of @fakenedyost)