In my world travels I have had quite a few experiences in the gym that break the code and would certainly be against public gym etiquette. I’ve always been a stickler for respect and following the rules, in and outside the gym.
So here I am, helping you to not be dick in gym.
In Santiago Chile I was performing some heavy front squats for three reps. The rack was wall facing, as was I. There was about a foot and a half of space between the rack and the wall, and about three to four feet between me and the wall.
One rep in, I’ve got 175 pounds in the front rack position, veins popping, everything braced, I’m concentrating on not dying, and a girl walks between the rack and the wall (directly in front of me) and says “cuantos?”
Time stopped. What the hell is going on? I was dumbfounded. I stood there, still trying not to die, and came out of my stunned state as she continued to repeat herself, “cuantos?…cuantos?” In the most annoyed voice possible, I said “DOS MAS!”
I dropped into my last two reps in an absolute rage. Oh, to make it even better…she didn’t move until I re-racked the weight. So I looked through her for my remaining reps, gathered my self, and attempted to process what the hell just happened.
Girlfriend clearly didn’t think the situation was weird. And maybe in Chile, talking to people while they are trying not to die is acceptable. But let me tell you, that is NOT acceptable in the U.S. and is definitely against gym etiquette.
If you need to ask someone how many more sets they have (it happens), you need to wait at an appropriate distance and ask them once they have completed their reps and collected themselves.
This one is pretty simple. I don’t care if the weight was out before you used it or not. Put that shit back when you’re done. It has a place that it belongs. Shall we go back to kindergarten to review that we need to put things back in their rightful places?
There is nothing more annoying that approaching a bench or squat rack, having no clue if someone is still using it because the weights are loaded; and then having to unload the weights once you find out some lazy bastard just left them there so you could unload them instead. Can you sense my annoyance with the subject?
Not only do you need to put the weights back; you need to put them in their proper place (as stated above). If you used a 20lb dumbbell, then it doesn’t make much sense to put in where the 30lb dumbbell goes…that will only cause a cascade of improper weight placement for some innocent to soul to fix later. Rude. Don’t be rude.
Yes, this needs to be addressed.
I don’t care what kind you wear. The unwritten code does not discriminate on what type of deodorant is used. But it does support that you need to be considerate to those around you. They are using the same gym that you are. They are breathing the same air. And they don’t want that air to be tainted with your body odor.
If you don’t believe in deodorant, then you better not stink. People have their beliefs. And that’s fine. If you want to go there…then what if I believe in not wiping after I poop and decide to drop some logs before my lift? You catch my drift? No pun intended. Wear deodorant (of your choice of course) or don’t stink.
Our next gym etiquette 101 is closely related to keeping the body odor under control.
Some people sweat more than others. That’s fine. Sweat is natural. But your sweat is your sweat and it does not need to be shared with others. Keep it to yourself. If you cannot keep it to yourself, lay a towel down on the bench or equipment you’re using. If your sweat is so aggressive that it goes through the towel and there are remnants of your body fluids on the equipment, THEN CLEAN IT OFF!
Nobody wants to lay in your sweat. And you don’t want to lay in anyone else’s. Be a gem, and clean it off. Gyms literally have cleaner hanging on the wall for that very purpose. Take advantage my friend. It’s like they are telling you what gym etiquette is without actually telling you. Take the hint.
You’re not having sex, you’re lifting weights.
I get it. You’re going to make noise from time to time when you’re moving heavy weights. It’s in our nature. But some of the squealing and prolonged releases I have heard in my day are disturbing to say the least. Is it for attention? Maybe. Is it necessary? I highly doubt it. Luckily most people listen to loud enough music that the orgasmic grunting may go unnoticed. But for the sake of keeping the awkwardness to a minimum, avoid any noise making at all. Just to be safe. Like I said, if you’re training maximal loads, grunting is warranted. If you’re in a commercial gym doing sub-maximal load exercise, shut up.
I’ve been in every type of gym you can think of and these gym etiquette rules apply to all. Don’t talk to people, put your weights back, keep your sweat to yourself, your odor under control, and grunting to a minimum.
Also worth mentioning, don’t give unsolicited advice. People will ask if they want help. They’re doing what they know to be right. Even if you know it’s wrong.
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I'm an adventurous introvert from Vancouver, Washington who lives on sleep + "me time." I'm a lover of lifting weights, dinosaurs, real talk and traveling with my husband. I am here to help you move better, lift more, bust the myths of the fitness industry, and inspire you to love the process.
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