Pre-race pasta parties sure sound like a fun way to enjoy the night before the race. But does carb loading really work, and how can we use it to achieve peak performance?
The Ultimate Guide to Gym Etiquette
From yoga and spinning to circuits and supersets, there’s no right or wrong way to get in shape. Whatever it takes to break a sweat, right? But let's not leave that sweat on the mats (or that hair in the sink). From the locker room to the weight room floor, when it comes to gym etiquette there are a few dos and don’ts that everyone should follow — fitness karma points guaranteed.
Illustrations by Shannon Orcutt
The Weight Room
- Respect the headphones. Singles, feel free to mingle, but when those ear buds are in, consider that fair warning. Ms. Independent is game — for the leg press, that is.
- Wax on, wax off. Sure, we may have hit the gym to avoid doing housework, but wiping down machines is a chore with serious payoffs. (No one wants a side of germs and infectious skin diseases with their workout.)
- Lift a finger. More chores, we know… But returning free weights, medicine balls, and other equipment to their proper place is more than courteous — it might burn a few extra calories, too!
- Mind the mirror. Leave the lip gloss application, ab adoration, and smizing for the boudoir. Gym mirrors are there for form and safety, so avoid crossing in front of Mr. Military Press mid-set.
- Get in the zone. The right one, that is. From bicep curls to power cleans, there’s a proper place for everything at the gym — and trust us, you don’t want to learn the hard way.
- Share! Sometimes there just aren’t enough toys for everyone. Let a stranger “work in.” And rather than standing idly by, maximize your time and efforts with a few killer supersets.
- Easy does it. While every gym has its own policy, most prefer it to be earthquake-free. Avoid dropping heavy weights like hot cakes — and leave excessive grunting off the menu, too.
The Cardio Zone
Don’t let it all hang out. While it’s unlikely grandma’s showing up, Cardio Sculpt is a long ways from Woodstock. To keep things kosher, keep those goodies under wraps.
- Give some breathing room. It’s no secret that cardio can get a little sticky-icky sometimes. So when there’s a choice of seven free treadmills, is it really necessary to cozy up right next to Ultra-Marathon Man? Try opting for a solo run instead.
- Play it straight. Interval training aside, keep the treadmill stunts to a minimum (unless of course you’re these guys).
- No spitting, snot rocketing, or other barnyard behavior. This should go without saying, but spend enough time in a gym and you’re bound to see it once. Do not pass go; proceed directly to the hand sanitizer (stank face optional).
- No disappearing acts. Saving seats was so not fair in middle school — and not much has changed since then. So don’t expect that towel, water bottle, or fanny pack (workout fashion 911!) to mean “dibs” on the elliptical.
The Locker Room
- Put hygiene first. While some people are actually allergic to deodorant, for the rest of us, there’s no excuse for smelling like those gym socks — everywhere. And no, cologne or eau de anything isn’t exactly a quick fix.
- Groom in private. Flossing, tweezing, and blow-drying anything but the hair on your head is a big locker room no-no. When in doubt, save the iffy stuff for the homestead.
- Hide the salami. Seriously. Not everyone grew up in a naked home. Lounging, stretching, and chit chatting in the buff might feel fantastic, but not for everyone involved. We all need boundaries, right ?
- Pack it up. Bench hogs, take note: Sneakers, gym bags, laptops, and lap dogs don’t all deserve a spot on the bench. During peak hours especially, lock up those belongings to give fellow gym-goers space to suit up.
- Arrive early. Fashionably late doesn’t apply when it comes to group classes. Plan to arrive at least five minutes early to find a spot and settle in without disruption.
- Stagger. Sun salutations should be PG, so make sure the arms and legs can extend fully — without feeling up your neighbor. Like on public transportation, there’s really no excuse for an improper touch.
- Go with the flow. Class energy matters, so go ahead and chant those Intensati affirmations — but not in meditation class. There’s a time and a place for ohm-ing, panting, and screaming out reps.
- No peeping Toms! Maybe Tom was late. Or maybe he’s just taking notes. Chances are, though, the ladies (and gents) of Pole Dancing 101 aren’t appreciating the hard-core ogling from the other side of the window.
- Be kind. Now this applies to all areas of the gym: Smile, be courteous, and even try saying “hi.” (Using words instead of grunts or whistles is almost always preferable). The gym may not be the happiest place on earth (that’s Disney World, right?), but it can’t hurt to try.
Is your biggest pet peeve missing from our list? Do share — the world (or the gym at least) will be a better place for it.
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Much of this list is valuable and proper, but your standards for the locker room are for the birds. If I workout before work or a social event I have to brush my teeth, floss, trim my nose hair, and clean my ears. If I'm not in a hurry I often sit and watch a little TV in the buff. This is what a locker room is for--hygiene and relaxing. I have heard this argument from many younger people and I'm not sure when the locker room became some sort of sacred area. For the record I do respect others in the locker room. I always leave the sink cleaner than I found it, wipe-up any sloshed water, never take more than my share of bench and shower quickly when it is crowded. But I'm there to groom myself and sometimes to relax, not worry about what others think. If what I'm doing is offending you maybe you are spending too much time looking at me and not keeping your eyes averted, which is the proper locker room protocol.
Do you mean you actually sit on the chairs/sofas in the tv part of locker rooms with your bare bottom on the seat?
Perfume/cologne while working out is something I still deal with ...
Ok here ius a question. I've been hitting the gym for years and follow most of the rules above. However, there is one I have always struggled with. I love doing super-sets in the gym rotating between 3 sometimes 4 different pieces of equipment. During peek hours it is near impossible to take up 3 pieces of equipment with out seeming like a jerk or kicking someone else off the machine. I know working in with people is an option and that is what I do now but it doesn't always work out so smoothly. Any suggestions or tips? ShawnTheIssue
@PaulWintergerst ShawnTheIssue Hey Paul, it's definitely an issue we've struggled with in the past. When it boils down to it, supersets during peak hours sometimes just aren't possible, or at least without significant tweaks (for example, replacing barbell movements with dumbbells to make them more portable/easier to do in close quarters). When joining a new gym, we've made it a habit to ask about peak/off-peak hours in order to avoid any possible logjams.
OK, you didn't hear this from me, promise? Get a workout buddy who will do the supersets of 2 exercises with you. Switch up machines, and hog them as needed.
@DelfEnriquez ahhhhhhhhhhhh ya see now thats what im talkin about. 3 people even better. alright now we're talking!!
LOL just don't do it when the gym po-po are around. They don't like the bromancing boys that rotate around their golden circle of machines
@DelfEnriquez this method actually seems perfectly ethical to me. 3 people 3 machines. no problem.
1)Men/Women who are in the gym to pose... 2 reps of seated row (with a beanie hat on!) then stop and look around ... maybe stroll to the window n have a look out... then back for another 2 reps... (and they are'nt even heavy weights!)
2)Men/Women who leave empty shower gel or shampoo bottles in the shower, on the floor .... there are bins! n you wouldnt do it at home!
3)Women dying their hair in the changing rooms.. yes, it has happened!
4)Weight droppers... if you cant set the weight back down on the floor without creating an earthquake.. then maybe, its too heavy? or maybe you should throw a couple of mats down first, just to be nice like...
5) Yes, the congregation of lads hanging round the bench press... its intimidating enough for women to be over in the weights section, without having Mr Muscle leering over you when you venture towards the bench...
So, I work in a gym/Leisure centre... there are tonnes more!! lol (ones to do with the swimming pool are quite interesting too...)
Full on phone conversation on the cardio machines! If you can talk, you're not working hard enough!
i would add to this list that standing next to your friend (who is on the machine next to me) and chatting for 45 minutes about last night's activities is also best saved for the apres-workout starbucks sesh...
Someone babysitting the machines...I understand a rest between sets, but this guy was legit watching the news and just sitting there...I think he was waiting for a commercial break to start the next set!
Since I am the wellness director and personal trainer at my facility, people think they can stop me during MY workout and have me show them things or ask questions ... even when I am plugged into my Ipod and avoid making eye contact they have the guts to tap me on the shoulder and interrupt my workout. I wish I had a shirt that read "TRAINER AT WORK ...DO NOT DISTURB!" We need time to workout without interruption, too!
Julie Schaufelberger Nice point! Good to make people aware of that as well.
One missing rule, to paraphrase Wil Wheaton: "Don't be a (Jerk)."
Also Bill & Ted's corrolary to Wheaton's Law: "Be excellent to each other."
The attempting to save a machine drives me crazy. As do couples or duos hogging entire areas. I am just rude and jump in. Oops. Plus I never see anyone wiping down the machines (crotch sweat lines!) and the showers have a ton of empty bottles. I would hate to see some of these peoples homes.