Nearly two months into the new year, your local gym is likely still bustling with first-timers, new regulars, and gym veterans. Whether you’ve been a gym-goer for months or years, it’s important to keep up on expectations that affect everyone in the building: gym etiquette.
Starting with one of the most well-known rules in a gym: don’t slam your weights. There’s a difference between slamming weights and setting them down. It’s hard to be silent when setting down 300 pounds at the end of a deadlift, but most people can control setting down a set of 10 pound dumbbells. Part of using gym equipment is knowing how to control the weight throughout the entirety of the movement, and that goes for free weights and machines. Try your best to control the weight during the eccentric phase of the movement (typically, when the weight is being lowered) so that it doesn’t slam. Plus, this puts some extra work on your muscles!
Arguably a newer gym-norm in the past decade or two is don’t sit on your phone at a machine. Sometimes you need to rest between sets, but resting and scrolling on Facebook for 15 minutes are not the same. Other people might want to use the machine you’re on, so be mindful of that, especially during busy hours in the gym.
Another gym faux pas is when people forget to re-rack weights. This leaves the person who’s using the equipment next cleaning up before they can even start their workout. Remember that if you can put the weight on the machine, you can put it back! And speaking of putting weights back - make sure that you re-rack weights properly, as in, don’t put a 5-pound plate sandwiched between three 45-pound plates. Instead, make sure everything goes back in the correct place, even if you didn’t find it that way. It’ll be your “good deed” of the day!
And for our last gym-etiquette tip: only give advice when you’re asked. The exception to this rule is if you are a personal trainer/physical therapist and/or see someone doing something that could hurt themselves or others. Even corrections from a certified/licensed professional can be seen as unwelcome, so keep unsolicited advice to a minimum unless necessary. Many people can feel self-conscious in the gym, and going up to someone and commenting on their form or their workouts can exacerbate this concern. But that being said - don’t be afraid to ask for advice if you’re feeling unsure! You’ll likely be able to find someone that is more than willing to help.
Shannon McGoey, CPT is a trainer at Merritt Clubs Eldersburg