My first time in a real gym was probably about 17 years ago. At the time, gyms were very different. Men typically hovered around the weight-lifting equipment while women were on their cardio machines. Fast forward and this stereotype still holds true to a degree, but I think most are realizing that strength training is for everyone. Lastly, people also didn’t have their phones to take “swolfies” aka selfies while getting “swole.”
Today, I have a bachelor’s degree in sports management and marketing with a Certification for Personal Training from NASM. Anyways, I’m going to share some funny and annoying observations that I’ve made over the years.
So here are some things that drive us “gym-rats” crazy and things not to do if you’re new to the gym scene:
1. Hog machines. When I was being educated on gym etiquette, this was the very first thing I was taught. If you’re doing a four-set series of lat pull-downs or super-setting between multiple machines and there’s a person standing at your side waiting, ask him or her “Want to rotate in?”
2. Steal machines when they’re being used. Have you ever gone to get water or got up to add another plate to your machine to find that someone else had taken it? I get it, we all live our lives in our own worlds, but in the gym you should be mindful, present and self-aware. Simply ask a person that you have seen around a particular machine if they are finished or if you can rotate in. It’s that easy.
3. Take selfies and text. I’m guilty of texting in between sets, but let’s all try to be more respectful of ourselves and other gym users; unplug and tune in to your body. I started leaving my phone in my jacket or gym bag and have noticed that I’m much more efficient during my workouts. All you need is your iPod and headphones. Put the phone away and lift.
4. Blast music on your headphones. Thankfully most headphones are noise-cancelling these days, but there are still some who are blasting music to the point where others can hear it. Or even better yet, singing while doing cardio and lifting. I’m all for someone being “in-the-zone,” but again, be mindful and self-aware.
5. Take business calls on the floor. No joke, I watched a guy sit on a shoulder press machine and negotiate a business deal. Meanwhile, everyone around him is looking at him in awe. No call is really that important and if it is, take it outside or call them when you’re done.
6. “Forget” to wipe down machines and/or “forget” to re-rack your weights. You need to wipe your very sweaty body imprint off of the machine or bench. Also, if you can put the plates on the machine or the bar, you can take them off. And re-rack them in the proper spot on the plate rack. No excuses. Nobody wants to unrack 1,000 lbs off the leg press machine before they use it, and nobody wants to dig through 5 lb plates to get to a 45 lb one or vice versa.
7. Hit on people. I 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. Do not tap her on her shoulder and wait for her to take off her headphones, put her weights down, and listen to you come up with some cheesy pick-up line. Think classy and be classy.
8. Try to coach or offer free advice. Even good trainers won’t do this and interrupting anyone while they are in the middle of lifting is just not okay. However, if you want to learn more about a particular exercise or movement, either research it yourself or ask a trainer.
9. Show too much skin. Please take a good, long look in the mirror before you head out to the gym. If you’re wearing shorts, do a few dead-lifts and squat poses at home to make sure that everything is in place and nothing is falling out. Or maybe your physique is just incredible and you have to show off all your hard work. Just remember, the gym is a public place and try not to bother others who may not be as confident.
10. Not knowing what you’re doing. Don’t make stuff up or be the next person featured on a “gym fail” meme or video. If you aren’t sure how to work out, execute proper exercises, or simply act in a gym, then invest in a trainer. Even if it’s for just a single session and most trainers will offer a free session to educate new gym members.
Can you think of any other pet peeves out there that this list is missing?