During my travels I have noticed that common courtesy (in many gyms) is no longer so common.
Since gym etiquette is so important to having a positive exercise experience, I feel that, unfortunately, I need to offer these suggestions.
Some of the things I have listed here will make most of you shake your heads in disbelief, but I assure you that they take place every day in gyms and locker rooms all over the world.
Following these reasonable rules will make exercising more pleasant for everyone…assuming that exercising can be pleasant. Personally…I hate to exercise!
Before You Exercise
- Clean your shoes at the front door. Dirt and mud belong outside, not in the locker room.
- Come to the gym clean. If you have had a hard, sweaty day, take a shower before training.
- Wear clean workout clothes. Can you believe that I actually have to include this one?
- Use deodorant…please…but use a subtle one, not an eye-burning, lung-choker.
- Unless you are a doctor, fire fighter, hooker, or a member of some other emergency service, leave your cell-phone/smart-phone in your locker. If your calls were really that important, you would be rich and exercising in your fully-equipped home gym with an expensive personal trainer…not with us commoners. We should not have to wait for a piece of equipment because you want to sit on it and talk to or text your mommy, boyfriend/girlfriend…or whomever.
- “Yes, but I’m listening to music.” First of all, you are here to workout…not to listen to music. And secondly, listening to music can reduce your results by as much as 30%. You should be concentrating on your exercises.
In the Gym
- Don’t drag equipment across the floor. If you need to move it and it doesn’t have wheels…pick it up.
- Put equipment back where it belongs when you are finished using it…even if that is not where you found it. It is distracting and aggravating to have to interrupt your exercise session in order to look for a piece of equipment that someone else did not return to its proper place.
- Don’t put the twenty-five-pound dumbbells in the place marked for the ten-pounders, etc. If you can’t read or match the numbers, or see the difference in sizes, ask someone whose brain does work to help you.
- Don’t leave loose weights (or any other equipment) lying around when you have finished an exercise. Someone else could break a toe, or trip and fall…breaking a lot more.
- Don’t lay dumbbells or barbells on the exercise benches. At worst they can roll off and crush someone’s foot…maybe even yours. At best they will eventually tear the covering on the bench. If you are too lazy to put them down on the floor and then pick them up again for your next set, go exercise on the machines where you don’t have to pick anything up.
A professional bodybuilder self-amputated his big toe in just this way, so you can see that I am not just talking to unknowing novices in this chapter.
- Respect “The 6 Foot Rule”. Stand at least 6 feet (±2 meters) away from dumbbell and barbell racks, benches, etc, so that other exercisers can easily get to the equipment without you blocking their way. The same goes for placing exercise benches too close to the racks or…I can hardly believe that I have to say this…putting a bench close to the rack and then putting your feet up on the dumbbells.
- Always use towels. If you sweat profusely, have a smaller one to wipe sweat off your face and hands, and a larger one to lay on the benches and machines when you are using them. Nobody wants to slide around in your sweat or lay their head in a pool of your hair-gel after you leave. Well-equipped gyms will also have disinfectant spray and paper towels to clean off equipment you have perspired on. When you are done, clean off the seat, backrest, hand grips and anywhere else your sweat (or hair-gel) has landed.
- Do not sit or hang around on the equipment if you are not using it. You should be exercising instead of hanging around anyway. Don’t use benches or other equipment as a place to hang your towel, belt, gloves, etc…or as a chair.
- Do not do half of your sets on a piece of equipment, stop to have a ten-minute conversation with someone, and then finish your sets. Either finish the exercise first, or go somewhere else to have your conversation so others can use the equipment while you are busy flapping your lips.
- Use equipment for its designed purpose. For example, don’t make others wait for the only cable crossover machine in the gym because you are using one side of it to do an exercise that you could just as well do on a single cable machine that no one is using.
- If someone asks if they can alternate with you on a piece of equipment…let them…especially if you are taking long rest periods (more than 60 seconds) between your sets. If it doesn’t work out, you can always politely decline the next time that person asks…but give them a chance first. Having a gym membership does not mean that you bought the equipment.
- Do not try to talk to, or otherwise bother someone who is seriously exercising. If they have time, you can talk to them either before or after their workout. If you are correctly following the CTTC Exercise Program, you will not have the time or the breath to talk while you are exercising anyway.
- Unless you are employed as an instructor at the gym, don’t give advice to the other members. The gym may have a certain system of teaching which their instructors are taught to follow. Your well-meaning advice…even if it is correct…might confuse the situation. If you want to give advice, get a job as an instructor or become a personal trainer.
- If you don’t even know the anatomical names of the muscles, much less their origins, insertions, and kinesiological functions, and your only education comes from reading ‘Fitness’ magazines and talking to “big guys”…you should be seeking advice…not giving it.
- Never, ever, make fun of anyone in the gym who is over-fat, skinny, handicapped, disfigured, or is in any way “different.” Think of kids at school making fun of your child, or when you yourself were bullied. This is exactly the same thing. If you think it’s hard to make yourself go to the gym, think how difficult it is for these people. They have taken a very difficult, positive step to improve themselves and to make their lives better. They deserve our respect and all the support we can give them. A friendly word can do wonders for them.
Just For the Ladies
- Don’t douse yourself with a strong perfume before training. A hint of scent is alluring. More is air pollution…especially if you are next to someone who is huffing and puffing away in an aerobics class or on a treadmill, etc.
- If you come to the gym dressed like a walking demonstration for the maximum stretch capacities of spandex… or wearing lingerie…or to show off your new (or old) breast implants…that’s great. But then don’t give anyone the “Why are you looking at me? I am soooo offended.” routine when they do look.
Just For the Guys
- Size is important…at least when it comes to workout bags. I can’t imagine what some of you have in those footlocker size bags, but please don’t put them on the benches people use to sit on…especially not in small locker rooms. Put them on the floor. Some of us with bad knees and/or bad backs need to sit down to safely put on, or remove, our shoes and socks. If there is not enough room to keep your over-sized bag out of everyone else’s way in the locker room…duh…get a smaller bag.
- Don’t blow your nose…or clear your throat and spit…in the shower. It’s dirty and unhygienic, and I can’t believe that I actually have to mention this.
- When your soap/shampoo bottle is empty, don’t leave it in the shower or on the locker room floor for someone else to clean up…unless your mommy or wife is the gym’s cleaning lady. At least they are already used to picking up after you.
- While you are exercising, don’t grunt and groan like a bull elephant having an orgasm. We all know that you are working really hard…and lifting really heavy weights…and we are all really impressed…really!
- If you are using 100 lbs on an exercise, don’t load the barbell up with all the 5-pound plates in the gym so that there are no more left for others to use. It doesn’t look cool…it just looks stupid.
- We all know that you can squat 800 pounds, bench press 500 pounds, curl 200 pounds, etc., so we don’t need to be reminded of it after you have finished. It’s OK to leave a couple of lighter plates on the bar but…once again…it can be dangerous for those with bad backs, knees or shoulders to have to take forty-five-pound plates off a barbell…and carry them to where YOU should have returned them in the first place.
Some exercisers will even have to ask someone to help them…thereby unnecessarily interrupting two people’s workouts…or they will just skip that exercise altogether. Neither of these is acceptable so…guys…have a little more respect for your fellow exercisers.
And after you remove those big plates from the bars, don’t stack them in front of small plates. This causes the same problem again. Keep heavy plates together and lighter plates separate. Thank you!!!
- Don’t drop weight plates, barbells or dumbbells on the floor. We all know that you use big, heavy weights but, if they are too heavy to set down gently, then don’t pick them up in the first place. We are not impressed…just annoyed.
In a well-run gym, the management will warn people who break these kind of common-sense rules…once or twice…and then they will throw them out…to the delight of the rest of the members.
Or, if you prefer this kind of conduct, then join a hardcore gym where all this is considered acceptable behavior. I love those gyms too.