One of my biggest pet peeves is being at the gym with someone who has terrible gym etiquette. You may ask yourself what constitutes as gym etiquette? The gym is almost like golf in the fact that there are some unwritten rules that many expect you to know even though there are no posted signs saying so. You must remember, unless you have your own personal gym, the gym you go to has all walks of life. Just because you are ok with something doesn’t mean everyone around you will be as accepting. If you have no idea about gym etiquette, no worries! I will give you 7 gym etiquette rules that may not be obviously known by all, but should be followed by everyone.
1. When In Doubt, Always Ask
I can’t tell you how many times I have seen someone that doesn’t know how to use a machine and rather than asking someone that works at the gym or researching how to use a machine, they go ahead and do whatever they think the machine is supposed to do; you could risk serious injury to yourself! Machines are made to be used in specific ways and doing your own made-up workout that has never been seen before is a bad idea. Another situation where it is good to ask before you act is when you need something next to someone working out. Do not just go and pick up whatever you need. This could distract the person working out and if they are lifting heavy weight, this could be particularly dangerous.
2. Put Your Weights Back Where You Found Them
Humans are creatures of habit. We hate when we have a system and suddenly it changes. We can adapt quickly, but who wants to worry about that every time you go workout. If you borrow weights or equipment from somewhere, put them back where you found them. This will make your workout experience better because the next time you come to the gym you will know where your equipment is and you will not mess up for everyone else. Also – people watch each other in the gym. Every time you put your weights back, someone is watching. That person will most likely do the same. Before you know it, it will become a culture to put things back where they belong and it all started with YOU!
3. Be Aware of Your Surroundings
As you can see from the previous two points, there is a common theme about being aware of things you do as it pertains to you and others. Which brings me to my third point. Be aware of your surroundings! Gyms can be a very dangerous, especially during the busiest times of the day. Many areas of a gym can become congested with people trying to do the same workout and when you need to make it to another part of the gym, navigating can become strenuous. The worst thing you can do is bump into someone while they are lifting heavy weights, so if you must get by someone while they are lifting, just wait till they are done with their lift and then proceed. This type of courtesy is also contagious — and soon you will see others exercising patience (no pun intended) while others are performing their lift.
4. Use Your Towel
We love to go to the gym and sweat! That is the definition of a good workout, right? Everyone else sweats too, so that can only mean one thing: germs. Countless studies have been conducted focusing around how many germs are present at an average gym. The studies found that equipment found at some gyms have more germs than your toilet seat and out of all the equipment at the gym, bacteria love steel. So protect yourself and everyone around you and wipe down the equipment before and after use. If your gym does not have disinfectant wipes, ask that they start providing them. Disinfectant wipes make a huge difference.
5. Limit the Phone Use, aka Selfies
We live in a digital world now and I completely understand why people need their phone on them at all times. That being said, there are times and places for phone use. If you need to make a call, simply step out of the workout area to do so. Walking a few feet and giving everyone space is more beneficial than annoying everyone around you with your fantasy football conversation. The age of the selfie is also upon us. Before and after pics are great. Showing how jacked you have gotten in the past month is encouraging. Just be mindful of your surroundings when taking the pictures. I recommend you do this when the gym is very slow, to avoid taking pictures of people that don’t want to be in them and to avoid distracting the focused gym goer who may only have 30 minutes to get their workout in.
6. Don’t Hog the Gym Equipment
This rule especially pertains to busy times at the gym. You may love a particular machine or have a concentrated workout on certain muscle groups, but most gyms don’t have enough of the same machines to satisfy everyone. Most weight lifting exercises are done in sets and you don’t need to do 10 sets of any exercise. Please do not spend 30 min on one machine devising new workouts — especially if the gym is busy. If you absolutely need to get a certain workout in, see if there is any other way you could correctly accomplish this workout or move on to another exercise and come back to the machine when it is open.
7. Enthusiasm is Great, Temper it
I am an emotional person. When I work out, I like to get myself pumped up. Getting pumped up does have its limitations though, especially at a public gym. You may be training to become the next USA Olympic Weightlifting Champion , but likely the dad just trying to do some simple curls next to you isn’t. Yelling into the mirror or screaming after you beat your squat PR is encouraged , just temper it and please do not scream after each set performed.
Most gyms have rules posted throughout the facility, but there are a lot of unwritten gym etiquette rules that are not posted. The biggest thing to remember is to be mindful of your surroundings and the people working out around you. Not everyone is going to follow the rules.
Following good gym etiquette you will make the workout experience better for yourself and more importantly, everyone around you!
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