Gym Etiquette – Do You Have It?

Gym Etiquette – Do You Have It?

My first time in a real gym was at the age of 17, that’s actually, exactly 17 years ago. At the time gyms were very different, not inside, but more the population going to the gym. Men were typically hovering around the weightlifting equipment, while women where on their cardio machines. People also didn’t have their phones and there were no selfie or dating apps, so yes, the gym was a very, very different place.

At 17 my goal was to learn how to really ‘lift’ and so I employed a personal trainer to ‘show me’ how to perform a variety of exercise correctly. It was to my surprise that she also took a great deal of time, showing me proper gym educate. She was a professional figure competitor, and to her it was important that women know their way around a gym.

Today 17 years later, I have my Masters degree in Exercise Science, a bunch of training credentials and – I actually own a Martial Arts Academy and Fitness Facility with my husband.

I’ve been lifting and swinging and training in my gym for so long now, a gym that is far more geared towards a variety of free weights and group classes that I haven’t actually been to a large corporate gym for over a decade, and when I steeped into one last week, my head began to spin.

Because of my degree in Exercise Science and my extensive kettlebell work and certifications a large gym chain approached me to do some work for their kettlebell curriculums, and so I entered for the first time in a long time a big, multi level gym,  complex.

As I entered the large weight machine crowded floor I was literally appalled by how much things have changed (and not always for the better).

I can easily say that over fifty percent of the people in the facility had zero gym etiquette – in fact I don’t think most of the people going to gyms even know that such a thing exists.

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  1. Would You Like To Rotate In?

When I was being educated on gym etiquette this was the very first thing I was taught. If you are doing a four set series of lat-pull downs and there’s a person standing at your side waiting, you simply MUST ask him or her “Want to rotate in?” – those are the key words that must be said in a crowded gym. Then you just do your set and stand up (after wiping down the seat) and wait for the person rotating in to do theirs.

Perhaps even more important then with cardio equipment, with weights you can not hog the area of the machine.

2. Be Present -And DON’T Jump Onto A Machine When Someone Is Using It

I was in my third set on the leg press (the only one in this gym) when I got up to add another weight plate on, and yes, a guy jumped onto the machine (and no, he didn’t ask me to rotate in) and yes, he stayed on it for 15 minutes, lifting and texting.

If I was a member of this gym I would have probably cancel my membership.

I get it, we all live our lives in our own worlds, but in the gym, something so valuable and so sacred to so many, be mindful and be present and just don’t be an as’hole.

2. Get Off Your Phone And Workout (Or At Least Get Off The Machine If You’re On Your Phone)

When I started training at seventeen I had a beeper (I know!), so forget about selfies and texting and twitter and hinge. But today we all live ‘plugged’ in and ‘tuned’ out.

But at the gym, during your workout it’s needless to say that you should reverse this process; have the respect for yourself and those around you to ‘unplug’ and ‘tune in’ to your body. The same workout will never be as efficient or effective if you’re resting on your phone. And, honestly the sight of this distracts the rest of us and directly effects our training experience.

3. Put Your Weights Away – And Where They Belong Please

Wow! When I was working out as a guest in this large gym, I probably spent an extra fifteen minutes looking for weight because they were out of order, or putting away other peoples weights.  In my gym we know almost every student, don’t get me wrong we have hundreds, but it’s a different mentality, a family where everyone feels accountable. In large corporate gyms people come and go as they please, but just because you are only accountable to yourself doesn’t mean you can leave your 45b weight plates on the rack, or that you can put a 20 pound dumbbell between the fifty and fifty five.

4. Know The Volume Of Your Headphones

So, thanks to some guy that was doing five sets of curls next to me, I now have the Godsmack album stuck in my head. Now I like Godsmack, but what I don’t like is the headphone noise of another person’s music in my ear. Its a simple thing – adjusting your volume, but it speaks volumes about you too, especially if you are blasting your music into everyones ears.

5. Don’t Take Business Calls On The Training Floor

No joke, I watched one guy sit on an adductor machine (picture it ladies) and negotiate a business deal. I am now sure that he is a real estate broker in NYC and that he just sold a 2 million dollar apartment in Williamsburg. Yep, all of that information, and all while some poor girl was waiting for him to get up so that she can sculpt her inner thighs too.

If you can’t help it, just turn off your phone off or leave it at home!

6. Wipe Down The Machine

So, you know those nicely folded towels they give you when you walk into the gym. No, they aren’t just for you- they are for the other members too. You need to use them to wipe down your very sweaty body imprint off of the machine.

7. Guys! Don’t Approach A Girl While She’s Training (Especially If She Has Headphones On)

I don’t have much to say about this, accept that training is training and dating is dating. I truly get the idea that you can meet someone at the gym, but do it after the workout. Slip a girl (or guy) a note with your number as you’re walking out, wait for her in the lounge, just DO NOT tap her on her shoulder and wait for her to take off her head phones, put her weights down and listen to you say… “Um, so, hey, yeah, nice ass.”

9. Don’t Try To Coach Me, Or Get Free Training

I have a Masters degree in exercise science and I specialize in kettlebell education for some of the top training colleges in the world. However, if I am doing a true high-pull or a hip thruster with a large barbell men still feel the need to tap me on the shoulder (MID SET!!!) and either ask me what exercise that is and what it works, or give me their advise about the motion… The truth is that most people don’t know how to use weights or execute basic body weight exercises, but unless you are a trainer and I am asking you – don’t start the education process or the q & a process. Especially because you never know who you are ‘trying to educate’ and because most likely (unless you have a degree or decades in the field, you are probably not understanding what, how and why the individual is doing what they are doing). And if you want to learn more about a motion – hire a trainer!

10. Choose Your Outfits Wisely

While this goes for both genders, ladies please take a good and long look in the mirror before you head out to the gym. My advise, if wearing shorts also, perhaps do a few deadlifts and squat poses at home to make sure that everything is in place and nothing is falling out. The gym is not a circus, or a singles bar or a club.

10. Know Your Sh’t

I say this to my students and clients and I would also like to make a public announcement to the rest of the fitness community — don’t make sh’t up! Look, there is only so many ways to do a squat, a lunge, a push up or a kettlebell swing. And while there are countless variations like lateral lunges, rear lunges, walking lunges, stationary lunges and so on – these are all still lunges. When you decide to for-go biomechanics, physics and sports science to suspend yourself sideways from a squat rack to do some form of a weighted reverse something or other – well, we all suffer, and you can wind up in the hospital, or, even worse on You Tube.

And if you aren’t sure on how to workout, execute proper exercises for your goals or simply act in a gym, then just invest in a trainer, even if just for a single session, to help you .