Protocol for gym-users

I have just joined a gym and before I go for the first time (I’ve never gone to a gym before) am wondering if there is any gym etiquette I should know about?

There are a few things that are good to know. First, put equipment, like weights, away or restore the equipment to the way you found it. Wipe down any machines after you use them, with a wipe if provided, or at least your towel. Be prepared to share or take turns. Most gyms post a time limit for the use of any equipment and you should abide by that whether anyone is obviously waiting or not. Don’t text, and don’t sing. It’s amazing how many people sing, rather loudly, along with their iPod. This is annoying to other gym users. Also, don’t stare at other people. It feels invasive to them, even if you are just trying to figure out how to use the piece of equipment they’re on. It’s best to ask a staff member when you aren’t sure.

We’re new in our community and have been invited to what seems to be a traditional neighborhood New Year’s Eve party. I’m not sure if it is dressy, or not. I don’t want to overdress, but I also don’t want to be casual if everyone is dressed up. What do I do?

You ask! Just call your host or hostess, and inquire. This is perfectly appropriate and you will feel much more confident having a general idea of what other guests might wear, and certainly what your hosts will wear. You can also ask a neighbor you’ve gotten to know what the protocol is, especially since you’re new to the area and haven’t got a clue. Whenever you are invited to an event and aren’t clear on the expected attire, it is always correct to ask for guidance.

We had an early gift exchange with my daughter and her family since they will travel to her husband’s family for Christmas. She told us after we opened presents that her children loved the gifts we gave them, but they really wanted something else. Since we used great care in shopping for them, this hurt our feelings and we feel she shouldn’t have said this, and it’s not the first time this has happened. We’re feeling like we’d rather not even bother in the future. Should we say something?

Yes, you should suggest that for future gift-giving events, she let you know in advance what her children would like most. If she doesn’t, call her and ask! It’s great to know what your grandchildren would like so you can try to fulfill that wishes. Should she reply that they would like anything at all, it’s fine for you to tell her that this has not worked well in the past because she has told you they would have liked something else instead, so you need specific ideas, please.

Questions for Catherine? Send them to