The 10 commandments of gym etiquette: Part 2
The 10 commandments of gym etiquette: Part 2
Or read the post below in 5 minutes
If you haven't already, make sure you check out part 1 of this two part series on proper gym etiquette.
If you have, then let's carry on with the last 5 commandments in "The 10 commandments of proper gym etiquette".
6. DON’T DROP YOUR WEIGHTS
Unless you are trying to prevent an injury, dropping your weights is almost never acceptable. The loud noise cuts through the gym like a sharp knife, rattling the eardrums and patience of all the other members in the gym. If you can lift it up, you can place it down.
Bent over dumbbell rows and, of course, deadlifts are the two biggest offenders I’ve seen. These two exercises are great for building overall body strength, but for some reason, it seems a lot of people forget the importance of a controlled, eccentric motion in generating that strength.
Unless you are training for a powerlifting meet, when performing a deadlift the barbell should be slowly lowered to the floor, barely making a sound when making contact. If you are training for a powerlifting meet, then the local gym probably isn’t the best fit for you.
If you need to drop barbell weights, I would suggest finding an appropriately equipped powerlifting, Olympic lifting, or CrossFit style gym with bumper plates and lifting platforms. You can make all the noise you wish in these gyms as their design is built around to the sport.
I’m guilty of this type of lifting as well. However, I try my best to limit it within the walls of an appropriate gym. Respect the atmosphere of your gym and don’t drop your weights. Also, remember that you end up getting stronger in the long run if you focus on control of the eccentric phase, or lowering down, of an exercise.
7. ALLOW OTHER MEMBERS TO “WORK IN” WITH YOU WHENEVER POSSIBLE.
The gym can get busy, especially if you go during peak hours right before and after the 9 to 5 workday. As such, there will be times when another member, or two, would like to use the same piece of equipment you are using at that moment.
There is almost no reason why someone else shouldn’t be able to use the equipment with you between your exercise sets.
Even if you are doing heavy sets of barbell squats with 400 pounds and the other person will only be able to do a hundred pounds, the amount of time it takes to strip the bar or load it again is so short it would be selfish to consider it a reason not to let them work in.
The gym’s equipment is paid for by the membership dues of all the members, in effect making it belong to all members equally. Allowing others to work in with you, whenever possible, helps to improve the environment of the gym and can create new friendships among members.
8. DON’T CIRCUIT TRAIN IN EVERY CORNER OF THE GYM
Circuit training is an excellent way to get your heart rate up and get the most exercise done in the shortest amount of time. I love ending workouts with a circuit as it helps burn the last bit of energy I might have before I finish for the day. Try to pick exercises that you can perform within a relatively small footprint of the gym floor.
In other words, don’t be running all over the gym, in between members and equipment, to get to the next exercise of your circuit. This will annoy those you narrowly avoid dodging while running past them. It will also make it more likely the equipment you select becomes taken up by another member while you moved to the other side of the gym for the next exercise.
You should be able to accomplish a circuit within a relatively small area and with minimal impact on the other members around you.
9. DON’T USE THE EQUIPMENT IMPROPERLY OR COME UP WITH “NEW” WAYS OF USING IT
The human body is an incredible machine capable of incredible physical performance. Even still, it is a delicately balanced network of bones and tissue meant to accomplish work through specific ranges of motion and body patterns.
The likelihood of injury when performing physical activity is relatively small when the bones and muscles are working under manageable load, and the joints are healthy and mobile.
Conversely, when joints are not healthy and mobile, and when the body is forced to perform exercise in unnatural and jerky movement patterns the risk of serious injury to muscles, ligaments, tendons, and bones exponentially go up.
This is called “jacking your shit up” in the gym, and I’ve seen it happen on more than one occasion from a member using equipment in clearly the wrong way. A quick search for “gym fail” on YouTube will demonstrate some of the ways you should not be using the equipment in a gym. A good rule to follow is if you don’t know how to use something, ask a member of the gym staff.
Alternatively, many machines have graphics on them showing the proper way to use it. Failing those two options, and if you still don’t quite know the best way to use something, leave it for a time in the future when you can hire a personal trainer to show you. Don’t decide to guess at the best way to use the equipment. Most importantly, do not, under any circumstance, come up with your own unique way to use a machine clearly designed to be operated in one way and one way only.
10. LEARN THE BEST WAY TO SPOT SOMEONE AND ASK FOR A SPOTTER IF YOU NEED ONE
Go to the gym for a long enough time, and it’s inevitable you will be asked to help another member out by spotting them through an exercise.
What is spotting you ask?
Why it’s the subtle art of not allowing weight to crush the member to death should they not be strong enough lifting it back up. Those doing it for the first time usually panic and over spot. That is, they help the weight back up more than is necessary.
The member who asked you for a spot likely feels confident enough they can get the weight up, yet is cautious enough to know they could run into trouble and a spotter such as yourself is a good insurance policy. When you spot someone, ask them how many reps they expect to get as well as if they have done this weight for that amount of reps before.
Ask them how they prefer to be spotted. For example, during an incline dumbbell press would the person prefer to be helped from the elbows or the wrists? They will not be mad or think you’re incompetent for asking a few questions. In fact, they will likely be happy you are so concerned with helping as best you can.
It’s a good rule to have your hands close by, but not touching, the area of the bar or body from which you will be helping. Most people hate it when you touch the bar or place your hands on their elbows before they need actual assistance, as they may feel cheated from a good rep. Have your hands close by, but do not apply any assistance until it’s entirely necessary.
A few of these rules of etiquette might seem obvious. A few may have never crossed your mind. Just remember that the gym is a communal space where people much like yourself go to work on achieving their goals and creating the healthiest version of themselves.
It’s important that you and the other members work to create a space that serves as an enjoyable and uplifting environment by keeping it clean and free of clutter.
If you see someone else disregarding the house rules or not following proper gym etiquette, feel free to enlighten them in an appropriate way and time, if you like.
However, don’t become the gym’s police officer. It’s my opinion that leading by example is the best way to help others adopt a similar practice of respect and etiquette and serves to keep you on the good side of others. No one likes to be called out for their actions, so tread lightly and focus on your own good habits and behavior in the gym.
As always, thank you so much for taking your time to read this article. If you got something from it, or you know someone who would benefit from this article, please feel free to share.
If you have any questions or suggestions for future articles or videos, please leave me a message in the comments or reach out to me on social media!
And remember, with everything in life the secret to success is getting started. So get started!