We all have our fair share of gym pet peeves, but using smartphones at the gym absolutely takes the cake for me. I’m always astounded by the number of gym-goers/zombies standing in hallways or sitting on machines while texting, Tindering, checking Instagram or reading Buzzfeed.
Beyond being a terrible habit (on many levels), our inability to ‘disconnect’ is an unfortunate reflection of our fractured attention spans and our inability to focus.
Here’s why you need to leave your smartphone in the locker:
- It’s nasty. A study in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine found rhinoviruses (instigators of the common cold) on some 63% of the gym equipment at the fitness centers they tested. From barbells to dumbbells to gym mats and equipment, gyms are breeding grounds for germs. Your smartphone presents a unique opportunity for cross-contamination; even if you wash your hands after the gym, do you also wash the screen that you were touching in between sets? Conclusion: You’re nasty.
- It’s rude. Especially when gyms are busy, sitting on a piece of gym equipment while texting Susan about the selfie that John posted last night is inconsiderate. And when you get distracted by your smartphone, you’re probably taking needlessly long rests, which carries over into our next point:
- It decreases workout intensity. Most of us aim for 30 – 60 second rest periods in between sets. When you’re distracted by your smartphone, seconds easily turn into minutes. This morning, I timed someone taking a six minute rest in between sets while he was typing away at his screen. Sure, it’s annoying for the rest of us waiting to use that piece of equipment. But it also gives that smartphone user decreased workout intensity. And you only get out of your workout what you put into your workout. In other words:
- It sabotages your results. We go to the gym to get results. But exercising while using a smartphone needlessly handicaps the experience. By taking excessively long rests, you’re watering down your workout and limiting your results. Why not get the most bang for your workout buck?
- It gives you monkey mind. Monkey mind is a term used by Buddha to describe the easily distracted and incessantly moving behavior of typical human consciousness. Like a monkey swinging from branch to branch, smartphone use impedes focus by moving the mind from one distraction to the next. By being present and focused during a workout, you’re also exercising your mind. Exercise can even become a meditation of movement.
- It might not end well. Gyms can be dangerous places with lots of heavy things moving around and plenty to trip on. If you’re caught up in your phone, you’re not paying attention to your environment. You could get hurt. Even worse, you could hurt your phone. I’ve seen many a smartphones shatter or get stepped on at the gym. Though I’m a generally peaceful and pacifistic man, I relish those moments as tiny victories for humanity.
- It can all wait. Let’s face it. You’re not the president of the United States. You’re not saving lives with your text messages. Your tweets are not changing the world. 99% of the texts you receive are unimportant noise that does nothing to serve your happiness or personal evolution. All of it can wait for an hour while you do something important for yourself.
Starting today, let’s all pledge to leave our smartphones in the locker. And if you need your smartphone for music while you exercise, then enable either airplane mode or the “do not disturb” feature so that you can resist the urge. Together, we can make the gym a better place for everyone.
What do you think of smartphones at the gym? Let me know in the comments below.
P.S. If you’re looking to increase your muscle mass, leaving your smartphone in the locker is a great place to start. But for a comprehensive and foolproof guide to building muscle, download my Size Matters program.