The gym’s a unique place, with its own rules, guidelines, and etiquette. The last thing you want is to be that guy or gal who gets it completely wrong, annoys a bunch of people, and ends up looking like a complete idiot. Here are 8 simple tips to avoid workout fallout and make sure you’re getting along with everyone in the gym.
1. Don’t be a d!ck
It might sound obvious but believe me, so many people get this wrong. Don’t go into the gym thinking you own the place, don’t look down on or condescend to any other members, and absolutely don’t go into the gym looking to score a date! None of that is cool, none of that is OK, and, take it from someone who’s worked in a gym for years, you just end up looking ridiculous.
2. Leave your ego at the door
Linked to point number one, if you want to settle into a new gym and get along with everyone, don’t come in feeling like you need to prove yourself. This is something I see over and over again with new members; they feel like they need to prove themselves and end up doing weird, crazy, and even dangerous feats of “strength” in order to do so. Trust me, you’re not impressing anyone. Keep it chill, train within your limits, and improve over time. That’s how you earn respect in the gym.
3. Put your weights away
Unless you want to be hated by every single member of staff, take the time to put your weights away after you’ve finished using them. Acting like a spoilt little child who won’t tidy up after themselves is a guaranteed way to make enemies in the gym. I’ve seen full-blown arguments kick off – heck, sometimes I’ve started full-blown arguments! – because of this. If you want to avoid workout fallout, this should be one of your golden rules.
4. Wipe it down
I don’t know about you, but when I go to the gym I tend to sweat. (In fact, I challenge you to do a brutally heavy 10-rep max set of squats and stay dry!) But whenever I leave a piece of equipment, I wipe it down with one of the cloths provided by the gym. I do this because it’s a common courtesy to the other people using the gym; no one, and I mean no one, wants to sit down on a machine you’ve just been using which is covered in your sweat. Be tidy, be nice, and be respectful of other people.
5. Personal hygiene (look after it!)
It sucks that I have to even mention this, but it happens a lot more often than you think … Don’t turn up to a public gym smelling terrible! This means:
Don’t re-use gym clothes without washing them.
Don’t work on a farm all day, then come straight to the gym without showering.
Don’t wear the same set of gym clothes all year – buy new stuff.
Just as a heads up, those are all real-life examples that I have personally seen. It’s gross, and as a member of a gym it’s really hard to concentrate on your workout when someone next to you smells like the mutant offspring of cow manure and gone-off milk.
If you want to make friends, or at least avoid making enemies, then shower regularly, buy new gym clothes a few times each year, and always wear a fresh set to the gym.
6. Don’t be greedy
In every gym in the country there’s always at least one guy or girl who has decided to do “circuit training” by using 4 or 5 different pieces of equipment at the same time. Not cool. Don’t single-handedly use multiple pieces of equipment; it’s selfish as well as super-annoying to other members of the gym.
If you want to perform circuits or some kind of conditioning work, that’s great; just use equipment that’s readily available and which won’t have an impact on anyone else’s workout.
For example, use a medicine ball, kettlebell, and dumbbell. Most gyms are literally full of these things, so you taking one or two won’t be an issue.
7. Learn to share
Gyms get busy. If you train between 5 and 7 p.m., gyms get very busy. Sometimes this means that you’ll have to share a piece of equipment with another member. This is often referred to as “working in.”
So if you’re in the middle of a bench press session and someone asks if they can “work in,” they’re asking if they can use the same piece of equipment while you rest. This is perfectly acceptable gym behavior, and unless you’re planning on violating rule 1 of this list, you should agree.
Don’t get me wrong, if someone asks to work in and then proceeds to take over the equipment, change the exercise, or make things really difficult, then you’re completely OK to ask them to leave (because they’ve violated rule 1 of this list).
Generally, though, if you want to avoid gym fallout during busy time periods, you need to be prepared to share popular pieces of equipment.
* Pro tip: Never train your chest or triceps on a Monday!
8. Don’t be weird at conversation
My last tip is pretty simple, but so many people seem to get it wrong. All you need to remember is that people in the gym are just like people you meet anywhere else. Some people might want to chat more, others might want to chat a little less. Use your common sense to tell the difference.
If someone has their headphones in and is getting psyched up for a heavy deadlift, there’s a pretty strong chance that they don’t want to have a conversation right now.
On the other hand, if someone is resting between sets and asks you how your training is going, then there’s a good chance they’ll be happy to chat.
Use your head and communicate like a normal human being. Talk to those that are interested; leave the people alone who aren’t interested. Simple.
Fallout-free fitness guarantee
There you go – my 8 simple tips for avoiding fitness fallout and not looking like a gym idiot. You’ll notice that pretty much all of these tips are either common sense or common courtesy – crazy, right? There’s no secret handshakes or codes; just treat people as you would like to be treated, and treat the gym like you would want people to treat your own home.
Now go get training!