There is a small problem at my gym: people do not put their weights back. I know, it seems minor (and not really socially significant); however, doing so is at least courteous to other gym members in search of weights for their exercises. We are more efficient in our workouts if we can find the weights we need in the spots designated for them. I see 25 lbs weights in the 10 lbs slot, 15 lbs weights on the floor in various corners and plates of different sizes all mixed up on the plate tree. Of course, the plate I need is the one furthest in.
As I go searching for the weights I need, I find myself organizing the others onto their assigned rack. I perform this match-to-sample exercise most days and I would like to teach others how to do the same. Assuming a skill deficit, a match to sample program would involve teaching the weight lifter to orient to the number on the weight he or she just used and find its match among an array of other numbers on the dumbbell rack or plate tree. I may assist at first e.g., pointing in the direction of the weight, calling out the weight number as a friendly reminder. Or I might position myself in front of an incorrect location; thus, decreasing likelihood an error will be made. Once the weight is put into its correct spot (i.e. a match is made), I would provide live feedback: “Thank you for putting your weight back. This means others can find the weight where they expect to see it.” After a few successful rounds, I may increase my distance, level of support and/or rate of reinforcement.
In all liklihood, what I just described would never happen. The human resources required to run such a program for what seems like a minor nuisance may not be socially valid. But, I would like to say that our eye rolls and shakes of the head when we happen upon a messy weight area clearly aren’t working either. Some food for thought out there if a gym and its members are serious about changing people’s habits.