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There is no doubt that the gym can be an intimidating environment for some gym-goers, especially when you are just getting started on your fitness journey. There is nothing worse than doing something you are not supposed to be doing at the gym. For example, accidentally doing something rude, or being the person who makes everyone else uncomfortable. If having proper gym etiquette is one of the main reasons why attending a gym may sound intimidating, don’t worry. We are here to give you a couple of the most important gym etiquette rules, the unspoken rules, and advice. Some of these rules may vary by the gym, but the majority is a universal standards. We will cover anything from squat racks, personal space, gym equipment, weights, dumbbells, plates, the barbell, locker room, lifting, and more.
Read the Gym’s Etiquette Rules
First and for most, read the rules at your gym! Every gym has different etiquette rules they go by, so make sure to educate yourself on them before going. Believe me; it will save you a lot of embarrassment and will encourage you to come back to work on your health and fitness.
Put Equipment Away After Using it
Gyms can get quite crowded as it is, especially during peak hours. It is always nice to keep gym areas clean and put equipment away in the weight room for gym etiquette. There is nothing worse than trying to find a space to work out and finding lots of weights, dumbbells, plates, among other equipment scattered around on the floor. The downside of not putting gym equipment back up is that other people cannot find the equipment they need to exercise later on. The equipment could also be misplaced; instead of using that time to work out and exercise, you waste time looking for equipment.
Do Not Hog the Machines
With so many gym-goers being at the same place simultaneously, there are only so many machines people can use. When you go to the gym, try to use machines time efficiently and within a reasonable time span. There is nothing wrong with taking a small break, but do not sit on equipment for hours. Remember, other people are waiting to use them, so give people the respect they deserve. also. If you see someone waiting, be sure to let them know when you will be done.
Do Not Hog the Equipment
Just like the machines, hogging equipment like dumbbells, bars, weights, etc., can be very irritating to a person who may also want to use that piece of equipment for their exercise. Try not to take five different types of dumbells that you will only use for a short amount of time during an hour-long session. Just grab one or two at a time, complete that set, and then rerack them. That way, people do not have to wait because you allow them to use the equipment before having to use it yourself instead of just letting it sit next to you on a bench with nobody.
Unrack Weights on the Squat Rack
When using the squat rack, it is easy to forget to unrack the plates because of how tired you might be by the end of your session. Most of us have probably broken this rule once or twice by accident, but try to incorporate it as part of your workout. That way, you will never forget to take the weights off the rack and put the weights back. Remember, not everyone can lift or squat as much as you, so they might not be able to unrack the weights themselves, making those machines useless to them for the rest of their workout.
Be Aware of Your Surroundings
Available empty gym floor space can be limited, especially at crowded gyms, so you need to be aware of the people who move around you when finding one. It is easy for us to sometimes get too into our workouts that we tend to forget others might be working out close to us. Always be alert of who is around you; one wrong move, and you could end up seriously injuring someone else accidentally.
Give Others Space
There is nothing worse than having someone be too close to you, giving you little personal space to exercise. Also, do not stand around waiting for people to stop using a piece of equipment you may need. Standing in front of someone can make them feel uncomfortable and rushed during their workout. One good piece of advice is to try to find something else to do nearby and give them their personal space while using that machine or piece of equipment and weights. You can then approach them once they are done using it. This way, you will not make them feel uncomfortable or pressured, and you will also be using your time wisely by getting your workout in at the same time.
Do Not Play Your Music Outloud
Wearing headphones can be very uncomfortable and inconvenient. Having to deal with wires or earphones popping out of your ears is simply annoying during workouts. Some people think it is okay to play their music out loud instead of just dealing with using headphones. Although it might be more comfortable to play the music out loud, it can be just as distracting and annoying to those working out around you. Even though we would like to believe our musical taste to be the best, not everyone has the same taste in music as you. It can be portrayed as disrespectful and inconsiderate to others when blasting your music for your own convenience. It is better to invest in some good wireless headphones or find another way to entertain yourself while working out. Good gym etiquette is showing respect to others, and they will do the same in return.
Get Off Your Phone
It comes naturally to us to use our phones all the time; we tend to unconsciously glance at the screen, check for notifications, mindlessly look at social media, etc., because of how easy it is for us to obtain access. Although it might be tempting, try to use your phone as little as possible and only for things like changing the song you are listening to, turn up the volume, or whatever else that may be necessary. It is okay to take a break, but the more you use your phone during your workout, the less time you spend actually doing the exercises.
Sitting on a machine looking at your phone instead of doing exercises can also take time from a person who may want to use the gym equipment as well. Just remember to be respectful and use your time efficiently. Working out should be for you; those notifications can wait until after your workout routine is done.
People might be making use of more than one piece of equipment or weights at a time, so if you see a piece of equipment near someone else, make sure to ask if they are using it before grabbing it. To avoid awkward misunderstandings or a potential accident.
Wipe Down Every Piece of Equipment After Using it
At a gym, it is normal for you to sweat. Therefore, leaving sweat marks on a machine is completely normal and happens to everyone. For hygiene purposes and consideration of others, make sure to wipe down your equipment after using it. Several cleaning stations can easily be found at every corner of most gyms, and it takes less than a minute to wipe equipment down. If there is nothing to wipe with, make sure to let staff know for future users and use a towel for the time being.
Avoid Small Talk
Most people go to the gym to focus on their health and fitness o forget about the stress of the week or any other problems they may be having. If you are a regular at your local gym, it is typical for you to find a friend or acquaintance along the way. Do say hi to someone if you recognize them, but try not to take much of their time as some may be in a rush having to go somewhere right after, or they may want to have a little me-time, and going to the gym is the only time they get to do so.
Get to Class on Time
Group fitness classes are a fun way to get your workout in and get to know more people. The only downside to attending classes is that you have to get there on time or disrupt the class. Arriving late to a fitness class will not only be awkward for you but it can also be seen as rude by someone who is in the flow of a workout and suddenly gets interrupted. If you are a person who is never on time, try to book a class 30 minutes to an hour before you plan to arrive that way you will always be early and may even have time to talk to people before class starts and catch up without disrupting. You can also have a little extra time to get a quick workout in.
Dress for Success
Wearing the wrong clothes can negatively impact your training or cause injuries. Make sure your clothes are not too loose, or they will get in the way of your workout. Also, make sure your clothes are not too tight because they can cause difficulty breathing, can give you cramps, or rub against your skin. Avoid wearing jewelry while at the gym; it can get stuck on something or even injure you. Most important of all, wear the proper shoes. Wearing worn-out shoes can affect the alignment of your keens, feet, and hips, which may cause potential injuries or strains. Try wearing clothing that is dry fit or meant for sweat; using all-cotton clothing could damage your clothing.
Do not Hang in the Middle of the Hallway
Most people tend to get in the zone and get lost in their workout while at the gym. Try not to stand or wait in the middle of the hallways. You might be in the way of someone’s path and may even cause an accident. Do not lean next to machines you are not using. Someone may assume the machine is not vacant and will prevent them from using it. This may interrupt their workout flow.
Having a gym locker room can be convenient because you can save time by cleaning off the sweat and shower right after doing your exercises. You can also store your gym bags or any extra stuff you may have brought. The locker room can also be an uncomfortable place. To avoid any awkward moments, here are a few essential tips to go by. Also, if you are the uncomfortable type, don’t forget a towel to cover yourself up.
First and foremost, ask if using the gym lockers is free of charge. Most gyms allow their members to use the lockers for free, but some do charge per day or by membership status. Some gyms may have locks for you to use, but some require you to bring your own lock and key, so make sure to ask.
Not everyone is comfortable with changing clothes in front of other people, especially in an environment in a gym where fitness is involved. Make sure you are giving people their own personal space while they are changing to avoid making them uncomfortable or yourself. Also, avoid starring at people. It will definitely make both them and you uncomfortable. Just remember to respect people’s personal space at all times.
Additionally, be sure to keep your distance while working out to ensure the safety and health of others in the gym around you.
With all the mirrors and good lighting, it is easy to take pictures in the locker room, but many people forget that mirrors can also be tricky. Taking in the fact that this room is meant for people to take showers, change clothing, etc. Make sure that you are looking at your surroundings before taking a picture and double-checking the background before posting. You can accidentally expose someone without meaning to, and nobody likes unconsented photos.
Keep in mind that the locker rooms are for everyone’s use, not just your own. Remember to clean up after yourself and do not leave your towel or personal objects lying around. Please bring your own body care as well because some gyms may not provide any for their members. Respect other people’s personal stuff. If a shampoo bottle is left behind, it does not mean it is free for you to use, so make sure to ask before grabbing anything.
Use Your Time Efficiently
The locker rooms can be so big, so they can tend to get crowded, especially during peak hours. Try to use your time efficiently and not spend hours looking at yourself in the mirror or taking long showers. Someone might be trying to use the same amenities, so please make sure you are considering others.
The gym can be a very intimidating place for many people, so avoid commenting on people’s appearance or form if they did not ask for your input. Even if they are not meant to be insulting, comments can be taken differently by different people. Comments can affect others and even make them not want to return to the gym. So, if you have nothing nice to say, then do not say anything at all. Hurtful comments are not okay and can really hurt someone’s self-esteem. Fitness and wellness should be a scene for encouragement and body positivity, so please keep the negativity out.
Saying hurtful comments can lead to someone giving up and could potentially mess with someone’s mental health. If you do not have something nice to say, don’t say it at all.
Gym etiquette is one of the most important things for attending a gym, so following these couple of rules can really give you a successful start in your fitness journey. Remember that all gyms have different rules they go by, so make sure you read them fully beforehand. Overall, take my advice and try to be respectful of others, and use time efficiently. We want to prevent you from having any awkward moments and encourage you to return. Make life easier for yourself and others; be respectful of others, put weights back, wipe after you’re done, and kick butt.
Want to read more? Check out Health and Fitness Tip from ben Christian of Pro Fitness.
Story by Fernanda Tronco, Campus Live Intern