Q: Truth be told, I don’t visit the gym often. Now when I do, I guess I’m not sure what sort of ‘unspoken rules’ there are once I’m hip-deep into my routine… Like, what’s with the bottles of cleaning solution and paper towels? Should I clean the equipment before I ‘mount’ or after? Is there a Gym Etiquette I’m unaware of? – Allen
A: Glad you asked! There is a gym protocol, and because the rules are often unspoken, it can be hard to know the ropes.
Cleaning equipment when you’re done is rule number one. Using the sanitizer provided, be sure to wipe down machine seats and handles, as well as equipment—mats, barbells, etc. “If your gym does not offer wipes, put in a request with the manager that they do so,” suggests FitSugar. And if you’re going to work up a good sweat, bring a towel!
OTHER COMMON GYM COURTESIES:
Share the equipment. 30 minutes is the general time slot for cardio machines, especially if others are waiting or it’s a busy time of day. On the other hand, if you’re waiting for equipment, try not to rush people through their workout. Itching to start the next station in your circuit? Instead of hovering, pacing and clearing your throat, find something else to do and come back when they’ve finished their reps.
Let people work out in peace. Should you give that cute guy in spin class your number? Hmm… In general, it’s best not to chat, flirt or offer advice at the gym unless clearly invited. Most people are just there to exercise. But you think they’re interested? Here are some guidelines.
Show up for class on time. It’s pretty close to impossible to make a stealthy entrance… and put down your keys… remove your shoes… pick up equipment… negotiate a spot on the floor… and smuggle your way gracefully into the middle of a workout. Let others get the full benefits of the class free of disruption. If you’re running more than 5 minutes behind schedule, wait ’til the next class.
Shhh… The gym isn’t the library, of course, but most people enjoy keeping the noise level low. If you want to raise eyebrows (or, at some gyms, get thrown out): gab loudly on your cell phone, drop dumbbells on the rack, and sing along to your iPod Shuffle. Need to add a little gusto to your bench presses? Explains James on That’s Fit, “A little grunting is OK, but it shouldn’t sound like a Lamaze class.”
Don’t over-expose. There’s nothing wrong with a quick in-the-buff moment while you’re changing in the locker room. But strut your stuff too long and you’ll make others uncomfortable. The same goes for what you’re wearing (or not wearing) outside the locker room.
Be considerate of the treaders and spinners behind you: avoid revealing fitness wear, stinky gear, and clothing that doesn’t offer proper support. And if you’ll be bending over, lifting, or taking a yoga class, please choose clothes that will keep you covered in every pose.
It’s easy to get lost in a workout trance, but try to be aware and courteous at the gym. It’ll make your time there more enjoyable and keep you off fellow fitness-seekers’ hit lists.
Have a gym pet peeve to add? Tell us about it!