• Sarah Ballan

Exercise Class Phone Etiquette

In an age in which Face-Time dominates face-to-face time, I cherish the moments when I am away from my iDevices. Although I make it a hard rule to never text while I’m out to eat, whether I’m on a date or out with friends, I will admit my thumb habitually gravitates towards my home button frequently throughout the day, especially when I am bored and alone or in between activities. (No, I do not have facial recognition, I refuse to conform).

It’s more than a habit. It’s an addiction. I feel empty without my phone. Without iMessage. God forbid I go more than a couple hours without instagram! However, there are certain sacred places that still exist where phones and electronics are taboo. One of them is group fitness. I wouldn’t dream of taking my digital sidekick with me during a workout.

I have been in the group fitness industry for four years. Crazy how time flies! Anyway… I have worked at not one, not two, but three different indoor cycling facilities. I thrive on the high I get from an intensive, good workout in a room full of people sweating it out simultaneously. Whether you are there to let off steam or get in shape, workouts, especially group workouts, should be a guaranteed forty-five minutes to an hour session of living in the moment and being present.

Being present allows you to be mindful, which, believe it or not, is a form of meditation. Meditation does not necessarily mean going to the mountains and sitting in silence.

When you are focusing intently on one thing and living in the moment, you are meditating! In terms of exercise, when you are aware of your breathing and pushing your body to new physical limits, you are meditating. Activities like group fitness allow you to get out of your head and put the daily stressors of work and life aside as you focus on the music and the workout. Furthermore, like any other meditation, it provides you with mental clarity.

When you are concentrating on your phone and not the workout, you are not being present. The moment your thumbs touch the device and your eyes lock onto the screen, you are inevitably sucked in: your attention diverts from the people and stimuli around you as you immerse yourself in your online world. You are targeted with ads and bombarded with nonstop pictures and messages in the digital realm.

I had an extremely shocking experience the other night while teaching my night class downtown. The room was packed with people coming from work; From places in which, I imagine, they are shoved in cubicles in front of computer screens for hours and hours. Showing up to a nighttime spin class post-work is more than just exercise; it’s therapy.

It is an unspoken rule to leave electronics behind in order to escape. One rider, we’ll call him Dick*, a common nickname for Richard, decided to break said rule. Headphones shoved into his ears and oblivious to his surroundings, Dick dicked around during class, disturbing the other riders in the room. Despite the deafening music, he proceeded to ignore my instruction as he played on his iPhone instead of peddling on his spin bike. Why not join a Blink or a Crunch? Why show up to a collaborative activity and pay upwards of $30 to not pay attention and sit on your phone. You might as well light your money on fire or use it to wipe your @$$.

NEWS FLASH: People pay (lots of money!) to workout at premium places ie: Flywheel. Not only is being on your phone incredibly rude to the instructor who is speaking and who has worked hard to carefully plan out a lesson, it also ruins the experience for everyone around you. It takes the magic out of the moment as it prematurely snaps people back into reality.

Side note: Another huge no-no is talking during class. If you think the loud music is camouflaging your commentary, you are highly mistaken. Kindly zip it or unclip it.

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