So you made a New Year’s resolution to get in shape. That’s a good decision. Clichéd, but good. Here’s the problem, though: it’s been a while since you went to the gym on a regular basis. (When did Friends go off the air again?) As a result, you’re a little rusty on the dos and don’ts of gym etiquette.
That’s where we come in. You see, contrary to popular belief, we sports bloggers aren’t slobs with no athletic ability who sit around in our mothers’ basements in our underwear. We’re actually incredibly fit—all of us. We totally know what reps and lats and fitbits are. (They’re protein snacks, right?) So we can help you out with the basics of gym etiquette.
Let’s stop wasting time and get to it, shall we?
When it comes to gym equipment being left out in a state of total disarray, the biggest problem is always the hand weights. Many people are too lazy (and, by extrapolation, stupid and inconsiderate) to put the things back on the rack where they belong. Don't be one of those people.
The same rule applies to other equipment., too Exercise balls, jump ropes, towels, whatever—always put it back where is belongs. Period.
15. Put It Back Where You Got It
This one is so incredibly obvious. Do you want to sit or lie down in a pool of somebody else's sweat? Right. Well neither does anyone else. And while I hate to get all Kantian on you here, this means you have a categorical imperative to wipe that sh*t up before you leave.
Every gym does it different. Some have spray bottles and paper towels for you to use. Others have Lysol. Others still are more laid back and happy if you mop up your bodily fluids with a towel. Whatever the case, if you're not a huge a**hole, you'll get it done.
14. Wipe It Down
Oh, did you forget your deodorant today? Well then, kindly GTFO.
Nope, I'm serious. Leave. No deodorant = no exercise. What do you think this is? A bus in Italy in July? (Seriously, Italians wear wool all year round. It's crazy.)
13. Deodorant: Always
Look, you don't want to be one of those weirdos who refuses to change at the gym. However, do keep in mind that all locker room nudity must be (1) utilitarian and (b) minimalist. The removal of clothing is sanctioned for the purposes of cleansing and outfitting yourself in street clothes only. Under no circumstances shall you wander around the dressing room fully nude or attempt to start a conversation. Even if—nay, especially if—you are Ryan Gosling.
This is not Ancient Greece. Dry off, put your pants on, and go home.
12. No Excessive Locker Room Nudity
Starting up conversations at the gym is always somewhat risky. People are there to work out, not socialize. They have places to go and people so see.
This is not to say you shouldn't ever talk to people. But before you try it, remain silent for a few weeks and observe how others do it. You don't want to break somebody's stride or make the lose count while they're doing a set.
And always, always respect the headphones. If the headphones are on, they might as well have hung a "DO NOT DISTURB" sign on their nose.
11. Headphone = STFU
It's perfectly fine to use your phone to listen to music or chart your workout in your favorite fitness app. But that's it.
There are of course several why texting and talking on your phone at the gym is uncouth. For starters, as we just explained in the discussion of headphones, you should be there for a purpose. If you're talking on the phone or texting, you're diverting your attention from that purpose. And that makes you look like a self-important tool.
More important that the need to avoid looking like a self-important tool, however, is the need to not waste somebody else's time. And chance are, if you are on a machine at peak hours talking or texting on your phone, you are wasting somebody's time.
10. Get Off Your Phone
Sometimes weights slip out of your hands. Sometimes you have to drop them ASAP so as not to crack your clavicle. Sometimes. The rest of the time you should be in control of the weights you are using so that you are not slamming them to the ground, assaulting the eardrums of everyone around you. Cool?
9. Don’t Drop Your Weights
If somebody asks you to spot them and you are not in the middle of a set, do it. Similarly, if you see somebody in need of a spot who for whatever reason has not asked anybody yet, offer. Everybody needs a spot. Nobody can afford to be stingy.
Plus, look at how much fun these guys are having.
8. Alway Offer to Spot
You are only human, so it's impossible not to get distracted by some yoga pants or short shorts every once in a while. But have some self-control. Don't just sit there staring at butts with a lecherous look on your face. And most importantly, NEVER peek in on the yoga classes. Every woman in there will label you "possible sex offender" and avoid you like...well, like a possible sex offender.
7. Don’t Oggle
At peak hours your gym may be busy, in which case you don't have to feel bad about taking the treadmill right next to somebody. (Maybe that pretty brunette with the green eyes?) But where there are tons of machine available, don't be a weirdo. Respect others' personal space and take the treadmill on the other side of the room.
6. Spread the F**k Out
Quick question: are you gorilla or one of the other great apes? Because if so, grunting is perfectly natural and socially acceptable.
If, however, you are a human being, then sorry, you need to stop. Nobody is impressed with how hard you are ripping it, least of all the ladies, who are in fact thinking, "well, I guess that's what he sounds like when he's having sex."
5. No Grunting
Don't talk down to new gym members, and don't make fun of them either in public or in private. Welcome them. Be friendly, but not condescending. Make them want to come back. If they ask how to use a machine, show them.
That being said, you're not their personal trainer, so...
4. Be Nice to Newbies
If a newcomer asks how to use a machine, tell them. If they ask something like, "is it worth it to get a lifting belt?" or "what do you think about interval training?" share your thoughts. It's clear they want your opinion.
Other than that? Keep your mouth shut. Don't lecture people about how everything they're doing is wrong. Don't speak at length about how everything you're doing is right. And don't walk up to people and give them pointers. If you see somebody doing something like a jackass and you really want them to get it right, tell one of the trainers. Helping patrons use the machines properly is their job, not yours.
3. Keep Your Advice to Yourself
This one is a paradox. If you ask anyone who regularly uses free weight what their biggest pet peeve is, they'll probably say "people doing curls at the squat rack." Thus, you would think that if it's everybody's bet peeve, nobody would actually be doing it. But people do.
Why is this bad? Well, the main reason is that there are only one or two squat racks at most gyms, while there are dozens of hand weights which you can use anywhere else in the building. So doing curls at the squat rack holds people up.
However, there's also another reason why this is bad. You see, doing curls with a barbell is bad biomechanics. Holding a barbell in front of you with your palms up and bringing it toward your chest is a very unnatural motion. You do curls with hand weights precisely because it allows for a natural lifting motion.
So when you do curls at the squat rack, you're being inconsiderate and stupid.
2. No Curls at the Squat Rack
This is the most obvious piece of gym etiquette, which is why it take the top spot. Don't hog the equipment, bro. If the gym is crowded, that's not the time to do extra reps or run another two miles on the treadmill, nor is it the time to circuit train. It's the time to do the shortest possible version of your workout and then get out of the way so the next person can do the shortest possible version of their workout, and everybody can go the f**k home.
What else does "don't hog the equipment" mean? It means don't hold on to stuff (weights, exercise balls, etc.) you aren't currently using, don't take breaks from cardio machines and leave your stuff there, and stand or sit around talking to somebody while people waiting to get on the machine.
Got it? Cool. Now, go work out.