A Lesson in Gym Etiquette

You’ve likely read articles about this subject before now, but I feel the need to write another one as the others do not seem to make a difference in the gym – at least not the gyms in which I have or currently work.

  1. Be polite with your music. This point should have sub-points, but I won’t do that to you. My biggest pet peeve when I am working the desk is when I greet someone or bid them to have a good rest of their day, and they don’t hear me because their headphones are already on or earbuds are in, music blasting. I understand people want to have music while they work out. I put earbuds in when I do aerobic training (aka cardio). However. Be polite (and safe!). Don’t put your music on until you are actually on the floor to work out, and turn it off when you leave the floor. Even when the music is on, it should not be blasting loud enough for people around you to hear!
  2. Put your weights away. Often I will put out a sign with something like, “If you are strong enough to use the weights, you’re likely strong enough to put them away” or “Fun Fact: putting your weights away will help you build more muscle.” I should not have to do such things. I understand putting away a stray plate or two, but when I arrive to do a work-out or make my rounds during my shift, I should not find a stack of five or six 45# plates. . .especially right next to their rack! Furthermore, when you put them away, try to put them in their proper spot! If the racks or weight trees are labelled, don’t be that person who puts a 2.5# plate where the 45# plate goes. Believe it or not, the branches or racks are spaced out so that all of the plates fit properly.
  3. Wipe down the equipment. Whether it is a cardio machine (treadmill, bike, stepmill) or a resistance machine (leg press, leg extensions, shoulder press), if you use the equipment, wipe it down with the appropriate cleaner provided. It’s like when you’re out hiking or camping – you leave the area better than when you arrived. Same principle here. Leave the station cleaner than when you arrived to use it. Now, on a more sanitary note, it’s usually a good idea to wipe down the equipment before you use it as well. You don’t know what the previous person was wearing, where they had been, if they have been sick, or if they wiped the equipment down after using it. Every shift, without fail, I find equipment – especially the cardio equipment – with dried sweat all over it! I don’t mind wiping down equipment to make them look nice, but actually having to scrub the equipment of someone else’s sweat is a whole other matter.
  4. If you drop something, pick it up. Littering is taught to us from a young age to be a bad thing, yet you would not believe, or you might, the amount of paper towels and gum wrappers or cough drop wrappers I find on the floor throughout the shift. Our teachers did not allow this in school. I know offices do not allow their employees to litter the work-place in such a manner. Why is it suddenly ok to just leave garbage around a gym?
  5. Do not take someone’s machine or weights while they may still be in use. Quite often, I see guys who are super-setting (doing 2 or more movements in a row with no break between sets). As they leave one cable machine to do a lift or a body-weight exercise, someone else comes along and decides to take the cable attachment they were using. . .even though there were plenty of other attachments which would suit their purpose. Now the first guy is stuck having to stop his super-sets in order to find an attachment to match their original movement. Another thing I see is someone lifting heavy – let’s say a power-lifter doing a bench press – who moves around, stretching, resting appropriately between sets only to return to their bench or turn back around and find their weights are put away or have been taken by another person. That’s just rude and incredibly frustrating for someone who is training hard! Now, if the weights or cables or whatever piece of equipment has been left unattended or unused for a while (like 5 or more minutes), it’s fair game and someone just likely did not follow Etiquette Point 2.
  6. Do not get distracted between sets. The main gym where I work has 13 TVs set around the fitness room. Between those TVs and everyone on their phone, people have a tendency to hog a machine or piece of equipment (squat racks, deadlift platforms, certain bars. . .) for much longer than they need because they get distracted watching the game or checking Facebook. Every so often, between sets when I’m lifting heavy, I will check SnapChat or answer a text in the 1-2 minute break I take between sets. I also have a timer set on my phone to let me know when my break is over, and it’s time to lift again. However, I wanted to deadlift one night, and this guy took over 40 minutes on the deadlift platform (we only had one at the time). He was not maxing out. He simply kept playing on Facebook and walking around talking between his 3 sets of 12. Forty minutes for 3 x 12. To say I was annoyed is an understatement. Believe me, he heard about it the next time I saw him! If you’re going to be using a station for awhile for whatever reason, and you notice someone else kind of pacing or wanting to use the equipment you’re on, either be nice and let them get their sets in quickly or offer to let them rotate in between your sets. The guy who took over 40 minutes does lift about twice as much as me, but all we would have had to do is take off 2 plates from each side for me to lift while he was resting and put them back on for him to lift while I was resting.

There are several more points I could list, but following these 6 points will go a long way in bettering the gym experience for yourself and other members! 

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