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Description: LIKE movie theaters and libraries, many fitness clubs have insisted for years that their workout areas should be cellphone-free.


Date: December 7, 2011

Their logic is as simple and straightforward as a push-up: they want to prevent people from yakking on their phones and annoying the fitness buffs who want to crank out reps and mileage in relative peace. Safety is another reason, because texting while running on a treadmill can be hazardous to your health.  But what makes sense in theory is becoming harder to police in practice. Gym owners say their members are dividing into two camps, those who can’t stand cellphones on the gym floor and those who see their phones as indispensable to their workouts as a bottle of water.  READ REST OF STORY

Questions for discussion:

  1. What are the pros and cons of banning smartphones in public places?

2.  Who should make the rules of who and where people can use their very private smartphones?

20 Responses to “Cellphones Test Strength of Gym Rules”

  1. Salma H.

    This issue is a very difficult one to asses. In this day and age, people have become heavily reliant on the use of their mobile devices. This heavy reliance is making it harder and harder to stand in between such usage in attempt to regulate it. Before reading this article I believed that it was ridiculous and unnecessary to forbid cell phones in fitness areas. If the use of one’s cell phone is not harming others, then what is the problem? However, as I read through this article I found problems that I have not thought about before. Such as the use of pictures, and video recording which involves more than just the user. This is a very serious problem which cannot be resolved without the overall ban of cell phones in such areas. But would this be fair? Would it be fair to make others ‘suffer’ this rule just to punish those that do not have common courtesy? Along with the pros that everyone’s privacy would be untouched, there are also a few cons. As noted in the article, smart phones allow the user to do much more than create commotion… They supply music and apps that enhance one’s workout. I think with all the different uses of cell phones nowadays, it will be much harder to come in between them and their users. Regulations may be put in place, but I find it hard to believe that people will actually follow them.

  2. Mattie E

    As an iPhone-loving gym member, I really connected to this article. I have a membership at both the YMCA and the university gym, both of which have cell phone bans at their facilities. The YMCA has had its ban in place for a few years, and they enforce the rule very strictly. I think there are several positive aspects to these rules in fitness facilities, however there are many difficulties enforcing them. I like having a cell phone ban because it makes me feel more comfortable in the change rooms and bathrooms. I realize that there are many privacy concerns with smartphones, such as using them to take photos and videos. I also like the ban because there is nothing worse than having to listen to an obnoxiously loud cell phone conversation while I’m on a treadmill trying to work out. Unfortunately, the YMCA only bans cell phones in its bathrooms and change rooms, not in the cardio or weight rooms. There have been a few instances where people will answer their phones while on a machine and don’t respect the people around them.
    While I support cell phone bans in gyms, there are a few issues when it comes to enforcement and who should actually make the rules about phones in these facilities. I own a smartphone and use it to listen to music while I’m working out. I have gotten in trouble a few times for “using my cellphone”, when in fact I was simply adjusting the volume of my music. People also supplement their workouts with special apps, such as Nike+iPod or MyFitnessPal. Cell phone bans can prevent people from using these apps, perhaps prompting them to switch to a gym with no ban. I think that fitness center owners need to take a look at their clients and decide what is most appropriate for their particular facility. Some gyms might have a bigger problem and need a complete ban, while others may cater to an older crowd that do not utilize smartphones, so a ban might not even be necessary.

  3. Mr. White

    There is an important distinction that needs to be made here between the locker room and the gym; the former presents serious privacy issues and the latter does not.

    There is no question that cell phones can be used to video tape people nude in a locker room, and it is extremely important that rules are put in place to protect both adults and children. It is an unfortunate reality that this is a precaution that must be taken.

    On the other hand, the kindergarten like rule that tells grown adults that they are not cellphones in the gym makes very little sense to me. I think it is absurd to tell an adult that they are not allowed to use their own property in a public place.

    If there is a safety issue with the use of cell phones on treadmills, put up a sign. Any why not include IPods since it is not safe to flip through songs while you are on the treadmill. The argument that there is a privacy risk involved with cell phone use in the gym opens the door to ban cell phones in all public places.

    I do not think that the gym is the most appropriate place to bring a cell phone because it make get lost or damaged during a workout. But to tell an adult they are not allowed to use their own property does not make sense to me.

  4. Chance Engel

    The pros and cons of banning cell phones in a public place such as the gym is simple.

    Pros: People arent distracted, or distracting others. (safety and productivity)

    Cons: Cell phones have the ability to do many things such as play music and store logs, they have apps for everything including workout programs. People depend on these things and utilize the convenience and the opportunity that these devices can provide us. I personally put everything on my phone from grocery lists, things i need to do, yearly calender, work and school schedules, homework etc. it is just a much easier and more efficient way of doing things than writing it all down and carrying sticky notes around with me all day.

    As for the public banning, I thing that there are certain places where the devices dont need to be used for texting, emailing and calling. The way i see the gym i dont thing phones are necessary at all but i absolutely understand and support people that use them for their gym apps, music and other related items. I think of it just like when you are at a hockey game. Anyone can get up and go to the washroom or concessions and people dont have a problem with it, BUT, only when the play is between whistles or at intermission. If you got up half way through the play to scoot by everyone in your row you will be sure to have a dozen people screaming at you, “down in front”.

    My point is, theres a time and a place for everything. and the gym just isnt the place for texting, emailing, and calling.

  5. Amb O

    Very interesting read indeed. I feel that individuals should definitely be aware of cell phone use in the gym. The issues mentioned in this article are valid concerns. Cyber bullying has become a great issue in this day and age and it’s sad. Cell phone usage should be banned in the gym. This is fair because I feel that people should go to the gym for one reason only which is to work out. You can leave your phones behind for an hour or two, that won’t kill you. I don’t think it’s neccessary to bring your phone into the gym area as people can be using it for the wrong reasons. It’s not polite for an individual to be filming other individuals just because they may find certain things entertaining. People need to realise that others go to the gym to lose weight while others go there to keep healthy. No one would want a video of themselves popping up on youtube while others laugh at other peoples body. It’s not fair neither is it moral. I personally feel like if you can’t leave you smart phone behind for just an hour or two for the gym, then you have some serious issues and should not be at the gym in the first place. Find somewhere else to text or make phone calls, don’t go to the gym.

  6. Veronica

    In Lethbridge, many places around town, there are signs that are no phone zones and I often ignore them. For instance, if my Doctor appointment is at 10:00 and I’m waiting until 11:00 am, you better believe I will be entertaining myself throught music, games, texting, etc. Pros of banning phones in certain areas offers people a sense of privacy, quiet concentration (library, school areas, etc), and as said in the article you don’t have to hear boisterous conversations. I think that pro is also based on the user – I don’t care where I am, if you chose to talk in a loud enough tone that can be heard ten feet away I’m probably going to unintentionally listen in. Some of the cons of phone bans – the waste of time trying to enforce it in certain places and a con for a business would be loss of clientele such as the gym business.

    With smart phones there are a lot of advances with applications available as said in the article and for quite a few people their applications or phone has become a work out motivation rather than just a phone. For instance, I like to use the application – myfitnesspal which allows you to log a personal diary of food intake and fitness regimines and if you don’t check in that day or a couple of days it reminds you to get back on track. Also, a lot of people like to workout with someone, for some people their phone is that “someone” because they can still text and be in contact with people and be productive at the same time.

    People can be taking videos at any time, in class, on the bus, movie theater, karaoke, or at the gym, etc. and unfortunately, there’s not a whole lot that can be done to stop it because people are going to continue using their phones in public places. If companies want to enforce a rule that should be up to that company, most companies have their own policies and I don’t think this should be any different. Again it’s how much time that company is willing to spend on enforcing such rule.

    It’s also a good reminder that at the gym you’re not in a library or somewhere that you really have to be mute, and listening to music or sending an email should be no one’s business but that of the phones’ owner. The other people complaining should be more concerned with how many reps they’ve done… especially if they look like Ronnie off Jersey Shore!

  7. Rod white quills

    this subject is very tricky because of all the advanacement in the way people work out and the way we use our phone there is two different sides to this story and both can be correct and wrong at the same time privacy is so hard to come buy and that is why most people won’t go to a gym to work out because they are to shy and with the thought of being filmed while you do workout what is that going to do to the average person who doesn’t go to the gym everyday or look like a greek god or goddess. it will make it even harder to get people to join a gym if poeple are allowed on the phone while others work out . wecant say that oh nobody will filw a person for being out of shape because society still feels the need to embarrass each other for a good laugh. onthe other hand technology allowsus to work while we play or work out we sometimes need to get some work done because there is just not enough hours in the day to work and workout so it would be hard to ban phones while we workout but it will only get worse not better like mr. Evanssaid inthe story because how much of our privacy are we willingto give up forthe sake of technology.

  8. Keely

    Banning smartphones in public places is like taking away a person’s rights, by not being able to use their phones whenever they want to people will be less likely to continue going to the place where smartphones are banned. There is always a way of getting around going to a place that you dislike, like a gym, because it has banned the use of cellphones.

    Although, on the positive side, by banning smartphones in public places people become less of a nuisance to those around them. If I were going to a gym I wouldn’t want to be bothered by the lady on the treadmill next to me talking about the latest gossip on her cellphone.

    The businesses that wish to enforce rules about use of cellphones in their facilities should have full rights to make those rules, but should take suggestions from patrons using their facilities on a regular basis. I believe that if gyms were to ban smartphones they should only do it to a certain extent, like maybe having sections of the gym where it is hazardous to be using a phone while using the equipment ban them entirely. Where in other areas where a smartphone could actually help out with a person’s workout I believe they should not be banned at all.

    When it comes to privacy issues I don’t think the business can be blamed at all for anything, even if something was filmed in their facility. It doesn’t make a difference whether they were in the building doing something that another person thought to be funny and filmed, or if they were outside on the street doing the same thing. The person doing the filming is the one that needs to accept the blame, as it cannot be stopped.

  9. Jenn Burton

    The pros and cons of banning cellphones in gyms are vast and varied depending on the type of people you talk to or see at the gym. Pros for banning are: security, privacy, serenity and many others. Security is at the forefront and poses concerns of people wanting to be left alone to work out and not have everyone know where they are 24/7, especially if they are in situations for which privacy is key. Secondly privacy, which with security goes hand in hand. Privacy in the locker room has never been an issue until now and for those that invade others, it’s a question of “why?” in the first place, what is so interesting about videoing others? Why do you feel you need to share that with others? Etc. I am sure those that are invading others would feel just as violated as the people they are recording or taking pictures of. The last point is serenity, I personally go to the gym to get away and have time to myself. If I were to bring my cell into the gym with me, I would be constantly checking texts and email in which then I am not being productive at the gym and shouldn’t have even bothered going. I believe that if you want to use it for tracking progress that’s one thing, but most gyms always have music playing so you don’t need the iPod and others are there to get away from the office, why remind them of it?. Cons are that it invades a person’s rights to do whatever they please with their personal choice. Banning cellphones in the gyms poses the problem of who will be the one to tell someone that it’s against policy and the unfortunate task of approaching an intimidating person at the gym.
    I think that the people to make the rules and where they apply are completely a per gym assessment. Cells in the locker room pose privacy issues but unless staff is willing to monitor the room it will be hard to enforce. Cells in the workout area are ok as long as that ringers are on silent and ignored as well as text and email tones. But, the use of apps for tracking progress and counting calories are beneficial and should be encouraged. If a member doesn’t like the change in policy, so be it, the loss of a membership is outweighed by the benefits of others not being harassed or disturbed.

  10. Le Liu

    Smartphone becomes a very important part in our daily life now due to its convenience. People can easily get access to internet by using smartphone. When and wherever we need, we could get the latest news and information we need. Yet using smartphone in public still brought discussion. The good thing is that smartphone do provides many useful functions and applications. For example, students can use it to get studying materials. There are also many language skills improving applications, free novels available. It also provides personal assistant function. If people get lost, smartphone could help them easily find where they are and help them find the way. For the people who work in the field that requires fast information sharing, smartphone is a defiantly good helper. Meanwhile, using smartphone in public brings issues of privacy. It might cause trouble due to talking too much private information though the phone. The other negative effect is multitasking. People do texting and talking while driving. It is one of the important reasons of traffic accident. For the students who are kind of addict to smartphone. It is really hard for them to concentrate on listening to the lectures. Smartphone sometimes could be really distracting in library or public speech.

  11. Sophie

    If people want to be using their cellphones while working out, buy a treadmill and use it at home. At a public place, get off of your phone! Personally, I believe they should be completely banned from gyms. Because of all that phones are capable of now, it is impossible to know who is using their phone for what- so just ban them completely.

    People think that not being allowed to use their phones is ‘against their rights’, but it isn’t about that. Its about manners (and people’s lack there of these days). Plain and simple: don’t be on your phone in line at the grocery, don’t ignore the Subway staff trying to make your sub by being on your phone, don’t interrupt someone talking for your phone, AND last but not least, don’t bring your phone to the gym. It isn’t fair to others to have to over hear you and the privacy matters of video cameras on phones are more important than that text you just have to answer.

  12. Brani

    First of all individuals have become so dependant on their smart phones it is complete and utter bul… People who go to the gym can have different reasons, whether your there to check out the sweet ass on the tread mill, or the sweaty dude beefing up for his next body building competition. The purpose is to work out and take a break from the outside world. The pros to banning cell use could include less injury, less stress or better morale for everyone attending the gym. The cons include clients changing facilities that allow cell use therefore loss of business, gaining a bad reputation for having strict rules in place where a gym should be a place where you can come and deal with issues privately. The people who should make the rules are the gym owners, the best part of owning a business is you get to make the place how you want it. I garantee that you may lose business but you will gain those who want a atmosphere where they can be relaxed and enjoy a good solid worry free work out. Our society has lots its common sense when it comes to technology, figure it out because its not a hard thing to do!

  13. Ryan Huntley

    By banning the use of cell phones within the confines of an establishment such as a gym, you’re detracting a very large portion of the population that feels entitled to being connected to the world through technology at all times. I used to work out with a guy that used his iPhone as a way to track his workout weights and reps, which proved to be a valuable tool for his progression. As in many aspects of our lives, smart phones have the power to facilitate our progression by providing real time information that is relevant to our hobbies and interests, and I see no reason to govern that particular user with overly strict usage policies.
    This being mentioned, I understand that there is a portion of the population that remains oblivious to the fact that there are certain venues where talking on a cell phone is not appropriate. Furthermore (within the context of a gym), I can also respect the concern that someone’s less-than-flattering form has the potential of ending up on Youtube for the general public’s amusement, which leaves me divided on the subject.
    All of this taken into consideration, here’s the verdict; business owners and managers should be providing guidelines for their facility users within respect to acceptable cell phone use. It’s important to emphasize though that these should be GUIDELINES. As soon as you take a widely acceptable entitlement away from your clientele, you give them a reason to look for other service providers that are flexible to their needs. Less clients = less revenue = bad business. It’s that simple.

  14. Marli Hadden

    Some pros of banning smartphones in public places would be things like: increased attention and safety of people who are not preoccupied with their phone. Another benefit would be that there would be no threat of people taking pictures or videos of people for amusement or embarassment purposes. Cons of banning smartphones in public places are the lack of access to apps that people need and use in a given situation. Also, the limitation on the freedom to use smartphones could cause anger and perhaps backlash by those who find it necessary to have their phones in public places such as the gym. In terms of the example of using smartphones in the gym, I think that the gym should be able to make the rules on whether or not they allow smartphones when working out at the gym. If they think allowing or disallowing phones at the gym is more beneficial to their business then that gym should have the power to make that decision. Personally, I think that people talking or textring on their phones at the gym is a nuissance at the gym. People are generally there to work hard and break a sweat and the only reason they might need their phone is for some tunes. If I am waiting for a treadmill and there is someone walking along and texting, they are wasting everyone’s time including their own.

  15. Xuan Wang

    In the gym some people are big lover of smart phone and the others are such do not like to people use phones in the gym. Gym is a public place and the goal of people to go to gym is want to do some exercises. So the smart phone are banned in the gym is reasonable. Not only in the gym, in many other public places are phones also being banned. I believe it is a kind of manner to others. There are many pros to ban the phones in the public places. The pro of banning using smart phone in public is safety. For example, in airplanes and hospitals, cell phones can interfere with the functioning of delicate instruments, a serious consideration. Recently, the Alberta government also banned call phones are used while driving. Talking on a phone while driving quadrupled the risk of an accident, and nearly equal to the danger from driving drunk. Peace and quiet is another pro for banning the smart phone in the public. Many people go to places such as libraries specifically to focus and do work. Others attend church or religious services for time to worship and reflect. People who use their “sell yell “in such a setting distract others.

  16. Misbah Dar

    There is no specific person who makes the rules of when and where to use and not use their very private smartphones. The more you tell people not to do something, the more they will do it that is human nature. There are lots of places people use smartphones, it has become a security blanket for them. It is always there for them whenever they need it and it can be used for anything they need help with. People who misuse these smartphones or any technology should be the ones penalized for misusing it. Everyone shouldn’t have to pay the price. Smartphones are there to be used in people’s everyday lives and if some people are annoyed by it then they should learn that this is the best new thing. These smartphones are our future and should not ban the future from coming. People should be able to adapt to the new technology. There are lots of apps in the smartphone that people can use to make their lives easier in the gym such as calorie counting, listening to music, and read how to do workouts. The way people workout might change in the future with the help of smartphones.

  17. Reply

    I see numbers of people at the gym with smart phones for a lot of reasons. Seems like most of people bring their smart phones for a mp3 purpose.
    I think the pro of allowing smart phones in the gym will be that people have an access to personal music playlists, using all different kinds of work-out related apps for better result/work out, and don’t have to worry about missing calls during the work-out. However, my choice is NOT bringing a smart phone in the gym. The cons would be that some people around a person with a smart phone (or just a cell phone) might worry about that they might be picture taken, like it says in the article, it is now instant to put a picture on online. Also I personally find using cell phone on exercise equipment, especially on treadmill very dangerous. For security reasons, I don’t disagree of this issues. It’s difficult to determine who should be making the rules of who and where people can use their smart phones. Smart phones is a huge development in IT field but seems like technology these days violates personal lives.

  18. Megan H

    While I fully understand that some people are just not able to disconnect from their cell phones long enough to complete a workout, they may use excuses like what if I have a work or family emergency, or they are using it to aid in their workouts. I can fully grasp these concepts, but what did people do before cell phones. I feel there may be extenuating circumstances for use in a gym facility, but as a general statement people need to leave their phones alone while working out. I know that I use my phone as my ipod while I work out and I don’t see a problem with that, but I do see a problem with people gabbing away on their cell phones while hogging cardio machines at the gym. I also understand the privacy aspect as well, I would not want someone taking pictures or videos of me while working out. I fully appreciate the fact that I am not graceful and I look like a crazy person when trying out new exercises. It seems to me that it would do people some good to disconnect from their devices for a while and give themselves a chance to just enjoy their workout. Anything that happens in that hour will still be waiting for you to deal with after your workout is over.

  19. Keith Grier

    It’s going to be hard as the article says to control in this type of environment. A major pro of a smarphone in this workout environment, is the fact that you program your own music. For myself, i can program my entire workout to my exercising regime with my favorite songs that simulate my workout. The simple fact that these smart phones offer all these different types of services is cost effective for individuals, that way they don’t have to have a separate peice of equipment resulting in extra expense and time to program just for your workout.
    The con side of things is the annoyance of people talking about business or issues, well you work out, but like the article says it no different then people working out adjacent to you talking polites or something else. We under the charter of right and freedoms can still speak out loud as long as we are not hurting anyone else. If people feel scolded for using there phone they simply will go somewhere else that offer there service needs.
    I think this has nothing to do with talking on your phone or utilizing it the way individuals want, but more to do with legalities, as in for the owner of the clubs being sued if someone gets hurt. I think that the only way to properly mediate this situation is to write up a proper legal contract for everyone to sign who wants to be a member, that will detailed equipment use and proper conduct and note that if you are to use your smartphone that it is at your own expense put the ownership on the user. This would also cover all legalities that might come about once the agreement is signed as now it is a legal contract in order to use the facilities after all it is a business and everybody who wants to be involved should comply with the service been offered. Then people could use there phones the way they want music, texting, email, phone calls whatever.

  20. Andrew D

    The pros of banning cellphones in the gym would be that people who are annoyed by others talking on the phone is the gym would now be able to focus. Another pro would be involving safety. The gym is a placve where you occasionally need to have your head up to maybe support someone who is about to lose control of their weights etc. and those with their heads down and paying attention to thier phones will miss those chances. The CONS of banning phones are basically just punishing those people who use their devices for important things, which dont hurt the experience of others. I use my phone in the gym everytime I am there, but never once have I made or taken a call. I use it as my music player, and i use the notes section to store workout routines so I dont have to remember them. I do think that each gym owner should have the right to decide whether or not they want to allow phones in their gym, but that banning them altogether may be too drastic a decision.

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