We are fast approaching that time of the year where people will begin to realize they never followed through with their 2018 New Year Resolutions. Many are already preparing for their upcoming rush into the gym in January of 2019 to be a part of the new mad rush of Resolutioners that the gym regulars look forward to with the same enthusiasm as a root canal without anesthetic while simultaneously having a colonoscopy performed. One of the big issues with the influx of newbies is that they may not know about proper gym behavior!
Most gyms have a set of written rules posted on the wall somewhere conspicuous. These lists generally cover the basics like “Don’t drop the weights” and “Put your plates away when you are done” and “wipe up your sweat”. If you are working out somewhere like Planet Fitness the rules also include things like “no lifting heavy weights” and “no getting stronger” and of course “don’t ever accidentally let out a grunting sound or we will set of an alarm bell and scare the crap out of everyone in the gym”. These rules (the non-Planet Fatness rules anyway) are all there to keep the gym clean and organized. Along with these rules there are quite a few Unwritten Rules of the Gym that are passed along from gym regulars to gym newbies. In the event that no one has ever filled you in on these – I am here to help enlighten you! Keep in mind that the Unwritten Rules may vary based on the type of gym you are in, but these are just a few that apply almost universally.
- Do not mess with someone’s weights while they are using them! That means don’t take weights off or add weights onto a machine or barbell that someone is using, even if they are taking a break between sets – and ESPECIALLY while they are in the middle of a set! Now this doesn’t apply of course if the person has asked you to change the weights, or you have asked them if it is OK to do it. You would think this is common sense, but you’d be surprised!
- Don’t talk to someone during their set. Another one that you would expect to be very obvious, but for some people it just isn’t! If you want to ask someone how much longer they have on a piece of equipment – wait until they are taking a break between sets to ask. If you want to ask what they are doing, wait until after. Most of us “gym regulars” are more than happy to give you pointers and talk to you – as long as we aren’t in the middle of a set!!
- Don’t do your workout while standing right in front of the weight rack. This one is less obvious to some people, judging from how frequently it happens. What I mean is: Don’t walk up to the dumbbell rack, pick up your dumbbells, take half a step back, and start doing your set. You are blocking everyone else from being able to get to the rack, and you can rest assured that at least one person is trying to decide which size weight plate they are going to use to smack you in the back of the head if you don’t move in the next 30 seconds.
- If there is room, don’t get into someone else’s space! By this I mean that if someone is using a bench, you shouldn’t walk over 2 feet away from it to start doing your set of curls – you are going to be distracting them and you could potentially get hit by a dumbbell if they “accidentally” drop it too close to your foot. In some gyms this is unavoidable, but if there is room – use it!
- You don’t need to scream on every rep. Every gym has a “screamer” – and if you can’t figure out who it is at your gym, maybe it is you! I’m not talking about making some noise on your heaviest exertions – that is not the same thing. Come to the gym on my leg day when I’m doing a 60 rep set on leg press… you’re going to hear noises. The “screamer” is the gym that thinks he is so hardcore that he has to make sure everyone else knows it by screaming at the top of his lungs on every rep of every set. A gym I used to go to had a guy that literally yelled every time he moved any weight – from his lightest warm-up set to his heaviest work set the scream was the same. You could hear him from the other side of the weight area even with your headphones on! Don’t be that guy – we all hate that guy and secretly want to drop a 45lb plate on his foot.
Okay… that’s just a few, but those are probably the rules that get violated the most by gym newbies.
Follow proper gym etiquette and you’ll have a much better time at the gym!