The Golden Rules of Gym Etiquette
The gym is a microcosm of society. There are all walks of life interacting within close quarters, and most people are just trying to exercise as peacefully and harmoniously as possible. Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Politeness is a sign of dignity.” This statement applies to every aspect of the fitness club experience. Some gym patrons are simply unaware of the proper protocol to follow in a fitness club. Although most gyms have signs posted as guidelines for members to follow while exercising in the facility, it is vital to adhere to the rules that will help to make the gym experience as pleasant as possible.
- Re-racking weights after use. This is one of the classic tenets of gym courtesy. In consideration of others, it is so important to always pick up after yourself. When weights are not re-racked properly, it creates chaos in a gym environment. Club members cannot exercise as quickly and efficiently when they have to clean up someone else’s mess. With people having busier schedules than ever in the present day, no one wants to work out at a gym where they cannot access the equipment that they need in a very timely manner. Many people are very pressed for time when they go to the gym on a lunch break or in between appointments during a workday. Being courteous to your fellow gym patrons will allow for everyone to equally enjoy a workout, with as few hindrances as possible.
- Wiping sweat off of equipment after use. Ensuring a hygienic environment is imperative in all fitness clubs. With there being so many people exercising in one place simultaneously, it is crucial for health reasons alone for each member of a fitness club to wipe their sweat off of all machines immediately after completing that part of the workout. When exercise machines are not cleaned and maintained properly, there is a high-risk of rashes and possible infections. Many gyms even have disinfectant spray available with paper towels so that members can clean machines before and after use to minimize the spread of germs. In addition to the extremely important health reasons for cleaning sweat off of machines, it is also a very nice courtesy to keep the machines dry for the next person who will use them.
- Be considerate of where exercises are performed. The common phrase you hear many gym veterans say is “no curling in the squat rack.” The basic rule of thumb to follow is to be respectful of what exercises are limited to certain machines/racks and which exercises are easier to perform in a variety of different spots in the gym. If a specific piece of equipment is designed for an exercise such as squats, it is very considerate not to monopolize that machine by performing an exercise such as arm curls that can be done almost anywhere in the free weight area of the gym. Barbell squats are not very mobile; however, arm curls can be done anywhere. It is very beneficial to keep that in mind when deciding where to set up for certain exercises during your workout routine.
- Cell phone use while on equipment. With so many people being inseparable from their cell phones at any given time during the day, it is very important to be aware of others’ needs when sharing exercise equipment in a gym. Cell phone conversations and texting are not appropriate when sitting on a machine in between sets. There are other gym members who may need to use the machine as well. In consideration of fellow gym patrons, it is best not to use cell phones while on equipment. It is much more courteous to step to the side and make the equipment available to anyone who may need it before engaging in any cell phone use.
- Inappropriate noise. Everything from foul language to excessive grunting and dropping weights/slamming weight stacks falls into the realm of inappropriate noise at a gym. A polite gym veteran will know how to act appropriately in consideration of all club members. Cursing at an audible volume for any reason is not acceptable. Politeness is very important to creating the right positive atmosphere in a gym. Also, there is a courteous way to grunt when breathing heavy during a challenging lift. Screaming excessively is very unnatural and disturbing to other gym patrons. A strong exhale is perfectly fine, but it is important to save the other club members’ ears and one’s own vocal cords when controlling grunt noises during a workout. When performing any exercise at a fitness facility, it is a universal rule that all equipment must be handled with care and control. Dropping free weights on the floor and slamming machine weight stacks not only cause completely unnecessary noise but can also easily damage the equipment. Working out on any equipment with proper control and technique will be more pleasant for other gym members and also more effective for the muscles being worked out. Everybody wins!
- Social awareness. As in any social situation, it is necessary to be aware of one’s surroundings and not to accidentally make anyone feel uncomfortable. A common social interaction issue in health clubs is inappropriate staring. Being aware of this is important to ensure that no one feels awkward while exercising. Respecting all peoples’ personal space is a common courtesy that is just as important in gyms as it is in other aspects of life. For example, if a person is stretching on the floor, it is a very polite decision to give them as much space as possible so that you and they both can stretch in a very comfortable setting. Overall respect is the foundation of a healthy and positive fitness club environment. Unwanted social attention is to be avoided at all costs. Focusing on having a good workout as a priority is the best approach to being a courteous gym member. Friendliness is always encouraged, as long as it is in the context of positive social awareness.
- Wearing proper attire. Dressing appropriately is important in a gym not only for the consideration of the other gym patrons but also your own safety as well. Clothing should be comfortable athletic wear that is practical for fitness. The reason gyms do not allow street clothes to be worn by members while they work out is mainly due to the fact that sharp edges on belt buckles, zippers, etc. can potentially damage the equipment, while also hindering the range of motion of an individual’s muscles as he or she performs an exercise. Fitness clothing will enhance a workout by increasing comfort and mobility for all gym members.
The appeal of a gym membership is that it is a great investment in your own body. The purpose of it is to have fun getting healthy and bettering the mind, body and soul. There can be a great sense of camaraderie in a fitness club among patrons, if each individual works towards being kind and considerate of their fellow members. Following the basic etiquette of a fitness club will make the entire experience much more positive and productive. Common courtesy goes a long way and being aware of others in a fitness club environment is the first step towards a great journey in a long-term commitment with health and wellness.