Fit Tip Friday: A Lesson in Gym Etiquette

Hello and Happy Friday!

I hope you’re all having a great week so far. This has been another one of those “where has the time gone?!” weeks for me, but a lot of great things have happened for me that I’m excited to share with you in the near future 😉

Since I’ve got a little over a week until I need to step my running up in preparation for my final half marathon of the year, I’ve been spending more time in the weight room pumpin’ the iron.

Up until about six months ago I spent much of my gym rat life at the big corporate gyms. Towel service, fancy equipment, spacious change rooms, and the occasional free protein bar samples, all for an over-priced monthly fee that I was locked into with a contract.

Women chattering on their phones on the elliptical machines. Aspiring fitness models “working out” in a barely-there sports bra and booty shoots with big hair and more makeup than I’d wear to a night club. Grunting men helping one another push dumbbells that are obviously too heavy over one another’s heads as they utter the encouraging “it’s all you, bro”. And the teenage kid sitting on a bench playing with his iPhone, clearly only there so he could check in on Facebook and probably take a selfie.

Sigh. Oh how I don’t miss those days.

Since bringing my clients to an independent facility back in March, as soon as my contract with the big box gym was over I began training myself there as well. Who would have thought it would be so refreshing to be in a gym where people are actually working out?

Sure, there’s the regulars there who stand around and chit chat with one another, and every so often a big grunting meathead will make his way in, but for the most part it’s a really respectful and community-oriented place.

While barbell hip thrusts are always a little awkward, I feel substantially less uncomfortable doing them here than I did at my last gym, and I have no fear of doing lateral raises to failure because these people don’t care about what my ugly “last rep” face looks like.

But I understand that not everyone has access to a place like this, so today I’m here to share some commonly overlooked gym etiquette with you in the hopes that you can set a good example for those around you. THE POWER TO CHANGE GYM CULTURE IS IN YOUR HANDS!

A Lesson in Gym Etiquette

1. Wipe down your benches and equipment when you’re finished using them. No one wants to sit in your sweaty smelly mess.

2. Once you’re done wiping down your bench, put your dumbbells away in their proper spot. You wouldn’t leave crap lying all over the place in your living room would you?…Okay, well, even if you’re  would, don’t do it at the gym!

Re-rack your weights broSource

3. If there’s someone waiting for some equipment you’re using, let them work in between sets. I know your 10 sets of 10 reps of cable triceps extensions is a really important part of your German volume training program. But there are other people in the gym who would like to get in and out as fast as possible and don’t have 30 minutes to wait to do two sets of triceps extensions.

4. Don’t be a bench hog. Supersetting flat bench presses with incline presses is great but there’s no need for you to take up two benches. And if you plan on taking a 5 minute rest break, refer for #3 and let someone work in between your sets. Especially if….

5. You plan on being one of those individuals who spends more time on their phone than they do working out. I get it, maybe you need to get your squatting song on before you can start the next set, or maybe you just can’t wait to see who texted you. But there’s no need to sit on a bench while you check-in to tell the Facebook world you’re gettin’ your pump on, and no one wants to hear about what a bitch your co-worker is while you coast on the elliptical.

Don't be that guy.

Don’t be that guy.

6. Don’t offer unsolicited advice. I see things in the gym on a daily basis that make me think “what the fuck?” but unless someone actually asks me for help I keep my mouth shut. Just as it’s beyond my scope of practice as a Personal Trainer to offer medical advice, it’s beyond your scope of practice as a human being to tell others they’re doing things wrong and would have better results if they did it your way.

If you genuinely think someone would benefit from some advice, work at building a trusting relationship with that person first. If they feel like they need some help you’ll be their go-to person, and they may react less negatively if you ask if you can offer some friendly advice. While lots of people legit don’t know what they’re doing in the gym, there are also a lot of people who have a method behind the madness, no matter how mad it looks on the outside.

7. As an extension of #6, don’t walk up to people to strike up a conversation when they’re mid-set. At the last gym I trained at I had an employee walk up to me while I was shoulder pressing and had headphones in. She signaled for me to take my headphones out, so I put down my weights and, slightly annoyed, took out a headphone to see what she wanted. You know what she wanted? To see if I wanted a sample of a protein bar.

If there’s a fire in the building, an emergency that requires the weight room to be cleared, or a family member of mine died, then sure. Go ahead and interrupt my set. But don’t do so to offer me a sample before trying to sell me something.

8. Keep your music to yourself. I’m sure you’ve got some sick beats goin’ on, but if I can hear your music even through the music playing on my own headphones, it’s too loud. Not everyone likes gangsta rap. Shocking, I know.

9. Don’t stare. This goes for staring at people as they’re working out or staring at people while you’re mid-stretch or mid-exercise. Even if you’re genuinely interested in what someone’s doing, they don’t necessarily know that and are going to feel super uncomfortable having eyes on them as they try to hit a deadlift PR. And there’s nothing creepier than seeing someone twisted up in a stretch and catching them stare at you from underneath their armpit.

A few exercises to NEVER make eye contact with anyone while you’re doing them: seated hip adductions, weighted hip thrusts, and kickbacks on the booty blaster. You don’t want to be sending unwanted signals.

10. And finally, please remember the locker room is not your personal bathroom. I really don’t care if you moisturize your whole body, blow dry and flat iron your hair, and apply all of your makeup while still naked at home. When you’re in a public place respect those around you and at least put some underwear on. I can’t even begin to imagine what happens in mens’ locker rooms.

What’s your biggest gym pet peeve? Your best piece of gym etiquette advice? The craziest thing you’ve ever seen at a gym?


6 thoughts on “Fit Tip Friday: A Lesson in Gym Etiquette

  1. These are really good pointers!! I especially like the point about not making eye contact during awkward exercises. And this “Aspiring fitness models “working out” in a barely-there sports bra and booty shoots with big hair and more makeup than I’d wear to a night club” rings way too accurate! I’ve seen that too many times!

  2. Today, there was this guy chatting and when someone went to use the machine he hadn’t even started with yet, he come over saying that he was ‘using’ it.
    To make things worse, we placed his towel on it, but went back chatting?!? When he finally started using it for REAL, he still took long pauses to chat AND did just 3 sets of a couple of reps…. #gofigure

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