Are you scared to go into the gym and look like an absolute newbie? Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. Going in blind can be daunting and can be a huge contributor to gym anxiety (which is very common by the way). For all of you consistent gym goers out there, you’re not off the hook just yet! It’s time to scratch up on your gym etiquette and be an example for anyone starting out at the gym (because we all know they are probably looking at you for cues.)
We’ve created the ultimate guide to gym etiquette, so you can enter the gym ready to confidently smash out your workout.
Bring a towel and wipe down the equipment!
First and foremost, don’t forget to bring a trusty gym towel. It doesn't have to be a giant beach or bath towel, just something that will cover part of the machine when you use it. This is to avoid the transfer of sweat or dirt while you’re working out. But we’re all human and sweat gets in places we don’t want it to. Your gym will have paper towel, disinfectant spray or wipes so you can wipe down the machine once you’re done. Everybody should do this, even if the machine looks clean.
Think about it like this; if you were watching someone use a machine and they got up, left a big sweat mark and didn’t wipe it down, would you go and use it right away? Probably not. Especially in post-pandemic times, we should all be more conscious of our general hygiene.
Don’t work out in front of the weight racks.
Now that you’re in the gym, put your bag away and find what equipment you want to use. It’s totally normal to look around the gym and ask questions to the staff. It’s a new place, of course you’re not going to know where everything is! Now here’s the real stitch. Whatever you’re doing, don’t do your workout in front of weight racks. A dumbbell rack or any kind of weight rack is where people go to find weights to use. If you’re working out right in front of it, they will either wait until you’re done, won’t get their weights at all or they’ll get grumpy and ask you to move.
If you were wanting to use a dumbbell and someone was standing right in front of the rack, you’d probably just watch and wait until they move right? Don’t be that person. If you’re unsure as to where you can do a workout, ask the staff! There will usually be a floor area or a free weight section where you can use the space and not interfere with anyone's workout.
Re-rack your weights!
If you’re at the stage where you’re using weights, whether that be on a smith machine, free weights, dumbbells, you name it. You should always put them back where you got them. We know it can be annoying, especially once you’ve finished your workout and your arms are tired and weak. However, if you don’t take the weights off you might make it harder for someone else to use them after you.
For example, if you’re using a free weight squat rack and you leave your weights on the bar, the next person might not be strong enough to take them off. They will either injure themselves, not do the workout at all, or have to ask someone to take them off for them. We’re all human and sometimes we forget but try to make it a habit!
Don’t hog the machines
When you’re just starting out at the gym, it’s easy to find one place and stay there the whole time. Try not to make this place a machine. If your gym is small, there's not going to be a multitude of options and even if there is, don’t forget to share.
Don’t mistake this for rushing. You’re paying the same amount as everyone else, so you can do your workout at a pace that is right for you. But if you can tell the gym is busy and people are wanting to use the machine, don’t spend an entire hour using the leg press.
Don’t slam your weights
Apart from being dangerous, most gyms actually have a rule stating that you can’t slam your weights. Slamming weights is typically signs of an obnoxious lifter. A term called ‘ego-lifting’ is when you’re lifting more than you should be, purely to show off. Most of the time, slamming your weights means your sacrificing form and lifting heavier than you can. Keep this in mind when you’re deadlifting especially! Try your best not to distract other members of the gym and keep the grunting and moaning to a minimum.
The gym can be an amazing place, where you can blow off some steam and work hard to achieve your results. A healthy gym community requires everyone to do their part in making a safe, fun and welcoming environment. It’s not as overwhelming as it might seem. Everyone is focusing on themselves and are more concerned about what they are doing than what you are doing. If going to the gym makes you feel slightly uncomfortable, good! Staying in your comfort zone won't get you anywhere. All you really need is a positive attitude and good hygiene. Let's get gymming!