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Loud catchy music, bare skin and rising temperatures combined with the smell of sweat, clothes lying about, strangers talking to you, selfies all over the place and communal showers, We are not talking about the end of a festival. We are talking about the special atmosphere in a gym. So your weight training or fitness sessions remain a moment of relaxation, here is a reminder of how to behave.
First Rule: You are There to Sweat - But Not Anywhere You Like
Obviously, when you go to the gym, you want to work hard and be physically active. The benefits of this are well known, as are the consequences: sweating - more pleasant for you than for the people around you. So, to make sure you don't leave a sweaty trail, wipe the benches, equipment and mats after you use them. Out of courtesy, a nice smelling environment also requires you to wear clean clothes: wearing the same sports gear for several sessions may leave you smelling bad. It is not just in your head.
Second Rule: Get Bigger Without Taking up Space
Sharing machines and weight or fitness equipment requires a minimum amount of courtesy. It is a bit like when you go camping - it is best not to be bossy or bother others.
For example, you shouldn't stay on the bench or machine while resting between sets. This is a good time to alternate with the person wanting to perform the same exercise. Similarly, if you notice a queue for a machine, it may be better to choose another one than add to the list of people waiting their turn.
As for weights, of course, performing your set just next to the rack will save you time going back and forth with the weights. Unfortunately, it is also likely to annoy other people wanting to pick up and put down their weights. Think of it like placing your tent in the walkway.
Third Rule: The Gym is Your Second Home, Not Your Real Home
If sport time is a special time for you, the gym can become like your second home. This is fine as long as you remember that you are sharing it! As for all communal environments, a few good habits in managing space and personal belongings can simplify things for everyone. For example, do not leave your belongings on the benches or machines you are not using, put the weights back on the rack or remove the disks from the bars after your sets. This will avoid making extra work for the next person and ensure everyone stays in a good mood. In short: tidy up after yourself, like you would in a house-share.
Fourth Rule: Give it Your All, Well Almost
True, you often go to the gym to work out. However, when we refer to giving it your all, we are talking about the intensity of your session, not the noises you make. A good way to do an intense, effective session is to remain focused! Because what works for you also works for others, it is polite not to bombard other users with your song choices or holler with every warm-up exercise. Talking of focus, isn't it annoying when a stranger comes to talk to you during your favourite song at a gig or interrupts a moment of suspense when you are watching sport in a public place? In a gym, the same goes: of course it is an opportunity to speak to people who have something in common with you - sport. However, you might be annoying people during their moments of relaxation or exercise. The smoothie bar is probably better than the weight benches to start a conversation.
Fifth Rule: Relax and Chill Out, Without Annoying Others
The gym is obviously a place where you want to feel nice and relaxed. However, it is not a holiday club so adopt different behaviour so you don't annoy others in the gym.
Which different behaviour? Arrive on time for classes, spend more time lifting iron than your telephone when on the machines, and avoid taking breaks in the middle of exercise areas or posing in front of the mirrors (which should be used to help you check you are doing the exercises correctly).
The gym does have one thing in common with your favourite holiday destinations: try not to hog the showers and changing rooms!
So How is This Done?
Here is some advice so your gym can remain fun for all. If you want to vary your sports activities, we also have some advice to vary your workout sessions.
All these sound like too much work? Then just get yourself all the equipment you need and workout in your own space without worrying about any etiquettes.