Part IV. Gym Etiquette
Respect others! This one seems obvious. In fact, perhaps every other item on this list stems from the concept of respect for others. We are all working hard trying to improve our physiques. It makes no difference if you are a competitive bodybuilder, or a middle-aged person trying to get in better shape, we are all in this together. Be kind and helpful to all whom you encounter, and the gym will be a much happier place to be.

Clean up after yourself! Another obvious lesson we all should know by now. Cleaning up after yourself involves several things in the gym. First, put your weights away! Nothing is worse than having to unload someone else’s barbell or leg press or plate-loaded machine. Also, please re-rack the dumbbells in the correct place. I recently had a friend break the tip of his finger and tear off his fingernail because he got his finger smashed in between the dumbbell he was lowering to the ground and one that someone else left on the floor near where he was working out. I also see members, and even personal trainers who take dumbbells to all corners of the gym and simply leave them on the floor when they or their clients are through using them. Please put the weights back so someone else can use them and so no one trips over them! Cleaning up after yourself also includes cleaning up any sweaty, greasy stains you may leave on equipment or mats. If you are one of the many people who sweat profusely when you work out, bring a towel with you and wipe down the pads when you are through.

Don’t throw or drop weights and weight stacks! First off, throwing down your dumbbells or curling bars is dangerous. You can very easily break someone’s foot when you feel the need to launch your weights at the end of a set. I’ve never thought anyone who dropped their weights was impressive in the slightest. It’s far more impressive to lower your weights under control at the end of a brutally hard set. Secondly, dropping weights or slamming down the weight stacks on selectorized machines damages the equipment. Lastly, I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve nearly gone deaf from someone dropping their weights near me. Please don’t do it!

“Walk softly!” Similar to dropping weights, some individuals feel the need to scream and yell before, during, and/or after a set. No one wants to hear you bellow and holler, and try to draw attention to yourself. Also, show a little respect for others in the gym and don’t curse in front of them either. No one wants to hear just how large your vocabulary is! If you can’t workout with letting loose with expletives for the whole gym to hear, please workout at home.

Don’t monopolize equipment/working in! Most people have no problem allowing you to “work in” on a piece of equipment they are using. What that means is, they allow you to do your sets during their rest periods, and then you do the same, alternating until one or both of you use through. However, there are those who feel that they own the place and you’ll just have to wait until they are finished. If you have a problem with an individual like this, take it up with the gym management. This should not be allowed and the management should be happy to inform the other member of this. A second issue of concern is those individuals who “save” equipment while they are somewhere else in the gym. You may see a towel or water bottle or weight belt sitting on the equipment, but no one can be found using it. Yet, the second you move the item and try to use the equipment, a scream comes from across the gym “I’m still using that!!” I don’t care if you needed a drink of water or had to go to the bathroom or whatever. You should either wait until you’re done using the piece of equipment or come back when you are through doing whatever you’re doing and politely ask to work in with whomever is now using the equipment. But don’t try to “save” it for yourself and thereby prevent someone else from using it. Some people may tell you, “I’m supersetting!!” This means they are doing two different exercises back-to-back, with little to no rest in between. Well, if their superset requires using equipment on opposite sides of the gym from each other, they really shouldn’t be trying to save it for themselves. You have every right to use that piece of equipment while they are off doing the other half of their superset.

Use collars! Collars are small devices that secure weights to adjustable barbells. Using collars may take a few extra seconds to find the collars and put them on the barbell you’re using, but please do so. Not using collars is dangerous. I have seen countless people lose control of a barbell and have the weights slide off of one side and then the other with the loudest crash you’ve ever heard in the gym. This is unsafe for others working out nearby, and for the person using the barbell. Even if the weights don’t slide all the way off the bar, try maintaining proper form when the plates slide off part way. The chance of hurting yourself trying to control an unbalanced bar is quite high, and certainly not worth the small amount of effort it takes to put collars on the bar.

Hopefully these six things will give you a much better chance of enjoying your gym experience and will help facilitate fitness becoming a lifelong habit. Before you know it, you will be the “regular” at the gym and someone else will need your guidance. Please be a good example for our brothers and sisters of the fitness lifestyle!

Part V. Putting it all Together

Now that you have an insight into how to go about finding, joining and participating in the gym world, you need to go out and do it! The best instruction in the world won’t mean much if its not put into practice. The time has come to start achieving the fitness goals that you’ve only allowed yourself to daydream about until now. It is my hope, as well as all of us here at that you use us to help motivate, inspire and educate yourself. You have to ability to make profound changes in your life! We understand how difficult it can be to take that first step. Let us take it with you. Good luck!!

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