What is Proper Gym Etiquette (or Gymtiquette)?
It’s January and the gym is crowded with new year’s resolutioners who have either just joined or are actually using their gym memberships now. I get so pumped when people invest in their physical fitness and are putting in the time. It’s so important to take care of ones health. However, it is also important to make sure you’re abiding by the rules so that everyone can get their pump on as seamlessly as possible. So what is proper gym etiquette or gymtiquette (say that 10 times fast!)? Some gym etiquette rules are common sense and others are just ones that you don’t learn until you’ve been there for awhile. So what’s a newbie to do when they don’t know the rules that long-time gym members abide by? They check out Buddha Belly! Keep reading for the deets!
Now gym etiquette changes from gym to gym so you have to pay attention to the culture of your surroundings, but the below rules are typical of most gyms.
Rerack those weights. I am not your mother and I don’t want to clean up after you. If you take free weights out put them back in their spots. If you rack a barbell on the squat machine or chest press make sure to take them all off. Not only do I not want to waste my precious workout time taking these weights off sometimes I literally can’t because they’re too heavy for me. People don’t want to spend time searching around for the 10 lbs dumbbell you forgot to put back and if you are a constant perpetrator of this you will eventually be recognized as such. That’s not the kind of reputation you want to spread.
Don’t hit on people at the gym. Now this is probably going to be a controversial rule with some of my readers so just wait a second before forming an opinion. Sometimes there is a time and place for flirting with people at the gym and what better place to find like-minded individuals to date than where you spend a great deal of your time? I’m totally with you on that. The behavior that I’m talking about is men and women who pester another individual who is very obviously just there to workout. If you hop up next to the cardio bunny on the treadmills and start speaking to her and she answers politely and goes to put back in her earbud leave her alone. Make sure you are taking cues that gym goers are sending and if they seem to want to be left alone then let them finish their workout in peace.
If you’re sick stay at home. If you have a respiratory infection or anything else that’s inhibiting your breathing you shouldn’t be working out anyways, but if you’re sick stay at home and do some body weight workout stuff. I know it can feel super shitty to be off your workout schedule, but don’t come to the gym sick and infect everyone else like a zombie plague. Even if you don’t look sick, but you feel sick keep your booty at home because karma is a thing.
Ask questions. If you don’t know if someone is using a machine or not just ask. If you don’t know how to use a piece of equipment take advantage of the free training session most gyms offer. Don’t be afraid to look like a newbie because we’ve all been there and most people will help you out.
Let people work in with you. If you’re on a machine and someone else needs to use it let them work in with you. That means allowing them to work between your sets and you work between theirs. It lets you both complete your scheduled workouts, you wouldn’t be on it at the time anyways and you may make a new gym friend! That being said if someone is already working in with someone else and there’s two people already to the equipment don’t ask to join in. That will end up taking way too much time and cut into their sets. Go find another piece of machinery that will work the same muscle group or find something else to do while you’re waiting.
Wipe down the machines. I really don’t care if people aren’t sweating and don’t wipe down the machines, but I know a lot of people do. However, if you’re sweating and you use a piece of equipment just take 2 minutes to wipe it down for the next person. It’s courteous and doesn’t take a lot of time. No one wants to sit down at a machine only to feel someone else’s sweat on their back. Gross.
Don’t take up a ton of space. It’s fine to set up your own little section where you’re lifting weights, doing core work, etc., but don’t spread out more than you have to. It’s a communal area that you’re all sharing and you wouldn’t want someone else to leave you with no space so don’t do it to other people.
Don’t crowd other people. This one is piggybacking off of the above rule, but don’t crowd someone else. If someone has their own area set up and isn’t taking up a huge amount of space then wait until there’s more space or find somewhere else to go. It’s super annoying when you’re trying to plank and you have someone breathing down your neck and doing kettlebell swings right by your head. If they are taking up a ton of space kindly ask them if they could move over a bit to make space for you.
Don’t set up in front of someone who’s using the mirror. If someone is within a couple feet from being in front of the mirror and are obviously using it to check their form do not set up in front of them. Form is important. If they don’t seem like they are using the mirror and you need it just ask them nicely if they’re using it. I know it can be awkward to talk to strangers for some people, but it’s going to be a lot more awkward if you piss off the guy who can squat 400 lbs.
Use your headphones. Everyone has different musical tastes and even if I like the music you’re listening to I want to listen to my own. The gym is no place for you to bring your portable speakers or play your music from your cell phone without headphones. This is my number one pet peeve. I’m trying to be nerdy, damnit, and listen to my audiobook and if all I can hear is your Lady Gaga it’s going to be a rough time for you. Now we all know Lady Gaga is queen, but my point still stands.
Don’t have extended phone conversations. The above goes for this as well, I don’t want to hear an hour long conversation with your mother while I’m stuck on the stairmaster next to you. Everyone needs to take a quick call now and then, but the gym really isn’t the place to chat on the phone. You are usually being louder than you realize and I don’t care about how evil Chris was and how he gave you an STD (true story).
Don’t hog machines. Everyone needs to get their workouts done. Take rests your allotted rest times, but please don’t just sit on a machine texting for half an hour.
Don’t take all the weights, bands, balls, etc. Circuit training is a fantastic workout. It allows you to strength train and get some cardio in because it keeps your heart rate up, but it can take a lot of equipment. If you need to do some circuit training then go to a class or make sure it’s on a day/time when it’s less busy. When there’s only two sets of 15 lbs dumbbells it’s really frustrating when someone takes them, along with the 10’s and the 5’s and they don’t come back for an hour. Circuit training also usually takes up a ton of space which is another reason it should be done at less busy times.
Have fun! I know I sound like a cranky, gym monster who hasn’t had enough coffee (or perhaps too much preworkout) and a lot of these seem common knowledge, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t know proper gym etiquette. Most of all though you should be having fun because the workouts that are fun are the ones that keep you working out and that is the most important thing.
I hope you like my tips on proper gym etiquette. Anything that you think I missed and should be added to the list? Let me know by sounding out below and make sure to share with your friends. Also, check out my posts on why compound lifts are the bee’s knees and what accessory lifts are and why you should be doing them right now!