Gym etiquette 101.
Other people can be the worst — especially in the gym. Here’s 10 ways to avoid being one of them.
1. Always ask.
If someone is using a machine or piece of equipment and you need something nearby, ask if you can. Don’t walk up and grab a weight plate from the rack when someone is squatting. Besides being extremely rude, it can be dangerous: you might knock the person squatting or bench pressing while they’re under a heavy weight, which could be disastrous.
2. Put your weights back.
This should go without saying but it’s the number one rule broken in the gym. For extra points, if you found a weight somewhere it shouldn’t have been, put it back where itshould have been. Related to this, don’t leave your weights on the ground. Again, it’s rude as well as dangerous — ever tripped on a lazy 50 kilo dumbbell lying in the middle of the floor? — and makes you look like a giant tool. If you can pick it up, you can put it back.
Similarly, don’t leave machines loaded up with hundreds of kilos of weight. So you can leg press 500 kg? Great! Don’t leave it on the machine so that someone weighing one tenth of that has to unrack it just because you’re inconsiderate.
3. Keep the equipment where it belongs.
Have you ever walked into the weights area of a gym only to see a sit-up bench blocking the dumbbells? That’s a big no no. To wit: Don’t drag a bench onto the deadlift platform Don’t leave plyometric boxes in the squat racks. Don’t try to deadlift in front of the dumbbell racks. Don’t try to do any weightlifting movements anywhere except the deadlift platforms or another designated area.
4. Be mindful of your surroundings.
Gyms can be dangerous places if you’re not alert. On busy times of day in particular, you have to be super-mindful of the other patrons; don’t start doing dumbbell kickbacks without checking behind you, for example. Also, sometimes poorly laid out gyms have machines with their plate-loaded arms swinging out into a thoroughfare and if you’re not looking where you’re going, you might be in for a headache.
If you want to be a real champion, look out for your fellow gym-goers and help them out if you see them struggling; maybe offer to spot them.
5. Bring a towel. Use it.
Gyms can be some of the most germ-ridden places you can go. One study found that 63 per cent of gym equipment showed the presence of rhinovirus (which causes the common cold), with weight training equipment more affected than cardio machines. Viruses love nonporous surfaces such as steel weights in particular. So, for both your own sake and the sake of other patrons, use that towel.
6. Clean up after yourself (and, if you have to, other patrons).
Related to the previous point, if you still manage to sweat through your towel or for some other reason leave sweat on a piece of equipment, grab some paper towel and disinfectant spray (hopefully your gym has some around — if not, hassle them about it) to do your fellow gym-goers a solid. And if you happen to approach a bench of piece of equipment that has some gross droplets of on it already, it won’t kill you to wipe them up yourself. (Though, shame on that other gym rat for being so disgusting.)
7. Selfies: Try to be discreet about them.
Look, we know you want to take them and you should be able to. If nothing else, they’re a good way to track your progress. But there are limits. Keep it to the change rooms or on less busy days when you’re not getting in the way of other patrons. The general rule of thumb here is: do what you want — just don’t infringe on anyone else’s gym experience.
8. Personal space: respect it.
Can’t get to a bench on Monday night? Too bad. Don’t stand 20 cm away from the person who has one, ready to pounce. Aside from being dangerous for both you and the other person, we all know it’s not the most comfortable feeling to try and blast out some biceps curls while there’s a guy less than a metre away attempting power cleans.
9. Don’t hog the equipment.
While this is obviously subject to the time of day, staying at one station for half an hour when other people want to use it is not on. If you’re occupying a popular piece of equipment at a popular time of day, don’t sit there on your phone checking Instagram, oblivious to the waiting queue. Everybody needs to squat — don’t monopolise the rack if it’s 6.00PM on a Thursday night.
10. Avoid the chitchat.
The gym is a place of solace for many people and, although it can be a great social setting, try to keep the gossip to a minimum. If you run into a gym mate or someone you know, don’t stand around chinwagging all through someone else’s session.
And, of course, if someone is wearing headphones, it probably means they don’t want to be disturbed.
In the end, all these boil down to the same concept ‘be considerate of other people’. If we could all do that, the gym would be a much friendlier — not to mention tidier — place to visit.