From the outside, it seems like a club where everyone but you knows the secret handshake.
Where should you put your stuff? Why is that guy putting chalk on his hands? Is there a time limit for the treadmill? Are selfies some sort of a membership requirement???
But don’t worry. It doesn’t take a Ph.D in Exercise Science to figure out how to act.
Sure, every place has its quirks, but the most important rules of gym etiquette have to do with not being jerk to other people around you.
Not too tough, right?
So what might seem complicated to the uninitiated is actually pretty simple to follow.
Here are some basic rules of etiquette that every gym-goer should know.
Unload Your Weights
When it comes to gym rules, this one should be at the top of the list, people.
It's pretty impressive to see someone squatting with four plates on each side of the bar. But you know what’s not impressive?
Watching that same person walk away from a loaded bar and move onto another exercise.
There are so many things wrong with this, and you see it happen all the time.
Just because you can safely lift a certain amount of weight, that doesn’t mean the person after you will be able to safely unload it. Plus, loading and unloading weights takes up time, which means that’s minutes you’re forcing someone else to waste.
But you know the most important reason you should unload your weights?
It’s not someone else’s responsibility to clean up after you (seriously, this is something we learn in kindergarten). Whether it’s a gym employee or the person who needs to use the equipment after you, they shouldn’t be expected to deal with your mess.
Unload your weights when you’re finished, every time, no questions asked.
Wipe Down the Equipment
It’s definitely the sign of a good workout when you get up from a piece of equipment and see a sweat imprint left behind.
But that doesn’t mean you should be sharing your sweaty shadow with other people.
And not only is it completely gross to leave puddles of sweat in a shared space, the gym can be a breeding ground for some pretty nasty stuff when it isn’t cleaned properly — ringworm, E. coli, and fungus, as well as cold and flu viruses, just to name a few.
Odds are your gym even provides you with cleaning wipes or spray — so do us all a favor and give your equipment a wipe after you’re done getting your sweat on.
Don’t Take All the Dumbells
It’s totally understandable that you might need more than one set of dumbells at a time.
After all, if you’re doing supersets with two different weights, you don’t want to be running back and forth to the rack every 30 seconds.
But that doesn’t mean you need to grab every dumbbell that you’re going to need for your entire workout all at once.
(You know the people I mean — the ones in the corner hoarding the 10s, 15s, 20s, and 30s for exercises they’re going to do in 30 minutes.)
It’s important to remember that you have to share the equipment with other people, particularly if your gym doesn’t have multiple sets of dumbbells or it's a busy time.
Show some consideration for everyone around you and only take what you need, as you need it.
Don’t Drop Your Weights
Yes, weights are heavy. That’s kind of the point.
But that’s no excuse for dropping your weights.
Sure, weights may hit the ground during deadlifts, or something might accidentally slips out of your hand if you lose your grip. That’s not the type of thing I’m talking about.
I’m talking about the people who drop their dumbells on the ground between every set of presses, just to let the whole room know how much they’re lifting.
Not only is this an obnoxious habit, but it can damage both the equipment and the flooring. Plus, that noise can be very distracting for other people who might need to be concentrating on safely completing their own lifts.
And I hate to break it to you, but successful weight lifting is as much about control as how much you can lift. If the weight you're attempting to lift is so heavy that you can’t set it down without slamming the ground, you probably don’t have any business lifting that much, anyway.
Don’t Give Unsolicited Advice
It’s always great to see someone with a lot of gym experience helping out a newbie. It’s amazing how much you can learn from other people, plus it creates a sense of comradery that can make working out really enjoyable.
But when you start offering those opinions to other people without being asked, you’ve crossed a line.
Yes, they might be driving you crazy — using a piece of equipment wrong, not squatting past parallel, or taking a pre-workout supplement after they’re finished working out (talk about a face-palm). But you know what? It’s really none of your business.
By all means, be friendly, approachable, and open to helping others. But unless someone is causing immediate danger to themselves or the people around them, it's best to just keep your suggestions to yourself unless you’re asked.
Read The Rules
Even if you consider yourself a gym-etiquette expert, you still might have something to learn. Rules can be very different from one gym to another, and its important to understand what the specifics are for each one.
Something that is totally cool at one place might be a huge no-no so where else.
Some gyms don’t allow making noise during a lift — so no grunting during that 405 lb squat.
Some gyms allow you to remove your shoes to stretch or deadlift, while others require shoes to be worn at all times.
Some gyms even ban bringing any type of bag onto the exercise floor (which can really cramp your style when your bag is usually loaded with belts, bands, straps, and who knows what else).
Not only can ignoring these rules be disrespectful to everyone else around you, breaking them might even get you kicked out.
So save yourself the time and hassle, and look over your gym’s specific rules. It always pays to be in the know!
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