It’s that time of year again … when fitness clubs and gyms literally double their occupancy between the months of January and April. New Year’s resolutions run rampant and everyone is determined to make fitness and exercise a part of their weekly routine. Unfortunately, many new gym members may not know what’s expected of them when they visit the facility. To be honest … some gym “veterans” may also need a reminder or two!
The workout floor (especially during this time of year) is a lot like an elementary school playground where kids of all ages, experiences and expectations interact together. There are no written rules to follow but there is an understanding of how you should act so that everyone “plays nice”. To ensure that all gym members (brand new or seasoned veterans) have good experiences at the gym it seemed like the appropriate time to review proper gym etiquette.
Proper Gym Etiquette for Dummies
Rules (written or otherwise implied) are meant to ensure each member is safe and that they have a good experience each time they visit the gym. Standard rules fall under five (5) categories:
- Equipment cleanliness
- Equipment floor clean-up
- Time management and respect
- Common courtesy
Clean up after yourself. The gym is an environment where you are expected to sweat. Unfortunately, sweat is also a way that bacteria and disease is spread. As a common courtesy to others (who you would expect to do that same on your behalf), wipe down machines and benches after you’ve used them to remove sweat and dirt for the next user.
Dress appropriately. Although you aren’t expected to wear a dress suit, you also shouldn’t wear dirty sweats or a smelly, torn up t-shirt. It is important to respect others and what may be offensive or unappealing to them. Be sure to wear clean clothes that are comfortable to move in. This also includes clothing with appropriate coverage (i.e. not revealing too much skin). Although some may enjoy the sight of a woman in a bra top and tight shorts or a shirtless man flexing his muscles in front of the mirror, others may be offended by it. Finally, wear appropriate footwear. Depending on the weather, outdoor shoes can bring in water or mud onto the workout floor.
Keep odor to a minimum. Our sense of smell is something we can’t shut off. If there is something we don’t want to see, we look elsewhere. If there is something we don’t want to touch, we avoid it. If there is something we don’t want to hear we can plug our ears. Unless we walk around with our nose plugged while we exercise … it’s unavoidable. Traditionally sweat has some odor to it. Deodorant (or anti-perspirant) are recommended. But too much odor also applies to perfumes and cologne. Don’t spray perfume or cologne before you get on the workout floor. People with a sensitive sense of smell will thank you for it!
Wipe down equipment after you use it. Not only is wiping equipment a way of cleaning off sweat and dirt, it also shows respect to other gym members and to the staff and owners of the fitness club. The gym is a place where you want to make friends … not enemies!
Unload the plates from the weight bar. People of all shapes and sizes use the barbells and weight stacks. Having to unload several plates before even starting an exercise is not only tiring … it’s annoying. Be sure to put the plates back on the weight trees (45 lb. plates on the bottom and 5 lb. plates on the top).
EQUIPMENT FLOOR CLEAN-UP
Put weights back where you found them. Many people who visit the gym are pressed for time. When weights are not in their intended place someone ends up wasting valuable time trying to find the weights they need. Dumbbells are traditionally placed smallest to largest (left to right), with the heaviest weights on the lower racks. Barbells and plates are typically placed on stands (or trees). They are traditionally placed with the largest weights on the bottom of the stand and smallest weights on top.
Put benches or accessories back where you found them. Unlike dumbbells or barbells, benches and small accessories are uncommon (maybe only one in the whole facility). Be sure to put these specialized items back where you found them so that others can easily find them and use them.
Wipe the floor if you spill any water. Water is bound to spill at the gym. Cleaning up the water you spill not only shows respect to others … it also ensures the environment is safe.
TIME MANAGEMENT & RESPECT
Respect the 30 minute time limit on cardio machines (especially during peak hours). Everyone at the gym deserves to get their workout in. And they should also expect to get their minimum of 30 minutes of cardio in during peak hours. If you are looking to get a longer session of cardio plan to visit the gym during non-peak hours or finish 30 minutes and then complete the rest of your cardio at the end of your workout.
Don’t show up late. Just like showing up late to an appointment is rude and disrespectful, so is showing up late and interrupting a group fitness class or personal training session. Check the schedule for class times and plan your day accordingly.
Share the equipment with others. If someone is waiting to use the equipment, let them know how much you have left in your set (no more than two sets). Then, finish your exercise (don’t rest for too long) and let them have their turn.
Practice patience. If you are waiting for a piece of equipment be sure not to “hover” over the person while they finish their sets/reps. Hovering makes other people feel uncomfortable and uneasy.
Share the water fountain. If you are filling up your water bottle and there is a line up, fill your water bottle half way and then come back when the line isn’t as long.
Don’t block the flow of traffic. Gyms are notoriously crammed with equipment with minimal room for walking traffic. Don’t stand around in major traffic areas (where people are trying to get to and from the change rooms, group fitness studios and front entrance).
Don’t carry a gym bag around the gym. Gyms are packed with equipment and don’t have much additional space on the workout or cardio floor. Locker rooms are provided so that members can safely store their belongings while they work out.
Don’t talk on your cell phone on the workout floor. Having to listen to someone on their cell phone at the gym is like listening to someone have a conversation while you are watching a movie at the theater. It’s a negative distraction that can deter you from completing your workout.
Don’t treat the locker room like your own bathroom. Just like the workout floor, the locker room also has limited space for hundreds of people at a time. Don’t put your belongings all over the place and don’t lounge around for extended periods of time.
Respect other people’s property. Stealing is wrong. Don’t do it!
Final Thoughts About Gym Etiquette …
By showing common courtesy and respect to the gym, the equipment, the staff and the other members, you create a positive environment where you can get the most out of your gym experience. Set a good example and others will follow suit!