We’ve all been to the gym and come across a guy or girl who drove us crazy. There’s the person that blasts their own music that no one else wants to hear from a Bluetooth speaker. The guy who uses the squat rack for bicep curls. The girl who uses the gym as her personal Instagram photoshoot set. Whether you’re new to the gym or you’ve been going for years, it’s always good to be reminded of what entails being a good person at your local gym. Here are the top 10 rules for gym etiquette.
1. BE COURTEOUS
We think the golden rule sums this one up nicely: Treat others the way you want to be treated. Walking into the gym with an arrogant and hardass attitude isn’t going to score you points with anyone. You don’t need to be a walking ball of sunshine, but your basic pleasantries of saying hello and asking how someone’s day is going are sufficient.
Most importantly, be courteous with equipment. Use common sense here; supersetting between two different machines isn’t the best idea during peak hours. If the gym is packed and you have a line to use your bench or machine, offer the chance for someone else to work in with you during rest sets.
2. WATCH YOUR MOUTH
We aren’t against getting loud when you’re benching close to your one-rep maximum; breathing heavy and shouting are necessary. With that said, if you’re in a commercial gym where everyone is welcome, including teens and kids, try putting a filter on your mouth while you’re at the gym.
Commercial gyms are where many teenagers start to learn the basics of weightlifting. Think back to when you first stepped into the gym. How nervous were you? Chances are the man or woman that looked like the Hulk intimidated the hell out of you. Now maybe you’re that guy or girl who is intimidating to someone else. Celebrate your new personal bests, but try to keep it clean if kids and ladies are around.
3. WEAR AN ENTIRE SHIRT
Hey, we get it: you’re proud of the gains you accomplished and you want to show them to the world. Congrats, but here’s the thing: no one is coming to the gym to look at your half naked body. They want to lift, train, and accomplish their own fitness goals. Guys showing up with a piece of string as a shirt or girls wearing see-through shorts isn’t improving your athletic performance. Sure, it might turn some heads, but is it necessary?
More importantly, it’s dirty. When you aren’t wearing much and you’re sweating all over the place, you’re spreading your grossness on to equipment. No one wants to use a machine that a dude just laid on with bare skin covered in sweat. Hey, speaking of being gross on machines…
4. WIPE DOWN BENCHES AND MACHINES
Wipe down your machine. Period. You’re in a relatively small room with a lot of people. It’s a prime opportunity to get sick and to get others sick. One of the best ways to avoid picking up some unwanted bacteria from someone else is to bring a towel and wipe down your machines before and after use. Most gyms will have a disinfectant spray bottle with paper towels. Use them.
5. FOCUS ON TRAINING, NOT TALKING
The gym is a great place to make friends who share a similar mindset. You’re also bound to find a few people as serious as you in achieving their goals, and there’s nothing better than a lifting partner who is going to motivate you to keep going. With that said, the gym is for training; it’s not a café.
Don’t hog a bench or machine while you’re discussing the game from the previous night. Get in there, get your workout wrapped up, then save the conversation for the parking lot or the juice bar.
6. THE GYM IS NOT YOUR PHOTO SHOOT
Everyone seems to think they are an Instagram influencer these days. Being proud of your physical ability and accomplishments is important, but when you take up an entire section of the weight room to take over a thousand pictures just so you can post one on your social media account…this might be a bit too much.
We’re all about the shameless selfies when they are taken outside of the area that others are trying to exercise. Until you get to your car, shower, or wherever, just focus on the workout.
7. CLEAN UP YOUR CHALK STORM
For those who are throwing around seriously heavy weight and require the use of chalk, we applaud you. Deadlifts, for example, are no easy feat, and most people get the form and execution wrong. If you want to make sure your deadlifts are perfect, check out our deadlifting checklist.
With that said, if you’re using chalk, you’re only too familiar with the dust storm that occurs every type you apply it. Overzealous chalk users can make the gym an unfriendly place for people who have a sensitivity to chalk dust. Use your chalk but only as much as you actually need. You shouldn’t be coated like a doughnut after your workout. More importantly, once you finish, clean up that chalk mess.
8. BE CAREFUL WHEN LIFTING HEAVY
We are all in favor of lifting heavy, especially when you want to take your muscle mass or strength to the next level. When you’re lifting in a commercial gym, especially in a CrossFit Gym, it’s essential that you take other people into consideration. Benching dumbbells that weight one-hundred pounds each is fine as long as they are controlled. When you lose control of the weights, you put others at risk for injury.
A few ways to get around this: lift in an area where there isn’t much foot traffic, go to the gym during off-peak hours, or have a spotter help you when you’re lifting more than 85% of your one-rep max.
9. PICK UP YOUR WEIGHTS
Arguably, this is the biggest offense of gym etiquette. At the very least, it’s tied with not wiping down a machine after you use. It’s amazing to watch full-grown men use dumbbells weighing over a hundred pounds only to leave them on the floor for the teenage staff to clean up. Seriously, do you think that 16-year-old girl is a professional powerlift? This isn’t just lazy, it’s rude and disrespectful.
Aside from it being a hassle for the staff who might be able to barely lift half of what you can, it’s also dangerous to those around you. Dumbbells and plates lying around present tripping hazards. This is especially true for older people who can’t see very well. You’re essentially leaving a booby trap for them to walk into. Don’t be that guy; rack your weights.
10. LIFT WHERE YOU SHOULD
While the gym can be open to a level of creativity, in general, there are specific places to perform specific exercises. Despite this, some people take it upon themselves to use a work station to perform an exercise that just doesn’t do it justice.
The best example of this is when someone goes to a squat rack and performs five long sets of bicep curls. This is an exercise that you can do literally anywhere else; you don’t need to do it in a place where people need to complete their biggest and toughest exercise of their workout.
The best way to make sure you’re performing an exercise in the correct place? Ask someone. There’s no shame in it, especially if you’re brand new to the gym, which brings us to our final point.
11. BE PATIENT AND UNDERSTANDING
This one goes out to the gym veterans: Take a second and think back to when you first stepped into a gym. How did you feel? You probably knew next to nothing about weightlifting, and a lot of what you did was trial and error. Keep this in mind when you see new people coming to your gym.
Everyone has to start somewhere. These same people are feeling much like you once did: unsure, nervous, and self-conscious. You don’t need to take someone under your wing – although that would be a great idea – but be patient with them and understand that they are trying to get the hang of something that took years for you to master.
WHICH BAD HABIT DO PEOPLE DO IN THE GYM THAT DRIVES YOU INSANE?
Are you constantly waiting to use a machine until the group of friends stops talking around it? Do you have to clean off someone else’s machine? Is there a rule for gym etiquette we missed? Let us know in the comments below!