Written by Giles Howard Friday, 02 October 2009 00:00
A gym is like any other common area in that the members rely on each other to follow the rules and behave courteously in order to make the gym a pleasant place for everyone. Whether you’re planning on joining a gym or you’ve been a member for years, it’s important to understand gym etiquette so that your presence doesn’t disrupt the gym and make it uncomfortable for other paying members to work out around you.
Before you even step foot in a gym, it’s important to be wearing the right exercise clothing. Obviously, your workout gear has to be comfortable and it has to allow for mobility but this isn’t license to wear distracting, skimpy clothing.
No one at the gym wants to see you exercise in shorts that are too tight or a shirt that barely covers anything. You aren’t at the gym to show off your body but to work on it. Skimpy outfits can be a distraction to other members and may make some uncomfortable so simply wear loose, comfortable clothing and leave the revealing stuff at home.
Probably the most important rule in gym etiquette is to clean each machine after you use it. We all sweat when working out, but it isn’t ok to simply walk away from a machine, leaving a pool of sweat on the seat or moisture on the headrest. Most gyms provide paper towels and disinfectant spray to their members at multiple locations throughout the exercise area so use them to clean machines after you finish each exercise. Failing to clean up your machine is not only rude; it poses a significant health risk to other members and encourages the spread of disease.
If your gym does not provide paper towels and disinfectant, bring your own towel and at least wipe down each machine after you use it.
Speaking of machine use, another important rule of gym etiquette is not to rest on machines when the gym is busy. Sure, we all need to rest between sets but it’s common courtesy to let others use the machine in between your sets especially when the gym is busy.
Stand up between sets and then return to the machine when you’re ready to perform another set. This way, no one has to wait for you to catch your breath before they can use a machine.
Although a lot of gym etiquette involves things you should do to make the gym a better place, one of the most important rules involves something you should not do: talk on your cell phone. Not only is it dangerous to talk on the phone and exercise, it’s also distracting and annoying for the members working out around you.
No one at the gym wants to hear your conversations and you shouldn’t want to broadcast them to everyone else in the cardio room either. Phone conversations should be private so simply leave your phone in the car while you workout and return to it when you’re finished at the gym. While we’re on the topic of noise, remember not to make excessive noise while lifting weights. I know it’s tempting and sometimes it helps to audibly express your lifting efforts but it’s extremely distracting to hear someone grunting every 10 seconds and it’s absolutely unpleasant.
Remember, noise pollution is a real issue at gyms and you don’t want to contribute to the problem by being overly expressive at the weight bench. A quick point of etiquette on the subject of noise: don’t drop weights. Dropping weights is not only a distraction to other members but it also damages the weights themselves. As a gym member, you have an interest in the integrity of the weights so be careful when handling them.
These are some of the major rules that compose gym etiquette and help make gyms pleasant spaces where every member can feel comfortable working out. Remember, the gym is a common space so, when in doubt about a point of etiquette, simply behave the way you would want other members to behave when you’re exercising.
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