Gym etiquette can be tricky, but stick to these tips and you’ll be a much-loved member.
From seasoned veterans to newbies, all gym users should be aware of the most basic do’s and don’ts while working up a sweat.
To the old hands – no excuses. You should’ve worked out what’s expected and what’s frowned upon ages ago.
To those joining a gym for the first time it can be a tad daunting. Finding the changing rooms, figuring out the damn machines, remembering the workout and now you’re telling me there’s etiquette?
Wait! Don’t leave.
It’s very simple.
The most important thing to remember is that it’s not your gym. Unfortunately other people also get to use it.
With this in mind it’s really quite easy – just try not to be an annoying, selfish buffoon!
Here are the key points to keep on top of:
- Wipe down machines or equipment after using them. This should be self-explanatory, especially given the current climate but…some forget or just can’t be bothered. People will notice if you don’t and it could lead to a lifetime of social ostracism. Besides – would you want to lie on a stranger’s pool of sweat?
- Replace weights and/or weight plates. Again, fairly obvious but this is a real faux pas. If using a barbell, put the weight plates back on the rack so it’s all nice and ready to go for the next person. Similarly with dumbbells and other equipment. Putting them back isn’t just helpful but the gym floor can start to resemble a mine field with hapless souls tumbling over discarded weights.
- Watch the clock! Being “in the zone” is great, being in your own private time zone not so much. If you’re using a machine or bench at a busy time of day it’s considered polite to take no more than 20 minutes. What! I can’t fully blast my quads in that time – I need at least 8 sets…sorry, no you don’t. If you really need more than 20 minutes on any exercise you’re either doing too many sets or your breaks are too long which are both ineffective.
Keep an eye on the time and if a queue starts forming around you like the entrance to Tokyo Disneyland then it’s time to wind things up. This is especially true for the more popular attractions such as treadmills, Smith machines and benches/squat racks.
- Grunting with effort is normal, screaming is silly. Tennis officials agree and have stamped down high decibel theatrics over the years. Which is good because to be frank – it’s a pain in the arse to listen to. Grunting when heaving weights means strong exhalation which can help you lift more. By exhaling fully you’re also helping to maintain healthy blood pressure levels during exercise.
However screaming while doing some 10kg dumbbell curls is not just unnecessary, it’s embarrassing. And irritating. If you’re in a hard-core powerlifting sweat house then maybe nobody blinks an eye, but in a regular gym it’s a bad look.
*in the bedroom of course, grunting loudly is perfectly acceptable – especially if you’re with someone else.
- Small talk is nice, no talk is better. How cold! But no. This one requires some sharp social awareness so unfortunately it escapes some. The majority of people coming to a gym are stretched for time and this is their precious “me time” to get in a great workout and be out of there. Engaging in idle chit chat about the best place to buy pet food isn’t high on most people’s workout priority lists. Especially if they’re halfway through a 100kg squat while you’re talking to them. Of course if you want to talk and it seems they do as well then by all means go for it! Just be aware of subtle cues, such as someone averting eye contact and backing away from you.
- No hogs please. Using a machine is great but using two at the same time is well…greedy. If you’re doing supersets (1 exercise followed immediately by another) then at least make one of the exercises machine-free. Bodyweight or dumbbells, you get the idea. Unless the gym’s completely deserted – go crazy!
Of course you probably already knew these but it’s nice to get everyone on the same page. Once you’ve left the gym, feel free to engage others in conversation and to grunt – within reason, of course.
Happy gym -happy society.