The gym is a haven of health and wellness. It could also be a place of embarrassing situations and inappropriate behaviour.
I have to admit that when I was starting out, I wasn’t truly aware of the unspoken rules that come with hitting the gym. I didn’t know it then but I’m sure I must have come off as a douchebag to other people.
Now that I think about it, practicing common courtesy should be a no-brainer – the gym is a public place, used by many people at any given time of the day, and behaving properly is not only expected but is also as a simple way of letting others know that you respect them.
Not sure what to do? Gym etiquette isn’t rocket science. I have a few simple guidelines that can make anyone’s gym experience go from bad to good in no time.
Don’t Be a Rule-Breaker
Believe it or not, practicing proper gym etiquette isn’t just for newbies like you and me. Gym veterans also seem to have forgotten how to put their best foot forward at the gym.
Most (if not all) gyms have their own set of rules. Usually displayed in areas where it can easily be seen, take the time and effort to read them. After all, they were set in place for a reason. The gym should be a safe environment for everyone.
Here are some common rules you ought to follow whenever you hit the gym:
Keep Things Fresh
Just because you know you’ll be sweating at the gym doesn’t mean that you don’t have plans of showering BEFORE going. Be mindful of your personal hygiene. You don’t want other gym-goers to avoid you like the plague. The fact that you’ll sweat is reason enough to clean up at home before heading out. Showering after working out should be part of your gym routine too.
The gym is a potential breeding ground for bacteria, virus, and fungus. Norovirus, a virus notorious for causing tummy aches, diarrhea, and vomiting, can live up to a MONTH on gym surfaces. And yes, that includes your favorite gym equipment. Washing off after a workout reduces the risk of being infected. Think of the other people who’ve held those dumbbells. Do you know what other things their hands have touched? Exactly my point. Go and take a shower. Your life, quite literally, depends on it.
It’s not just your body that you need to keep fresh. Your gym clothes should also be washed and clean. Some people have a habit of reusing gym clothes once, twice, even thrice before throwing it to the washing machine. What’s the use of showering when the clothes you wear are teeming with bacteria and odor? Sounds like a losing situation to me.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask
Let’s just say that you’ve had a long day at work and you’re raring to hit the gym. One of the many reasons why you love the gym is because of their studios. You can do yoga in front of those wall mirrors. It helps you destress and relax. You enter the studio and you see someone else inside. What do you do?
There’s no golden rule stating you have to hold your questions. Simply ask if it’s okay that you share the studio with them.
This goes for all gym equipment. Dumbbells and weights are particularly popular amongst gym-goers. If there’s someone near a piece of equipment you want to use, don’t hesitate to ask. Speaking of questions, it can be pretty daunting to be working out alongside veterans who have no problems with their exercise forms. When you feel that the timing is right, go ahead and ask for a few tips. I bet they’d be more than willing to help you out. Just remember to choose the perfect moment to approach someone, or else you’d be breaking the next rule.
Crowds Can Be Challenging
The gym can be a pretty crowded place. You’d literally be rubbing elbows with other people as you work on those biceps.
Avoiding a crowded gym is pretty doable (just go during off-peak hours or choose a different gym – unless you’ve paid a membership fee. Learn more about it here.) Regardless of when you go though, be mindful of others’ personal space. While having a routine at the gym makes you feel like you’re in control, don’t hesitate to adjust accordingly.
Are the treadmills full? Use a stairmaster. Excited to do squats with weights but someone else is using the equipment? Don’t stand a few meters away from them and stare while they workout. Move on to another part of your fitness routine. It seriously won’t hurt you if you change it up every once in a while.
While we’re on the subject of crowded gyms, keep in mind that hogging the gym equipment isn’t nice either. Leaving one of your personal belongings (like a towel or a water tumbler) to “save” the equipment for yourself shows everyone that you lack common courtesy (unless you really need to step out in the middle of your workout and have intentions of continuing very soon.)
It is worth looking into investing in a gym membership with Rec Xpress where we value your personal space. Since we’re open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, you can be sure to have some peace and quiet in all of our five locations.
Mind Your Own Business
For a lot of people, the gym is a place where they can unwind and disconnect from the outside world. Unless someone approaches you with a harmless (read: appropriate) question, you don’t need to be sharing the latest tips on how to do proper squats left and right (you can learn more about doing proper squats here by the way.)
What if someone gives you unsolicited advice? What do you do? The answer is simple. Be courteous about it. There will always be enthusiastic gym-goers who are extremely eager to help out anyone they think should need any assistance. Just smile, thank them, and then moveon with your work out. It’s that simple. Chances are they’ll get the idea and find someone else to “help”.
The gym should be a safe environment for everyone. Trying to score a date with the lady you’ve been checking out is probably not the best idea. Don’t make the gym your Tinder. Sorry to break it to you, but the likelihood of meeting your soulmate as you do ab crunches is probably zero. If someone makes you feel uncomfortable, calmly tell them to stop. If they don’t back off, report their inappropriate behaviour to the staff.
Take Care of The Equipment
The equipment you use at the gym comes with a hefty price tag. Just because it’s not yours doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take good care of it. On the contrary, you SHOULD be treating these things as if they’re yours. No one wants to use a beat up stationary bicycle.
Gym owners invest a lot of their money on different gym equipment in the hopes that people like you and me can enjoy a healthy lifestyle. The least we can do is to take care of it. There’s no need for dropping weights mindlessly, leaving the treadmill on, or letting your sweat dry on the bench (have a towel handy for wipe downs). Return weights and dumbbells in their proper area for other gym goers to use. Wouldn’t it annoy you if the 10 kilogram weights you need were left lying around?
Remember that these very equipment are what YOU and others wil; continue to use in the future. Taking care of it will cost us nothing.
Manners are Important – Even At The Gym
My takeaway on this whole matter is that it pays to have manners. The underlying theme here is respect — for yourself, for others, even for the gym equipment. Nothing beats having appropriate behaviour at any given time or place.
Especially at the gym.