A lot of people workout by going to gyms. A lot of these same people complain when things aren’t kept clean, put back where they belong, or any number of things. Let me tell you, puppies, that is on you! One of the main reasons things get out of order at gyms is because we don’t do so good with picking up after ourselves. We learn how to put things away, share, and clean up after ourselves in kindergarten... yet, as adults, we seem to find it hard to accomplish those skills. I want to take some time today to go over what I consider to be some great gym etiquettes you can put into play when you go to your gym.
1.) Put it back where it belongs.
A lot of people pick up equipment from one area of the gym and take it somewhere else to use it. This is fine and dandy as long as you put it back where it belongs. Pieces of equipment are arranged in a certain way to make things easy to find, but it’s hard to find that set of 15 lb. dumbbells if someone left them on the other end of the gym, or maybe put them back where the 50 lb. dumbbells belong. Likewise, if you move things around in a group exercise studio when classes aren’t occurring, please make sure to clean up after yourself so that classes can start on time and without obstacle courses put into place.
2.) Clean it off.
Most gyms have spray bottles and paper towels all around themselves for a reason... so that YOU, the member, can help keep things clean. Let’s face it, it’s impossible for the cleaning staff to clean off a piece of equipment every time it gets used. They’d have to hover over us like vultures as we do our workout. So it’s up to us to help keep things nice and germ free. When you finish using a piece of equipment (whether that be a cardio machine, a weight machine, a bench, a yoga mat or even dumbbells) take a moment to clean it off so that the next person doesn’t have to swim in your bodily juices and dead skin cells.
3.) Store it properly.
All too often I see people “put things away” without much care at all. It’s important that things go back where they belong, and in a good fashion. So, stack your fitness mats with care, don’t just flop them down any which way. Stack the steps neatly, and not too tall, so that someone doesn’t have a huge stack of them fall on top of them at any point. If you use a community yoga mat, roll it up good and tight (because if you roll it too loosely, or fold it, it’ll develop creases that will decrease the life of the mat). Same with yoga straps; no one likes to untangle big messes. If your gym has exercise bands, be sure to hang them back up with all bands of the same color and take out any knots that may have formed in them (similar for jump ropes).
4.) Inform the gym of broken equipment.
If you find something that is broken, torn, deflated, or missing pieces, be sure to take it to the front desk, management, or your instructor or trainer. It’s important for a gym to know if any equipment is broken and in need of replacement.
5.) Handle with care.
A lot of people think that when you lift weights it means that you should slam them onto the floor when done. This is bad for a number of reasons. One reason is obvious... it could break the equipment and/or damage the floor. The second reason is that you could really hurt yourself if you don’t practice setting weights down in a controlled and easy fashion. If a weight is so heavy that you need to drop it, maybe you shouldn’t be lifting that weight and/or you should seriously consider using a spotter (who knows what they are doing) to help you. This goes with group fitness equipment too... don’t just slam the benches and risers onto the floor, set them down gently.
6.) No sneakers on yoga mats.
A lot of people use yoga mats for exercise in sneakers, but yoga mats aren’t really made for sneaker work. If you have your own yoga mat and want to do that, then, by all means, have at it. If you are using a community yoga mat, however, use it for yoga and use bare feet. Using sneakers on it can seriously tear up the mat.
7.) Machines are not rest areas.
A lot of gyms are limited in how much equipment they are able to have. I understand that when lifting it’s important to take set breaks. If people are waiting to use the bench you are on, or the weight machine you are using, then do your exercise set, wipe down the machine, and let the other person use it while you are taking your set break. Another option would be to rotate muscle groups so that one muscle group gets a set break while the other muscle group gets worked.
8.) Lines for cardio equipment?
Some people may disagree with me here... but, I don’t think that time limits on cardio machines are necessary. If a gym has set them, however, please abide by them (because they usually exist due to not having enough equipment to go around). If there is no time limit set by the gym, however, as long as someone is getting their workout on, they should be allowed to finish. What I don’t understand is someone who will drive to the gym to stand there and wait to use a treadmill. Instead of twiddling your thumbs and tapping your foot, why not go do something that’ll burn more calories? If the machine you want is in use then try a different machine, or go to the group exercise class, or go run/walk outside. You don’t need to stand there and give the person using the machine the stink eye.
9.) What things aren’t as big of a deal as you may make them out to be?
Personally, I don’t really mind if people need to grunt when doing their workouts. Some people need to, some don’t. For a lot of people it’s not really like they are doing it on purpose. If you are annoyed by it, that’s on you. Being annoyed by something is a choice you make. You can just as easily choose to ignore it and not be annoyed by it.
The same goes for talking on cell phones. People chat next to each other when on treadmills or bikes, so if they want to chat on their phone what’s the difference? The one place where phones and chatting aren’t appropriate, however, is during a group exercise class... especially yoga! Or, my worst pet peeve is when I see a trainer chatting on the phone when they are supposed to be training someone... but that’s another blog... It’s also best not to chat when doing weights, as doing weights properly and safely requires full concentration (and if you want to talk in between sets, see #7).
I also don’t see what the big deal is if someone chooses the machine next to you when others are open. We are all adults here. We can deal with someone being on the treadmill next to us. If you don’t like it, then you move.
Lastly, if you are offended by the outfit someone is wearing (or lack of it) that’s also on you. People can wear whatever they deem as fitness worthy. If the gym isn’t kicking them out for inappropriate clothing, then it’s fine. If you are offended by it, that’s your choice. So, let that person get on with their bad self and you go get on with yours in whatever you are wearing.
You may agree or disagree with some or all of what I said above, but you must admit that if we started doing a better job of sharing, cleaning, and picking up after ourselves that gyms could be much more organized and pleasant for all attendees.
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