no_cell_phoneI have two memorable cell phone experiences in the gym.

The first occurred the very first time I taught a yoga class at the gym where I worked for six years.  One wall of the studio was shared with a racquetball court, so the incredible energy and competitive spirit of the recreational racquetball players in that court were a special part of the first half of the class.   Mere moments after we settled into savasana, a cell phone in a bag at the back of the room began to blast, it seemed, the William Tell Overture (the theme to The Lone Ranger).  I think because I had, at the beginning of class, asked everyone to turn off their cell phones, no one cared/dared to respond to this insistent and intrusive phone call.  It persisted and persisted and persisted.  For class participants who tended to nod off during savasana, surely this was a yogic breakthrough.  In the end, no one ever laid claim to the incredibly important galloping call that night.  I am happy to say it was the only such experience I had in a yoga class.

The second instance required me to work a bit harder to find the humour of the situation.  I was working at the front desk of the facility in what would be considered a  ‘customer service representative’ position.  It was an early morning and a member I had never seen before came in to use the pool.  I later learned that her early morning laps were an unfortunately short-lived effort at ‘getting in shape’ for her Dominican Republic wedding.  This young woman, 25ish I would think, thought I should answer her cell phone while she was in the pool as she was on-call.  To that end, she thought I should carry her cell phone around the facility while I performed my morning duties.  I do not recall her offering me her on-call stipend to perform her on-call duties.  When I did not agree to her request, she huffed and puffed and left the facility sans her wedding-toning workout that day and I never set eyes on her again.  She did return, however, later in the week, to file a formal complaint against me.  Her expectation of me still leaves me confounded.

Cellphones, blackberries, iphones and the like are not conducive to your best workout.  On the treadmill and texting on your cellphone; eyeballing your blackberry during weight sets; cell phone chatting on the stationary bike; taking calls during group classes…  Not only are you not focusing on your workout, you are distracting everyone around you!  If you are a firefighter, a doctor on-call, or some other vital service provider, your cellphone is there and quietly able to alert you to your indispensable need.  Otherwise, it just might be time for you to re-assess your priorities and leave that iphone off and in your locker or in your car.

At least one national gym chain, Nubody’s, has identified your need to be present in your workout as top priority.  Nubody’s has a ‘no cellphone’ policy.  Good on them.  Get your big head around that and squeeze out one more rep!  You are more important than the technology to which you are connected.  So, be present, be focused, mazimize your gym time, and your workouts will be much more efficient and effective and your benefits will be multiplied.