The must know gym etiquette is not the same as it used to be- the rules have changed. While many are the same (don’t curl in the squat rack), developments in technology and techniques are influencing our tendencies and come with their own set of considerations.
The most glaring of which, as you might guess, are tied to smart phones and social media. Whether you are a seasoned gym veteran, a newbie (if you’re just recently venturing out of the land of treadmills, same thing) or a Zumba groupie, these are the need to know topics affecting the world of gams today.
See what I did there? Gams? Like, legs and Instagram?
Never mind, here we go.
This is both a do and don’t. If you’re trying to hit your one rep max on bench press, yes, for the sanity of everyone else in the gym, please get a spotter if you didn’t bring one with you. Spotting is a safety habit that you shouldn’t let your ego get in the way of.
Howeverrrrrrr….spotting can also be borderline sexual harassment. If this seems confusing to you, here are some activities where you 1) don’t need a spotter, and 2) don’t need to offer a spot:
- Anything on the Smith Machine, especially squatting.
- Any machine where there is literally no possible way that the weight will crush you
- Jump roping
- Anything with Kettlebells
- Leg Press (it has a brake people, calm down)
- Lat pull-downs. *face palm*
I literally had a dude ask me to spot him on the lat pull-down machine once. It’s selectorized- when you hit failure, slightly decrease the weight. There are no 1RM (one rep max) points on cable machines. Ever.
Putting Weights Back
I’m gonna say it louder for the people in the back: PUT YOUR DAMN WEIGHTS BACK.
Every time. I don’t care if you’re at Equinox and they have ten people running around putting things away, or you’re in your garage at home and the only person who is going to trip over them is you and the dog.
Put them away. It’s discipline. It’s being a good dude. It’s like making your bed.
Put. The weights. Back. Where they go.
Wow- a lot of personal space also falls under unnecessary offers to spot, but I digress. Here’s a brief summary: Please don’t stick your butt or nuts in someone’s face as you squeeze between the benches and the rack to put your weights away (as emphasized above.)
Try to not clobber anyone in the face while doing lateral raises, or Bruce Lee anybody while doing cable kickbacks. Other than that, just say excuse me. Make your mom proud.
Wow, this is a huge one, and one of the newest considerations when it comes to gym etiquette. The fitness influencer industry has blown up in conjunction with the Instagram platform and the quality of phone videos available.
I am all for self promotion and documenting your hard work, or moves that are unique to you. Re-watching videos later is also a great way to check for form and track progressions in your technique in more technical lifts.
There’s a big difference between this, though and hogging the mirror while trying to get exactly the right angle on your phone. Don’t do that. Just don’t.
Your selfies will look way better without your arm in the way anyways, so try something like this case, (you might have to search around a little for the version that suits your phone). Then you don’t have to worry about balancing your phone on your water bottle, settling for those awful upward angles, OR having to be close to a mirror to snap a pic.
Being able to stick your phone anywhere gives you unlimited options for angles, take it from an expert on all things selfie.
Staph. You know who you are.
Sweating/Wiping Down Equipment
Yes, everyone sweats. At least, if you’re doing it right you are. No one likes to think about how many layers of grime build up on equipment though, if up to 3-4 sweaty people are using them every hour. According to a recent study, there are over 300x more bacteria on free weights than on a public toilet…and that’s just hand sweat, not crotch sweat.
Most gyms provide at least spray bottles and paper towels; some provide those handy sani-wipes (WAY more convenient). The best gyms (in my opinion) provide a towel service as well, thus minimizing the contact you have with the equipment at all.
Personally, I’m a sweater, so I bring my own towels, then I know what I’m not touching, and I’m leaving the equipment less gross for the next person. (The towels I use are cheap, anti-bacterial and in non-gym colors so that I can keep them from walking off, and I get them here, although there are many options to choose from.)
Bacteria is no joke- I personally know someone who went to the hospital for several weeks with MRSA on their face, that they picked up at the gym. So be considerate, use a towel and wipe things down. (The gym we just started going to in Texas only has questionable amounts of spray bottles and paper towels, so I also carry personal sized packs of sani-wipes, that I buy in bulk here.)
Unless there’s a fire and you need to run out of the building- don’t.
You don’t look cool- you look, and sound (and probably smell) like a douche. Here, have a sani-wipe.
Claiming Multiple Pieces of Equipment
Gym etiquette would dictate that this is definitely a “read the room” scenario, where you need to observe how busy the gym environment is and how likely you are to be blocking or disrupting other people’s routines by hogging multiple barbells, sets of dumbbells, cables or machines.
And for heavens sake, don’t be that girl or guy who “claims” something, but it working out all the way at the other end of the gym from it, and comes running back to kick off someone who thought it was open. That will be a dollar in the jar.
I don’t know why I gave this its own headline, because honestly the only caption it needs is “NO”. Passing gas in sweaty, confined spaces can’t even be covered by gym etiquette: that’s just bad manners.
I also want to point out that no matter how many people are in your vicinity- you’re not sneaky and everyone knows. Just go to the locker room.
No. What did we just talk about? Germs. So no. You want those in your bed later?
I feel like I should also give honorable mention to the people who like to sit on the inner thigh machine for days at a time, legs mostly splayed apart, on their phones. Please stop. For everyone’s sake.
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