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Manners, Mindfulness and Muscles
Gym Etiquette

(Article continued below.)

  • If you use it, put it back.
    It's not just rude to leave dumbbells lying around, it's potentially dangerous - someone could trip over them. It's also rude to leave a fully assembled barbell sitting around when you're done with it - no one knows for sure if you're finished or just taking a break, and someone eventually has to use their own time to remove your weights and put them back. Same with the leg press and Smith machine - it's especially frustrating for women to have to put away four 45-pound plates that some muscleman has left up. And when you do put the weights away, return them to their proper places - no 55-pound dumbbells on the 10-pound rack, please (or vice versa)! It's time consuming to have to hunt for the weight you need, instead of having it where it belongs.
  • Mop up your sweat.
    It's a gym and you're gonna sweat, so keep a towel nearby (either the gym's or bring your own). Don't gross out the next person who has to lie on the bench or use the cardio machine by leaving a puddle of your not-so-precious bodily fluids on or around it. And make sure your sweaty mitts haven't left the dumbbells slippery too.
  • Follow the time limits on the cardio equipment.
    Okay, if it's mid-morning and only three of the 10 treadmills are being used, you can go beyond the 20 or 30 minute limit if you like. But if it's the post-work rush hour and there's a full signup sheet to get on the treadmills or elliptical machines, don't keep going for 45 minutes. Most gyms have the time limits for these machines boldly displayed, so don't plead ignorance either. Nobody likes having to wait for the cardio machines, so be considerate - don't take up more time than you're supposed to.
  • Don't hog the weight machines, either.
    The more popular machines may have people waiting for them, so do your sets and get off of them. Don't take forever between sets, especially when you know someone is waiting (and even if the person hasn't said anything, you can usually tell - he or she is often hovering nearby and glancing your way every now and again). You'll get a better workout if you don't linger between sets anyhow. And if someone asks to alternate sets with you - let 'em. It's not gonna kill you. While they're using the machine you can stretch out the muscles you were using, or perhaps superset with another machine.
  • Give the other exercisers some space.
    If you're the one waiting to use a piece of equipment, don't breathe down the other person's neck. Especially if the other person weighs 250 pounds and has a bodyfat ratio of 4 percent. But even if it's a frail, 65-year-old lady, don't intimidate her by standing mere inches away as she uses one 5-pound plate to work her triceps. We know you're anxious to get on the machine and the person on the machine can most certainly feel your vibes. You don't have to be pushy and rude. Another place you need to give others space is when you're in an exercise class. Collisions with other dancers are no fun.
  • Don't disturb an exerciser in mid-set.
    You see a woman bench pressing and she has the exact body you wish you had. The time to ask her for some tips is not when she's got the barbell in mid-air. If you're weight training properly you know that concentrating on the move is the key. Someone who is serious about their workout will welcome interruptions about as much as a professional rose grower will appreciate aphids. You know what happens when an aphid tries to munch on a prize rose bush, right? It gets exterminated. So don't bug exercisers when they're busy.
  • Don't make loud, gross, disgusting noises.
    Okay, the type of people who read the articles on this site probably aren't the type to grunt loudly while hefting huge weights. But if one of you guys (and it's usually a guy) happens to be checking out this story - shut up already! The rest of us are really annoyed by you and you're disturbing our concentration. You're impressing absolutely no one.
  • Don't drop your weights on the floor.
    Place them down, don't let the barbell or dumbbells just go crashing to the floor. If you are using really heavy weights and working to failure you should have a spotter there instead of just dropping the weights. It's a safety precaution for both you and those working out around you.
  • Keep the bathrooms and showers clean.
    No gym, not even the most expensive, can afford to hire a pack of moms to follow each exerciser around their locker rooms. So clean up after yourself. There are few things more disgusting than finding some stranger's hair in the shower or discovering that every last bathroom stall is scrungy. If one of the sinks backs up or there's another problem, notify the management immediately. Don't leave the mess for someone else to report. Everyone is paying for the right to use the gym, and everyone is responsible for keeping it clean and safe. That includes you.

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