Mind Your Manners – A Note on Gym Etiquette

As a frequent gym-goer throughout the last decade(ish), I’ve seen some crazy things. The older man sporting 70s style shorts (are they ever…), socks (knee-length) and sweatband (do they even still sell those?). The woman in full-face paint (To work out? Really?). The scrawny teenager determined to lift his body weight (give it a couple years, it’ll save you a hernia).

Truthfully, the characters don’t bother me. They may make me giggle, but as long as they’re going about their workouts in a safe manner, respectful of those around them, I don’t care what they wear, or how they look.

There are a few rules, however, that I believe should be followed by everyone – novice or bodybuilding champ. It’s a matter of common courtesy, and in some cases, even safety. So here they are, my gym commandments (or rules to lift by):

  • Don’t waste your time – or mine. Many of us do not view our workouts as social hour, but as our opportunity to relax or de-stress, start/end our day, or to do something good for ourselves. If you aren’t actively using a machine, weight, or the space you are occupying, share. You’ll burn a lot more calories actually doing something – and your fellow gym-goers will be able to do what they came to do, too.
  • Watch your volume. This usually applies to the heavy-lifting, cut-up tank top wearing type, but it could be anyone. I still have nightmares thinking about a little old lady who worked out in my college gym (she sounded like she enjoyed working out just a little too much…) Please don’t yell. Please don’t curse. Please don’t drop your 100 lb. dumbbells. The people around you will appreciate it. And please, please, please … LEAVE THE CELL PHONE AT HOME.
  • Clean your machines! My gym has sanitizer and paper towels all over the place, and for the most part, people are really good about them. Gyms can be a hotbed for germs. You don’t want to pick up what someone else left behind, do you? They don’t want your germs, either. This especially applies if you sweat all over something (thank goodness for towel service!) – trust me, I have enough of my own sweat, I don’t need yours, too.
  • Nobody should smell you coming – be it good or bad. Perfume has a place. It is not in the gym. Many people – myself included – are sensitive, and maybe even allergic, to strong scents (it only takes a few minutes for me to develop a migraine). And please, invest in a good deodorant/anti-perspirant. You may be working hard, but everyone around you doesn’t want to smell just how hard (deodorant is not expensive!)
  • Be polite! I’m as guilty as the next person of zoning out, and I’ve been almost run down a time or two. But a simple “excuse me” or “sorry” does go a long way. You wouldn’t bump into someone at work and say nothing, would you? Same rules apply.

So, there they are. Nothing too crazy, just common sense and courtesy. Here’s to a happy, healthy, and polite workout!