What is gym etiquette anyway?

My first experience at working out in a gym environment was at the University of Iowa Fieldhouse[wiki]. In the midst of my awakening of understanding how to correct long standing health problems, this was my first, real experience at working out for personal health versus my short stint in my high school football program. To be honest, I think I’ve workout harder for my personal health than I ever did in the days when it meant being competitive, but that could just be a difference of time and mentality.

Regardless, there is one thing that you’ll find at any workout facility, and that is etiquette.

This shouldn’t prevent you from going to a gym or workout facility, but there are just some things that I’ve noticed over the past few months that consistently confound me.

Not cleaning up after yourself. – This has many different variations, and I know I’m barking up a tall tree. However, it’s amazing that even the most civilized looking person, meaning the people that leave the gym wearing the utmost professional attire as they walk out the front door at 7AM, will leave weights where ever, not clean the cardio machine after drenching it in their own sweat, or not cleaning a bench or machine after they use it.

I know that I’m just as busy of a person in a chaotic world, but it’s not tough to take a moment and not leave a trail. The world will thank you for not spreading various microscopic things that can be spread by leaving your sweat behind. That’s what the paper towels and spray are for, especially in the heart of cold and flu seasons.

Ear piercing levels of listening to headphones, so loud that I can rock out to what your listening to in those ear buds jammed into your canals. – This is more of a PSA rather than an annoyance. Save your hearing. You can rebuild your body, but life only gives you one pair of ears. Take care of them.

Walking away from a machine or bench in the middle of your sets. – This is the most bizarre thing that I have yet to understand, and the way to deal with it is a delicate one. Here you walk up to, for example, the cable pull-down machine, and no one is around. In fact, there is no sign of someone using this contraption at all. Adjust the seat to your height, set your weight, and prepare to do your first set. Suddenly, someone walks up and says they were using it and have two more sets left.

You don’t have any idea where they went off to or where they just came from. They might have gone to the water fountain, ran to the washroom, or went over to converse with a friend across the way. Granted it’s nice to know because you haven’t given this other person a chance to clean up the machine, but it’s down right bothersome. It’s almost as if you have to keep tabs on the whole facility to know who is doing what, where, and when so you don’t run into this awkward situation. In the end, you want to be kind, let this person or persons do what they need to do, and then it’s your turn.

Still, I say don’t wander away. You snooze, you lose, and I’ve been on the crap end of the spectrum before as well. This is also why I carry a bottle of water with me to the gym. Makes it much more convenient to get a sip of water to quench the thirst without wandering away in the middle of a routine.

These are the main things that tend to get my mind reeling, and it’s probably the psychology student in me kicking in, dissecting the social aspects of this human interaction. If anything, perhaps other folks will think twice about these things as gym goers, and the real reason I even mention it here is overhearing other members mentioning these exact same things in conversation. As the song says, voices carry.


4 Replies to “What is gym etiquette anyway?”

  1. I workout at a campus gym frequented by Varsity athletes and fit students (most 17-21) who are there 6 or 7X a week. Many people including myself work on 2 pieces of equipment at the same time. It is better for your conditioning. For example, I may do a set bench press, and then I do a set of biceps and I alternate back and forth. Yes, I know I’m using 2 pieces of equipment, it is common at least in the gyms I’ve been to. As the 2 pieces of equipment are not always beside each other, there are times when I may not be visible. I have found people to be friendly and understanding and willing to work in with me if necessary or come back later.

    For myself, when I’m working out, I don’t like smelling someone that didn’t shower since the day before. I also don’t like when someone forgets to wipe down the cardio machine they were on or the piece of equipment they used.

    Basically as I go in the evening, I have limited time before the gym closes so I’m there to get in shape and move on, I’m not there to have tea.

  2. You’re right on the mark on what you’ve mentioned. One other thing that bothers me is people on the cardio machines over staying the 30 minutes maximum posted…and I’m waiting.

  3. @tyfn – Completely agreed on the smell factor. You need to wash your workout clothes on a regular basis. Nothing is worse than choking on the stank while you’re working out.

    @Kat – That’s certainly a pain when you are in a place that lacks the space for the number of members. For me, I always go in the morning time, so there isn’t too much of a wait. Otherwise, I alter my routine and try something else. It’s always good to switch things up and keep the body guessing.

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