Gym Etiquette

Manners cost literally nothing. This is a good starting place for any conduct in life, but just for this post, I’d like to focus on Gym Etiquette. There are a few gym practices that really make me mad. I just though I’d share some advice, based on my own experiences, about conduct in a gym. Please share any experiences you’ve had, or opinions on gym conduct below!

1) Clear your weights away! It doesn’t take two extra minutes out of your life to walk the weights back to their rack. But as soon as one member leaves their dumbbells lying on the floor, another members sees this happen and thinks they have the right to do it too. The laziness snowballs, and all of a sudden, you have one cluttered weights area. Especially at peak times, this is not only annoying, but a health hazard too.

2) Don’t monopolise equipment, benches or space. I always find going to the gym is much less stressful early in the morning: fewer people are milling around, and generally there’s less demand for equipment or space. If, however, you attend at a peak time, say after work, because it’s the only time you can go, bear in mind other people are likely to want to use the same equipment as you. Standing around waiting for equipment is maddening: your muscles cool off, you waste time and tensions mounts. An efficient response is to have backup exercises for popular machines/weighted dumbbells. This will maximise your time usage and keep the time in the gym down as much as possible. However, this can all be avoided if people don’t hang around on the same bench or machine for half an hour. It’s inconsiderate.

3) Don’t eyeball other members. I don’t think I can count the amount of times I’ve received “the glare”. This is a lingering look from a particularly aggressive gym member, who thinks they are Top Dog in the gym. There is one thing I will say to these people: there is always someone stronger, fitter, faster than you out there.

There’s a myth attached to the gym: heavier is better. This is not strictly the case. Some guy with 22 inch biceps, curling 5kg weights, may be doing it for a specific training method involving low weight and high reps. Just because you are curling 15kgs does not mean that by default you are stronger than Arnie over there with his 5kgs. And it sure as hell doesn’t give you the right to assume superiority.Superiority-complex addled minds in the gym are my BIGGEST pet hate.

4) Following on from this, the other factor I think should be considered here is that other peoples’ programmes are none of your business. Unless they ask advice, strike up conversation or are acquaintances you know personally and feel comfortable discussing it with, back off. For all you know, the member you’re smirking at may be recovering from months in physiotherapy, having just come out of a serious car crash or sports injury. It’s just plain rude.

Moreover, I don’t think anyone should play the “holier-than-thou” card when giving advice. If someone is clearly endangering themselves or others with bad form, perhaps have  a word with staff. They might then have a quiet word on the side and offer advice on their form. This is much more preferable than waltzing up to someone and telling them they’re doing it all wrong. Which will, most probably, make them think you’re an ass.

5) Don’t drop weights. Again, this has serious health and safety implications, particularly at busy times. However, it also damages the equipment and will hasten the wear and tear that will eventually necessitate replacement. If the weights too heavy for a safe exit from an exercise, it’s probably too heavy for decent form anyway. Moreover, it might startle other members, and the distraction may prove just enough for them to cause themselves injury.

6) Be aware of your surroundings. When using space- whether that be standing at the water machine, placing towels under a bench, or running on the treadmill- please remember it’s a shared, communal space.

Finally-

7) Enjoy yourself and set YOUR OWN goals. The gym is for personal use, and that should not be determined by what you see others doing. People go to gyms for various reasons: weight loss, to bulk up, improve flexibility, get fitter and socialise to name but a few. You and you alone know what you want to get out of your time spent at the gym. Setting goals can really aid your motivation: lose 5lbs in a month, be able to shoulder press 30kgs by December, or it may even be as simple as regaining the ability to touch your toes! Whatever it is, identify your goal, and seek help achieving that goal. Whether this be through advice from staff, a personal trainer, training alone with an iPod because you concentrate better, training with friends for the confidence boost: it’s up to you.

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