Are you practicing your gym etiquette?
One of the barriers towards a newbie weight trainer is the overall “unknown” towards gym culture. People don’t want to show up somewhere and feel like they are out of place, but I’ve never been to a gym where members or people that worked there were not compassionate, welcoming, encouraging, or understanding to new comers and beginners. Everyone has to begin somewhere. Don’t get my wrong…its terrifying and I completely sympathize and have empathy because I was there once too. Ultimately you just have to keep pushing yourself mentally, accept the level of anxiety that comes with starting a new routine, and constantly push to show up. Just like showing up for a new job, it’s like walking on egg shells, people are figuring you out, you are figuring out the space and culture and routine…the drive, where things are…it’s overwhelming. But you need money so you have to be there and you have to show up or you won’t have a job or an income. At the end of the day, you cannot let your fears of a new space or environment stop you from achieving your fitness goals. It’s going to take some time for your gym to feel like a second home, but the more you show up and be in that space and see familiar faces the more comfortable you will be.
The gym has a learning curve just like everything else in life. Don’t get bent out of shape if you feel uncomfortable the first time entering a gym. That being said, the only time someone is looking at another person and thinking “you’re a tool” is because they have terrible “gym etiquette”. Which really isn’t foreign to basic societal standards of being a respectful person. If you have respect the fact most gyms are public spaces and therefore meant to share, you will be fine. Without further adieu…
- Pick Up Your Weights: If you have used something, put it back exactly where you found it. Everything has a labelled spot, if you walk something across the gym, then walk it back. If you want to lift heavy and pile all the weights on a machine, then be the strong human that you are and take the weights off. You are a gutless person if you do not put your weights back, feel deep shame. Know anything you attempt in life will only be done with a half ass mentality…so none of your dreams will come true. Put your weights back.
- Sitting and Texting: Prepared to get serious cut eye if you are sitting on the machine in between sets; texting, sexting, tindering, bumbling, gaming, or doing whatever the hell you are doing on the phone. Choose a song, do your set. While you rest, get off the machine, and do your texting or scrolling or swiping off the machine. We are addicted to our phones so it’s just such a lame thing to do for the overall energy and morale of the gym to look over at everyone sitting on the machines texting vs. actually working out. If you do not wish to stand out, then don’t take up a precious machine and/or potentially interfere with someone else’s workout because of your little chit chat. At least give people an opportunity to “work in with you”, which leads me to the next point.
- Share the Machines/Equipment: Gyms are busy and people are on the same sort of schedule, we want to get our workout done and get out in good time. It’s frustrating when people are hogging equipment and machines, sitting on them during their rest time, and generally taking up precious time. You don’t have to give up the machine, but if the weight can be changed simply with a peg or a pair of dumbbells there is no reason you cannot work in with another person. If someone asks to “work in” with you, guaranteed their set will be between 45s to 2minutes, and that’s perfect rest time for you anyways. That being said, don’t ask to work in with someone if it’s going to take a ton of complicated weight adjustment, and/or if you are doing a long set.
- Circuit Training: A corporate gym such as Good Life, LA Fitness, Anytime Fitness, etc. is not the best place to perform giant sets or circuit training. These gyms are more suited to body building style training which is more sets and reps, not rounds of activity and all over the place. This is why they offer fitness classes for more circuit style, cardio + weight training in separate rooms. The equipment in corporate gyms is usually spread out, and no…you cannot claim all of it with your towel or water bottle or phone. Nothing is more mind blowing then someone expecting a piece of equipment to still be there when they come back after a few minutes of using other equipment. People are not going to keep track of your workout or circuit and it’s not our business to either! If you are committed to circuit training then join a boot camp, cross fit, or perform the circuits at a time when there is low traffic. If you are dead set on circuit training during prime time, be prepared to know you will be the one adjusting your routine, not the other people around you.
- Setting Up Camp: There are lots of different styles of exercise underneath the fitness umbrella you can go find yourself enjoying. Some require no equipment and minimal space and some are a lot more equipment dependent. Fitness and exercise is incredibly hot and trendy right now, the amount of gyms opening up that tailor to specific styles of exercise is deep! This is why I am going to lovingly pick on power lifters, only because they come in herds and packs of minimum 3 people in the crew, and it seems at least 1-2 of them serve as hype men 2. They plant themselves next to a rack and don’t move for the next 1+hours 3. They claim territory by spreading their bags, chalk, bands, pre-workout, bars, and their friends around the rack, and 4. They workout in high sets, low rep ranges, with long rest times, so good luck if you ever want to use the rack once in your workout, or try to work in with them. There are lots of independent gyms opening up that cater to very specific styles of training, look towards these as options instead of corporate gyms. Setting up camp sucks for the people around you, there are so many gyms that cater specifically to power lifters where the entire culture respects how power lifters workout. 4-5 years ago all I did was power lift, hindsight has shown me I was a culprit of this act and I feel guilty about taking up a rack for so long! Terrible etiquette on my part! I also think it’s more fun for a power lifter to workout in a gym that caters to power lifting. The culture is more up their alley and everyone in the gym enjoys the same sport, and it can also open up options for competing as you meet more people in the sport in one space.
- Clean Up After Yourself: If you know you sweat a lot, then bring a towel and wipe off the equipment after each use. Most or all gyms have paper towel and sanitizer available, use it! Gyms are germy and dirty as is, don’t make it worse by sweating all over equipment and leaving it behind for someone else to absorb, Sicko!
- Be Nice to People: No matter where you are starting, the gym is a place where people can escape to and improve themselves. Every single person there has the same(ish) goals, desires, and mission as you, as well as the quest for overall higher quality health. Be supportive, be collaborative, share the space, smile at each other, acknowledge the silent camaraderie that exists between yourself and another gym goer you see killing it regularly. Doesn’t mean you have to strike up a conversation, but paying respect to the fact you are both consistently dedicated to working on yourselves but on your own separate journeys…that’s rad.
- Don’t Interrupt: That being said, don’t be toooooo outgoing lol! Do NOT talk to someone if they are in the middle of their set. It is not hard to wait kindly on the side, slightly away from the person until they have finished their set. This is common sense, the person is focusing and is trying to simply get through the working set, don’t be a child. It’s unbelievable when someone rips up to another person and gets in their face asking a question like “how many sets do you have left?”, when the other person is clearly in the middle of something hard. It’s absurd because this does happen quite often, at least bi-weekly. In what way does someone struggling against weight seem like the perfect candidate to strike up a conversation with? Personally when that happens to me, I will COMPLETELY ghost you.
You’re all set! If you abide by these gym etiquette rules young gym hopper, you will see much success and fulfillment in your fitness journey. Be confident, purposeful, respectful, and fearless the next time you enter the gym and smash your workout! Every new space has a learning curve, it’s okay to feel stressed and overwhelmed, just don’t succumb to it.