Don’t be the guy at the gym who annoys everyone.
It’s that time of year when people stream into gyms like ants marching toward a drop of honey. Many of those people are complete newbies, or haven’t touched a weight since high school gym. So for the sake of all of the regulars who will experience extra frustration at this time of year and the trainers who spend most of their time in the gym, I thought I’d provide the newbies with a basic guide to gym etiquette, as well as a reminder for those of you who may have gotten a bit lazy.
PUT YOUR WEIGHTS BACK
No, those dumbbells don’t belong on the floor, tossed carelessly near the bench where you were using them. They belong on the dumbbell rack, which is arranged from the lightest weights to the heaviest. So please don’t put your 10 pound dumbbells next to the 60 pound dumbbell. Thanks!
UNLOAD YOUR BARBELLS
Yeah, you’re awesome, bench-pressing your weight and squatting a couple of times that amount. When you’re done your workout, it’s nice to put all those plates back on the plate rack or plate tree where they belong. That way the 5-foot-tall, 100-pound lady after you doesn’t have to strain her back putting YOUR plates back. We’re all in a hurry, but if you load the bar up you should unload it again too.
CLEAN YOUR BENCH
It’s a gym so you’re going to (hopefully) get sweaty. Leaving a little deluge behind when you finishing with the weight bench – NOT cool. Any decent gym will have paper towels and disinfectant so take a few seconds to erase the memory of your sweaty back and head from that bench.
DON’T RELY ON YOUR TRAINER
If you have a trainer it’s important to remember that you haven’t hired her to be your personal slave in the gym. Your trainer is responsible for designing a safe and effective program to guide you to your goals and to take you through that exercise routine.
That means that you can’t expect your trainer to run around putting your weights back, unloading your barbells, and cleaning your bench after you’ve had a particularly filthy workout. She’ll be busy recording your weights for the session and timing your rest periods, so make sure you clean up after yourself. Consider the extra lifting part of your workout!
WASH YOUR WORKOUT CLOTHES
This seems obvious, but you’d be surprised by the number of people who workout and then throw their clothes back in the locker for their next session. Clothes need to be washed after EVERY workout or you’ll be the guy at the gym that everyone gives a large radius to.
Workout shoes also need to be washed periodically or they’ll develop a very rancid stench. Especially if you throw them in your locker after your session, and don’t take the insoles out to dry once in a while.
LET PEOPLE WORK IN
Hogging the squat rack for an hour, while 3 people stand around impatiently with hands on hips, isn’t cool. If you have very specific rest periods (and anyone with a well-designed workout plan probably should) then let others wanting to use the equipment know, and then assist them with working in (ie. helping them adjust the weight to what they need).
Most people have a limited time period in which to work out, and don’t appreciate being interrupted. If someone’s wearing headphones and grunting through their last rep of a 400-pound bench press, it’s unlikely that they want to get into a serious discussion with you about that movie you saw on the weekend. Let people do their workout, and you do yours.
What if you’re the one who keeps getting interrupted? Wear headphones (even if you’re not playing any music), avoid eye contact with anything but the next weight you’re going to lift, and move quickly from one exercise/area to the next. If you look focused, you’re less likely to get bothered. If someone does attempt what looks to be a long conversation, politely excuse yourself with “Sorry, gotta start my next set”.
SET THE TONE
Not every gym has the same level of etiquette, which becomes a source of frustration for those of us raised with manners. Follow the guidelines above and you’ll be setting an example and making yourself a welcome member of any gym. Not the guy that everyone gives dirty looks to.