The Serenity Prayer, as it is known, has been adopted by Alcoholics Anonymous and can be a comfort to anyone coping with life's many challenges.

(Photo Dmitriy Shironosov/

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, The courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference.

The Serenity Prayer, as it is known, has been adopted by Alcoholics Anonymous and can be a comfort to anyone coping with life's many challenges. For example, we think of it when we're dealing with cell phone usage by our health club members.

Like other club managers attempting to control this pesky issue at facilities all over the world, we're losing the fight, and we're about ready to throw in the towel. Part of our frustration is caused by the absolute obliviousness of so many of our members. The other part of our frustration is that today's reality makes containing cell phone use all but impossible.

To be sure, we have all of the right policies in place. They include no cell phones on the workout floor and in locker rooms, and we ask that all usage be restricted to the lobby areas or outside. We've got signs up, too, identifying "No Cell Phone" zones throughout our clubs. But it's all pretty much a waste of time and effort.

TROUBLE WITH SIGNS A big part of the problem is the definition of "cell phone usage." We realized while writing this that we're just as bad as our members. Every doctor and dentist in the world has signs in their waiting areas that say "No Cell Phones," yet we think nothing of taking out our phones to read email, send text messages or browse the web. We assume that the concern in a doctor's office would be the disruption caused by patients talking on their phones. After all, what harm can be done by quietly reading or pecking on a virtual keyboard?

None, we hope. But we've never asked our doctors. Maybe they think we're as bad as some of our members. After all, the sign says "No Cell Phones." Instead, should the signs say "No talking on your cell phone, but everything else is okay?"

If we tried posting such specific signs at our clubs, we'd drive everyone crazy. Can you imagine?

In the weight room: Cell phones are okay for texting, email and listening to music with a headset, but no talking. Oh, no photos or videos, either.

In the cardio room: Don't use your phone for talking, email or texting. You'll annoy people if you talk, and if you are reading and responding to email or texts you might trip on your treadmill and get hurt. Music with headphones is okay. Oh, yeah, also no photos or videos.

In the locker rooms: REALLY no photos or videos. Why? Think "naked people," you dope. Texting, emailing and browsing the web are okay. But, no, you can't blast your music while you shower. Oh, and no talking. We know it's just the locker room, but it's still annoying to other members.

In classes: Are you kidding? Shut it off. All the way off. Not just silent mode. If you want to be The Worst Person in the World like that employee at Facebook who got a yoga instructor fired because she was so self-absorbed that she had to type on her phone during a yoga class - a yoga class! - then go ahead, make our day. Make a call. Answer a call. Start reading and responding to text messages. We'll terminate your membership because you don't belong in decent society.

In the pool: Please re-read the part of your contract that says we are not responsible for your personal items, then bring your phone into the pool area. We dare you.

In the lobby area outside of our daycare room: Yes, we know this is an appropriate place to use your phone any way you'd like. But, please, no photos of your little angels through the windows of the daycare room. We don't want other parents thinking we have a pedophile in our midst.

IGNORANT PEOPLE Those signs would make everything clear as day, wouldn't they? A different policy for every few hundred square feet of space. It's not our fault, after all. We're blaming Steve Jobs. And now Samsung is going to start calling their phones "life companions." That will help. Asking someone to do without their phone would be like asking them to give up breathing. Heck, for so many of our members, it's already like that.

People must think that being annoying on their phones is something other people do. They just don't see it in themselves. The real estate agent who was barking into her phone while on the treadmill at lunchtime? You'd have thought our staff person had a second head growing out of his shoulder when he asked her to hang up or move to the lobby. Her response was basically, "Me? Lil' ol' me? I'm not bothering anyone, and I am not giving up my workout time. Oh, and this is a private conversation, so please remove yourself."

And that's a point that violators of our policy fail to understand. These most definitely are not private conversations. If they were, we wouldn't be worried about them because we'd have no knowledge of them. The reason we know about them is because they're actually very public conversations. We can hear the deal you're making. We can hear that your husband has made you furious. We can hear that you're cheating on said husband. We can hear that your kid is in rehab again. We can hear it all because - wait for it - YOU'RE SHOUTING IT ALL INTO YOUR PHONE.

HANGING UP? People must be unaware of this reality, because many of our members also seem to believe that our lobby is somehow private - otherwise they would never speak with such colorful language. Yet f-bombs, bull-you-know-whats and rhymes-with-hitch are common among members freed from the shackles of the no-cell-phone areas.

Here's another sign we could post in our lobby: Just because you can talk on your phone in our lobby doesn't mean that we can't hear you. Trust us, we'd rather not be able to, but we can and we do.

So, we try to find serenity in accepting something we can't change. We'll keep trying to change it - "I'm sorry, sir, could you please take your conversation off the workout floor" and "Oh, I'm sorry, can you please put your phone away in the locker room? We worry about privacy for our members" - but the truth is the horse has left the barn and it isn't coming back. Phones are no longer phones. Nobody is going to give up his or her "life companion" without a fight, and the fight just isn't worth it to us.

We don't want to lose members over this, and we think our more well-behaved and reasonable members will help us police the most egregious offenders.

But just in case, we'll keep saying the Serenity Prayer.

Rob Bishop & Barry Klein is Guest Contributors of Athletic Business.
As a corporate fitness center we do not have any paying members, we are an employee benefit so we have a little more control. With the 24/7 pace of the web, our writers and staff often need a place to get away from the web/print business and decompress - we would like to think that our in house fitness center is a place they can do this. Very simple - if Tim Forbes (Owner) or Mike Perlis (President & CEO) don't need to be on the phone in the Center - you don't! Music yes of course - conversations, no way. During our registration process, employees are informed of our cell phone policy in writing, and acknowledge this by their signature. Failure to comply results in a warning and then loss of privilege. Let's focus on the courage to change the things we can!
Absolutely hate when people use their cell phones at the gym, annoying! The worst- sitting on a machine dinking around with the cell phone when others would like to use the same machine. Ask them if they are using the machine and they just look at you and continue with whatever it is they are doing on their phone. I've even seen people sit down on a machine and then get up when they are done with their cell phone and never use the machine!
Bruce A. Sherman, Ph.D. Thursday, 08 August 2013
I agree with Andy 100%. When at the gym I do not have the time to wait for someone to finish a conversation or find the next best song on on their mobile device. If I encounter someone using their mobile device on a machine I would like to use, I usually get right to the point, "If you are going to use that 'thing,' get off!" Short and sweet and I always get my way!
This is my Nov 4, 2014 article on Life Time Gym. Cell Phones should not be in Locker Rooms!

I go to Life Time Fitness in Las Vegas, NV, they are based out of MN, and there are 112 gyms nationwide.
There is no protection of privacy for people of all ages. They are not taking minimum affirmative steps to protect against privacy rights violations.

Life Time Fitness is encouraging cell phone use, and you can see members and employees near locker room attendants on cell phones, and even one locker room attendants, making personal calls or ?. You cannot say if they are texting or talking, or taking pictures or video. There is no way of knowing. states difficult to determine if your picture is taken because you're unaware.
Lot of good information.
video shows LTF gym video while people showering, and captures guy taking picture while videoing.

Please see my CNN I REPORT. I would like my story on CNN so to protect other gym
Very important, gym members are making the revelation, that it is NOT possible to know if photography and video is happening while other members are visibly using their cell phones, and the more visible devices are present, the more greater the risk presents.
Gym members do not have the level of sophistication and time to search the internet because postings can go on any search engine, any year, accessible by unique tags at that time, and doing such searches is an ugly task for the average person. Luckily, majority pictures and video taken will only be for private collections.

Also, members are realizing no one can be trusted when on cell phones. My observation is that most members on cell phones keep towels very tight around them, because they are aware they have the ability to take pictures, and those not using cell phones are often fully nude, truly unaware of the risk of picture and video taking.however, the gym locker room attendant that does not enforce the no cell phone policy makes the judgment that the member using the cell phone is safe to other members.

June 12: Man dressed sitting with legs in hot tub is taking pictures; I report this to Brian Frankwick Regional manager for NV, AZ, CA, and Manger for Summerlin. Locker Room attendants said this man taking pictures works at Life Time. Brian Frankwick said he will address issue next day at meeting. I suggested hanging up more signs, and enforce their policy. Brian Frankwick never did anything.

July 17 Meeting with Brian Frankwick (manger of LTF Summerlin, and Regional Manager for NV, AZ, CA). He said he would put up No Cell Phone/No recording device sign at TV, Sinks, Hot Tub, will send out email blast reminding members of policy and educating them on the risks, will have employees sign policy and expectations to enforce policy. None of this ever happened.

I told Life Time Fitness about my observations in the hot tub while men sitting at the towel dry off area and naked boys are present, and their fathers are either in the showers or at the sinks, unaware of environment. Cannot tell if texting or taking pictures.
I told Life Time Fitness that Apple I Phone photographs and videotapes on each side, that a man had cell phone 1 foot from my butt as I put on underwear at the lockers, that men pick up their phones and text and talk while we are all standing at the sinks with and without towels around our waists.