Gym etiquette is nothing more than respect. Respect for the equipment, others, and yourself in the gym. Everybody's there for the same reason, and nobody wants to be distracted or held up. Respect people's time. People go to the gym to get a workout in, and most people are limited on time. Don't chat someone's ear off, even if they're your buddy because there's a good chance that you are intruding on the few precious moments they can dedicate to working out. Likewise, let people know when they're talking too much. If someone is taking up your time at the gym, it's OKAY to say, "It was great talking to you, but I've really got to get back to my workout." To bring some order to the fitness centers and feel more confident while working out, it is helpful to know the basic code of conduct for gym-goers. These are easy but important things you can do to keep everyone, including yourself, safe and happy:
Put everything back where it belongs
This might be the number-one gym etiquette rule. Don't leave a trail of equipment behind you. If you use something, put it back. If a piece of equipment or weight is too heavy for you to move, ask the Fitness Representative to help you out.
Share the equipment
When the club gets crowed, equipment is like gold. This is especially true for limited equipment, such as squat racks and bench press racks. If you're going to squat, then squat; don't make people wait for you to take the perfect selfie or finish talking with a friend. If there's no one around, feel free to use what you want, but the minute people start piling in, be willing to share.
Wipe things down after you use them
Everyone else at the club is counting on you. Please wipe down your machines, barbells, floor mats and anything else you may have used. Even if you "didn't sweat that much," wipe it down. This is basic gym etiquette and reduces the smear of sweaty germs across the equipment. Especially with the pandemic still in full effect, please make sure you are thinking about the next person that will use the piece of equipment after you. And to be extra safe, you are welcome to wipe equipment down before using it while still wiping afterward, too.
Respect personal space
Better weather is upon us, and the club is going to get more crowded. No matter how many Members are using the Club, you should still respect everyone's personal space and maintain social distancing if possible. Not only is it uncomfortable to exercise in close proximity with a stranger, but it's dangerous. One failed attempt at an overhead press could turn out to be broken feet for both of you. You might try to protect your fellow gym-goers' personal space, but that doesn't mean they'll do the same for you. If you feel like someone is encroaching upon your area, let them know. If an area is too crowded, work out at a different machine and then circle back when the area clears out. This rule also applies to group exercise classes whether you are getting out mats for a yoga session or staking your claim for space in an aquatic class.
Be mindful of your surroundings
The gym can be a dangerous place if you aren't alert. Just as you should stay aware of your surroundings during outdoor workouts, stay aware in the weight room and functional training areas, too. For example, don't start a set of kettlebell swings without first making sure you have adequate space and use the mirrors to be sure no one is walking up behind you and in danger of getting in your way. Look out for anyone else swinging a kettlebell or other weight when walking from one place to another. Make sure walkways are clear before moving stations and keep an eye out for machines that have plate-loaded arms.
When in doubt, follow the Golden Rule - "Treat others as you would like them to treat you" and you will most likely have made the right choice when it comes to gym etiquette. If you have any further questions, need encouragement or suggestions, you are welcome to reach out to any of our Fitness Representatives or Personal Trainers.
Thanks to Jenna Amazzalorso-Kwasek Franciscan Health Fitness Centers Chicago Heights Program Leader for contributing to this blog.