Gym Etiquette for Beginners
How to not be “that guy” at the gym in 2021.
A new year means lots of newbies flooding the gym. For long-time gym-goers this season often comes with frustration — the gym floor gets packed; machines are perpetually taken; and the dumbbell rack goes bare. Not to mention, some new members will do things like leave weights lying all around, play music with no headphones and waste time taking selfies in the squat rack.
Many newcomers simply don’t know the rules of their gym, which can make the gym feel intimidating. While every fitness facility has its own code of conduct (spoken and unspoken), a few do-nots remain constant across them all.
At the gym, treat people how you want to be treated, especially when it comes to these four gym etiquette rules.
- Don’t leave your weights on the bar or floor
Just… don’t. It’s important to rerack your weights all year long, but especially during the first few months of the year. Gyms get extremely crowded in January and remain crowded through February and March (before most people give up on their resolutions. Failure to rerack your weights means other people must walk around looking for them and spend extra time moving them around. For example, if a guy leaves 225 pounds on the squat bar and the next person to walk up is new to fitness, they likely won’t even be able to take those 45-pound plates down. Be considerate and put your weights away.
Put your stuff away when you’re done.
- Don’t walk away without wiping down your equipment
A few things: One, this is gross. Two, it spreads germs. Three, this is gross. It probably wouldn’t feel great if you went to lie down for a bench press max only to have your shirt soaked from the outside in — by someone else’s sweat. Most gyms provide antimicrobial wipes or spray to use on equipment; some even provide towels. If you aren’t sure if your gym provides these items, confirm with the front desk or bring your own towel.
Wipe things down when you’re done. Christine Sandu on Unsplash.
- Don’t hover over people using a machine you want
Don’t be a helicopter. There’s a better way to secure your spot next in line for a coveted piece of equipment. Let’s say you want to work your triceps, and someone is on the cable machine. Instead of hovering and invading the person’s personal space, simply walk up to them and ask how many sets they have left. If they say one or two, great! Tell them you’d like to use the cables next and back off to a nearby area where you can (subtly) keep an eye on the machine. Chances are that the person will look around for you when they finish their sets and wave you over. If they don’t, walk up to the machine as the person leaves. Hovering over people is never welcome: It makes people feel uncomfortable and crowded.
Let people finish in peace when they’re using a machine. 2C7A6671.jpg
- Don’t hog equipment during busy hours
All gyms have a rush hour during which everyone wants the most popular equipment. We all learned in preschool that sharing is caring, right? Take only what you need and don’t waste time in between sets. If the gym is totally empty, feel free to pull out everything you need for a circuit workout. But, if the fitness floor is packed, don’t strip others of equipment by hoarding three different pairs of dumbbells.
Oh, and one last thing…
Don’t do barbell curls in the squat rack.