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Cell Phone Etiquette: What about the Gym?

Some private and public entities in the nation have established themselves as zones where cell phone use is prohibited.  Most of us are familiar with rules against answering phones in movie theatres and libraries, and in some cases, those rules also specify that phones should be turned off completely so that they cannot even ring.  Though unpopular at first, society gradually adapted to such rules.

Now, however, a new domain has emerged as a controversial area for cell phone use: the local gym.  Some fitness clubs have had rules against cell phone usage for years, but such prohibitions have been far from universal.  The gyms that have the rules justify them on two different rationales.  Cell phone usage, particularly texting, can actually be hazardous when combined with certain exercise machines, such as treadmills, and furthermore, those who come to the gym to work out deserve the chance to exercise in a calm, quiet environment.

Other gyms have regarded the cell phone as an individual choice that should be left up to each person to decide.  Such gyms are well aware that those who want to use their phones may well choose another gym if rules start getting in the way.  In this sense, it is an economic decision.  Complicating the issue is the fact that phones have become ever more important in recent years.  Some people feel that they must have access to their phone at all times or they may risk losing an important client – or even their job.

It remains to be seen if rules against phones in gyms will spread more widely, but the battle lines have already been drawn.