A gym is a place of worship for many. And just like any other places of worship. There is a code of conduct that needs to be followed in the gym as well. Your gym walls will have a lot of these rules pasted. But there is a set of unwritten rules one must know about. These rules are more of etiquettes or manners one must carry along with them when at a gym. Why must you know and follow these gym rules and etiquettes? Because you do not want to be “that” person in the gym.
A gym can be a very terrifying place for newcomers. It can be brutal. And if you are “that” person in this menace then you are going to have a tough time dealing with the uncalled for stares. So what do you do to avoid being “that” person? Simply follow all the gym rules and gym etiquettes listed down below.
Some seasoned gym-goers should also have a look at these gym rules. I have seen a lot of these veterans not caring about these rules. One should follow all these rules just not to avoid being “that” person but to also maintain a comfortable environment for everyone in this worship place (gym).
Let’s start with our list of gym rules and gym etiquettes:
Re-rack your weights.
This is the most important rule of all. Imagine someone just squatted 220 Kg and left the weights there and you are to squat next. Very frustrating right? Imagine removing all those plates and tiring yourself just doing that. Or worst you skip the exercise completely and ruin your progress. Take another scenario where you make a fool of yourself after tripping on a dumbbell lying around. Basically no one likes to be laughed at or clean after you just like you do not like to clean for somebody and do not like to be a joke. So even if it is a 2.5 Kg plate you were using. Remove it and keep it at its place.
Properly re-rack your weights.
Mastering just the above practice is not enough. Re-racking has two parts to it. First, making it a habit and second, doing it properly. The first thing you should do in a gym is to learn where which plate or dumbbell goes and second, to rack them back at the place where they belong. Do not place a 20 Kg plate over a 5 Kg plate or keep a 10 Kg dumbbell beside a 50 Kg dumbbell. Imagine, you needed a 5 Kg plate and the only available one was behind two 25 Kg plates. Frustrating, time-consuming and extra effort right? So don’t! And if you have done it before and then the next day cursed someone for doing it. Then basically you just cursed yourself.
Do not monopolize.
Keep the monopoly to your board game nights. Do not carry your hoggers attitude to a gym. Never hog all the equipment you need for the full workout in advance. Go one by one. If it is a busy hour and you see people waiting for the equipment you have been lazily using for the past half an hour, get off it! If you are doing dumbbell lunges right now and have kettlebell swings for your next exercise. Leave the kettlebell to its place. Do not treasure it by your side till your 5 sets of lunges complete scared it will magically disappear by the end of your lunges. Someone who needs a kettlebell will probably be done by the time your lunges finish. So, never hog equipment. It is a gym not a place to collect and treasure things.
Learn to share.
If you are going to hog even after having read the above point. Then at least follow this point. Although, it will be only for limited equipment. So if after walking on a treadmill for 45 minutes, uncalled for stares and curses find their way to you. Do not complain. No one can save you because you deserve it. If you are using a piece of equipment like a pec-dec machine. And someone is waiting for you to get completed. Ask them to tag along and do alternatively. sharing is caring after all. And also the gym does not belong to you! Also, do not be foolish to start caring every time. It is impractical to share the squat rack with someone who squats an empty bar while you squat 150 Kg. Be caring but also be mindful enough to know when to share.
Give advice only when asked.
No one likes a “know it all“. If someone is doing something extremely wrong and putting themselves in danger. Then the help is great. But if you see someone not doing an exercise how you do it or what seems fit to you. Do not walk into that uncharted territory and evade their peace of mind. An exercise can be done in various ways and “your way” is not the only way and may not be the best as well. So keep it to yourself unless someone comes to you and asks you how a certain exercise needs to be done.
Never make fun of others.
Congrats! you achieved a shredded body with a six-pack. But it does not give you the right to make fun of a person who just joined the gym with a goal in his mind. It is very demotivating and can destroy someone mentally. Everyone in the gym is there to achieve certain goals. And everyone’s goal is different and their own. Even you started lousily and had there been a bully like you bullying you in your initial days then you would have still been a potato stuffing chips on a couch.
Instead of making fun, motivate them and lend them a helping hand if they are helpless and do not know their way around. They will thank you. Also, never record someone if they are doing something in an odd funny manner. You do not have the ticket to invade someone’s privacy. Also, it can get you a legal action. So don’t!
Carry a towel.
Carry and learn to use a towel. It is more for your hygiene than the gym or any other person’s. Germs love the gym. They love your favourite barbell, dumbbell and other equipment. Everyone’s sweaty imprints everywhere makes it even worse. So for the sake of your own health, use a towel to wipe off the sweat. Also, always bath after a workout to get rid of those germs. Bathing will also help you to not stink.
Clean equipment after using.
If you sweat a lot. Chances are you will leave sweaty imprints even after using a towel. So ask your gym to provide you with tissues and a cleaning spray to clean those imprints from a bench or a machine you just got off. And do not use your towel to do so. You will just make it worse for your own hygiene and for others’. Ask your gym to keep tissues and cleaning sprays in the gym if they do not.
Do not clog the water station.
Okay, so you like to keep yourself hydrated. That is good. But do not clog the water station filling your gallon bottle to the brim. If you see people waiting and you know your bottle will take some time filling. Let the others with small shakers use the station first. Take your time afterwards. And in case you are planning to go through all the ritual of adding your pre-workout/protein/BCAA at the station itself then don’t! Do it someplace else and not at the water station. It is not your home. There are other people in the queue. Learn to respect everyone.
Abide by your gym rules.
Every gym has its own certain rules. They vary from gym to gym. Please follow them. If you cannot see them written anywhere. Ask the gym staff to guide you through them if any. Even if it is an illogic weird rule, follow it if you plan on joining that gym.
Do not exercise when sick.
You know a gym is already a place full of germs. And you know what is worst? Making it worse by being in a gym when you are sick and people can notice it. I bet you will not like someone sneezing around you in the gym and asking to use the same piece of equipment alternatively. Likewise, people will hate you for walking sick like a zombie spreading more germs in the gym. Also, if you are sick. It is better to rest at home and recover and not make thing worse for your own immune as well. So if you are sick then stay away from the gym, period!
Do not over-grunt or vocalise excessively.
I get that you went for that one extra rep you thought you could not. You probably exerted yourself doing that and during that one rep, you grunted hard. Fair! It is reasonable and justifiable as well. But if you are doing 5 sets of smith machine squats with a weight which is very light for you and you are doing 20 reps per set and you are grunting like you are squatting 500 pounds for a one-rep max. Then stop! You are trying to prove your machoism by doing something very softly.
And if people make fun of you for this and you show them the above 6th point to bash them. Then stop again! Because you called for the attention to make a joke out of yourself. You are nothing but an attention-seeker if you are grunting at places where there is no need to do it. People do not like an attention-seeking show-off grunting doing baby weights.
Rest with your phone somewhere else, not on machines and benches.
Resting in between sets and exercises is justifiable. But doing that while scrolling through your Instagram feed and blocking the machines and other equipment for other people for several minutes is not. Sit or stand someplace else and empty a machine or bench when not using it instead of couching on it with your phone. If you have more sets on it then the right thing to do is rest for a minute or two and focus more on breathing and other aspects of making your time in the gym useful. Instead of scrolling through your Instagram feed and wasting yours and other peoples time.
Be mindful of the space.
During peak hours when working out. Be aware of the space around you. If your gym does not have a running track built inside and you get an urge of jogging. Do it outside and not inside during peak hours. If you are going to perform an exercise that takes up certain space just do it where there is space instead of pushing people or hurting them with equipment and apologizing afterwards. If setting up for a deadlift, clean and jerk etc ask people politely to step a little aside. Asking politely is any day better than hurting someone, scaring someone or hurting yourself with a weird form trying to make a compromise in a limited space.
So be aware of the space you are going to perform an exercise in and ask people politely to step a little aside id needed. No one will deny you some space. People in the gym are understanding for they know these things.
Do not be a chatterbox.
If an acquaintance of yours is working out and has headphones on. Do not go up to them and start talking while they are performing an exercise. First, they are in the middle of an exercise and second, they cannot hear you. Bonus. they do not want to hear you because they are in the middle of a set. So do not disturb their focus and wait patiently till their set completes. If you cannot resist the urge to wave them hello then just give them a nod from where they can see. Also, do not engage someone in long chats during the time they are resting in between sets. In short, keep conversations to a bare minimum in the gym. Do not waste your and others time. No point dragging your gym sessions longer with unmeaningful chats.
Never block someone’s view of the mirror.
If someone is performing a set in front of the mirror. Do not block their view. If the dumbbell rack is right there and you want to grab a dumbbell. Then wait for their set to finish. It messes with the focus of the individual performing the exercise. A person performing an exercise in front of the mirror is probably trying to focus on the body part they are working or checking their form while doing the exercise. Seeing your head in the middle is the last thing they want to see. So have patience. If a person allows you to do whatever you want to and they are not really using the mirror then only proceed. So never block someone’s view of the mirror and keep patience.
Sing in your head.
It is a gym and not “The Voice Kids”. So sing in your head. No one asked you to sing or want to hear you sing. If you just combined a new playlist, even then no one wants to know what all songs does it have and which one are you listening to at the moment. So keep it to your head. It can get very irritating for other people around and you do not want to be “that” person in the gym who thinks he is Sonu Nigam. So do not sing out loudly and keep it in your head.
The only takeaway here is, practice all the gym rules and gym etiquettes mentioned above. And avoid being “that” person at all cost. Because everyone dislikes “that” person.