Don’t Sweat It: Ten Tips for Proper Gym Etiquette

Respect Your Gym and Have a Great Workout

My recent post about single mingling in the gym caused a bit of a stir as men and women weighed in on the best way to approach someone at the health club who you'd like to ask out.  I thought I'd expand upon gym etiquette in general with some do's and don'ts. 1.  If you sweat on the equipment, clean it up. You're supposed to sweat at a health club, and actually if you don't, you're probably wasting your time and money.  But it's not okay to leave a big sweaty butt print on a bench for the next person to lie in.  Ick. 2.  Clean with an anti-bacterial wipe, not just a towel. If you're sweaty then your towel is sweaty, too, and you're just wiping your sweat around when you mop up your puddles.  Most gyms nowadays have wipes readily available at stations and you can use one on a couple of pieces of machinery before you need a new one.  Primarily these wipes contain rubbing alcohol which kills just about everything. 3.  Be on time for group exercise class.  Being late once in a while is okay, but trust me, if you're habitually tardy, the instructor knows it and wishes you would either be on time or not be there at all.  Warmups are an important part of group exercises classes; they help prepare your body for the ensuing workout, keeping injuries to a minimum, and also give you some time to learn simpler moves before the instructor shifts to complicated choreography.   You'll get so much more out of these classes if you're on time. 5.  Work in on your sets. If you're at a weight machine and someone wants to work in with you, it's proper etiquette to alternate turns.  Extra props if you set the machine to their weight level when you switch off.  This actually works perfectly as you get the right amount of rest tim before you do your next set. 6.  No cell phones on the gym floor. Ever. You know you're being annoying by taking calls. You also can't possibly be getting a good workout in if you're able to talk calmly enough to carry on a conversation.  Besides that, most cell phones have cameras these days and there have been surreptitious photos taken of people in not-so-great positions and then posted online.  My health club has a no cell phone policy as much for the second reason as the first.  Keep 'em in your locker. 7.  Keep chit chat to a minimum.  I used to work out at a women's only health club and I finally left because of all the side conversations going on.  I'd be minding my own business on the elliptical and two gals would climb on next to me and start talking about their philandering husbands and recalcitrant children.  I didn't want to know and I couldn't escape it.  You talk louder in a gym than you realize, and I could frequently hear these conversations over the music on my iPod.  Keep this in mind the next time you're discussing the intimate details of your last doctor's appointment in the stretching area. 8.  Respect the staff. Trust me, those of us in the fitness industry don't make a ton of money. We are not driving BMWs and jetting off to Paris.  We work hard and we work weird hours so we can assist you as you get healthy.  A little kindness goes a long way; if a client gives me a hug on the way out the door and says great workout, I'm on cloud 9 the rest of the day. 9. Put it back from where you got it. Don't leave free weights on the floor, or toss your exercise mat in the corner where it doesn't belong.  Put it back where you got it so the next person doesn't have to do your dirty work for you. 10.  Don't talk like a trainer unless you are a trainer. Sure, there are some clubs out there with poorly trained staff, but if you work out at a health club that respects the fitness industry and hires high-quality trainers, don't tell them how to do a bicep curl.  We'll politely smile, hold our tongue, and shake our heads after you walk away.  Yes, we get it all the time.  We have hundreds of hours of training if not master's degrees in our fields.  Just because we wear sweats to work doesn't mean we don't know what we're doing. If you have any other tips, please add them below.  Would love to hear your thoughts. Lisa

About Lisa Johnson

Lisa Johnson here. I've been a personal trainer since 1997, a Pilates instructor since 1998 and the owner of Modern Pilates since 1999. I'm hoping to give you some good ideas to get or stay in shape with a healthy dose of humor and reality. Thanks for joining me.

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2 Responses to Don’t Sweat It: Ten Tips for Proper Gym Etiquette

  1. forex robot April 10, 2010 at 12:37 am #

    Terrific work! This is the type of information that should be shared around the web. Shame on the search engines for not positioning this post higher!

  2. Stop Sweating Problems May 28, 2010 at 12:21 pm #

    the first rule is so important, everybody should stick to it!

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