The Washington Post

Ask Amy: Gym members sweat their dilemma

DEAR AMY: Some friends and I are members of a pretty no-nonsense gym. The majority of the members are hardcore athletes who train for upcoming marathons, while the rest of us are more “well-upholstered” Midwesterners trying to get fit.

There is a problem with one gym member, and we cannot seem to agree on how to handle it. In the area where the treadmills, elliptical machines and rowers are located, there are ceiling fans that provide some respite from the stuffiness.

One woman turns all of the fans off every time she enters the area. We are reluctant to say anything to her because she clearly has “issues.” She’s extremely emaciated; I assume she has an eating disorder. She comes to workout in a hooded sweatshirt, yet makes very little effort on the machinery. While the rest of us are sweating up a storm, she is casually reading her magazine, checking messages, etc. Meanwhile, those of us actually exerting ourselves would love to have the additional circulation provided by the fans!

We are not sure how to handle this. We don’t want to cause any undue angst to someone who clearly is struggling. But by the same token, “majority rules” should certainly hold up for a room full of sweating people!

We are trying to be sympathetic but are really sweating this one. How should we handle this? -- Losing It

DEAR LOSING: Having “issues” or an eating disorder does not make this person in charge of the very air moving through a public area. You can assume that her extreme thinness may make her feel cold all the time.

You are all obviously very nice, kind Midwesterners. You should have a secret locker room meeting and elect the most courageous among you to approach her.

I’m kidding. I elect you to put down your barbell and be brave enough to walk over to her, make eye contact, smile and say: “Hi, it’s really too hot in here to keep the fans off, so I’d like to turn them back on. Is that okay?” And you reach over and flip the switch.

She might be as nice and kind as you are, and once the will of the majority is made clear, she might be happy to comply for the sake of the greater comfort.

DEAR AMY: I am a mental health counselor and want to reply to your response to “Distraught,” whose 38-year-old daughter seemed to be descending into mental illness. Your advice did not go far enough.

My late mother also had a devastating mental illness for more than 50 years. “Distraught” and other supportive family members and friends should make an appointment for themselves with a qualified mental health counselor. They need support and information about what the daughter’s symptoms mean, and they need a plan. The symptoms and situation can and will improve with proper treatment. Supportive family involvement is essential to a good outcome, and we are here to help. -- Know Mental Illness Well

DEAR KNOW: Great advice. Thank you so much.

DEAR AMY: I totally agree with your response to “Two Desperate Friends.” You stated, “Friends tell each other the truth, and then friends stick around for the aftermath.”

I had a best friend years ago (25 or so). One day he asked me if I thought he was doing right to marry his girlfriend. I was as kind as I could be, but I told him no, and I told him why (as diplomatically as I could).

Our friendship cooled gradually after that, and we have not spoken in years. My wife thinks I should have told him what he wanted to hear. I told her I have not one moment of regret. I did exactly what I would have expected of him — to tell your friend the truth.

These folks are still married and it is a perfect relationship — give and take. He gives and she takes. But it works for them. -- Rick in Bethlehem, Pa.

DEAR RICK: You treated your friend as you would want him to treat you.

Write to Amy Dickinson at or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

by the Chicago Tribune

Distributed by Tribune Media Services



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