A Newbie's Guide to Proper Gym Etiquette
Let's be honest, going to the gym can be intimidating. This is true especially if you're unfamiliar with the exercise environment. More so if you consider yourself to be out of shape. The thought that someone would have to get in better shape just to go to the gym is representative of this belief.
Joining and going to the gym isn't as terrifying as we make it out to be. It's just a new experience. And new or different things scare us. Which is fine, as long as we don't let them prevent us from at least trying new things.
So if you're a freshly minted gym member or hitting the weights after a bit of a hiatus, it's best to brush up on your gym-going etiquette. Let this little list be your guide to finding your way through an unfamiliar facility, en route to your fitness goals.
- Move it, or lose it. Exercise machines and free weight benches are made for movement not napping. Resting in between sets is fine, just don't plant your flag on a piece of equipment — especially when you're doing more sitting around than sweating.
- Sharing is caring. Now we're making progress. You're actually using the various contraptions throughout the gym. But, you might not be the only one who'd like in on the action. Or, you might want to use a piece of equipment someone else is using. That's OK, just ask nicely. "Excuse me, can I work in with you?" You could also ask the person hovering, watching you with hawk eyes, if they'd like to work in. You can and they will.
- Keep it clean. With respect to your language and the equipment. It isn't your gym, it's everyone's gym. You all pay to be there. So act accordingly. Notice the spray bottles and disinfectant wipes around the gym? Those are not for decoration. Use them to wipe the sweat from the equipment when you're through. And if need be, use soap to wash out your mouth.
- Dress the part. Despite what you may think, wearing Spandex is not a prerequisite for exercise. If you're not comfortable in form-fitting clothes, choose a different outfit. Fitness facilities are not a high-fashion runway. You're supposed to be sweaty. Shorts, tennis shoes and a T-shirt are all you really need to fit in while getting fit. On the other end of the spectrum, guys and gals who want to stand out, opt for less clothing. This is also unacceptable. Remember, you're in public, act – and dress – accordingly.
- Be aware of the surroundings. Generally speaking, the gym is a pretty safe place. But, if you become complacent, things can become sketchy. With that in mind, notice your surroundings. Take note of where other people are and what they're doing. Are you in their way? Are they coming your way? Do you need a spotter? Does someone else? The more responsible you are, the safer your experience becomes.
- Leave it where you found it. This one is the simplest, and most overlooked rules of them all. If you use something, PUT IT BACK! That weight, mat, bar, medicine ball, etc. It has a home. You took it from its home. The least you can do is return it. And, for goodness sake, clean it off before you do.
Now, with this handy-dandy list in tow, you'll be better able to seamlessly sweat your way to your fitness goals.