An Introduction to Gym Etiquette
Many people are unfamiliar with gym etiquette and for this reason it’s an important topic to discuss. Being a gym rat, I’ve seen some things that would make the Pope use Jesus’ name in vain. Things that might make Ghandi go full Bob Knight and start hucking dumbbells at people. Below are some of the basic elements of gym etiquette that, just this morning, I witnessed get slaughtered mercilessly. The list will go on; these are just some examples to get the ball rolling.
1. BE RESPECTFUL OF EQUIPMENT OTHERS ARE USING
Have you ever experienced withdrawal symptoms at the gym? Found yourself in the fetal position or foaming at the mouth because you need to use the lat pull-down machine so damn badly, but somebody else is using it? I can offer one simple piece of advice: WAIT (and shut/wipe your mouth). Let’s assume the person using it appears to be a capable weekend warrior, having only been using it for a justified amount of time and taking reasonably short rest periods between sets. You, my friend, simply need to wait. Are you lost for what to do while waiting? Here’s an idea - go do something different instead! It’s called “anything else”. Plenty of other lat work can be done that doesn’t require sloth-trolling somebody’s workout with a ‘can I work in, bro?’ or ‘how many you got left?’ This makes our weekend warrior feel rushed, which may influence their workout in ways detrimental to their progress.
Even worse than the uncomfortable approach to find out how you can weasel your way into just a taste of a set is the unannounced ‘work-in’/equipment theft. As soon as our warrior gets up to stretch or grab water…there you are. Not only are you now using the machine they were still using, but you’ve entirely disassembled the lat pull-down machine and turned it into a petri dish of warm sweat and curb-stomped courtesy. Just remember – when in doubt, wait. Having said that, you may have a case to approach our weekend warrior if they turn out to be a babysitter. This leads us to our next Basic.
2. DON’T BE A BABYSITTER, YOU SQUIRRELY @*%&
We all know the guy who sits down on the bench in the one rack in the gym flailing his arms like Michael Phelps about to swallow another Olympic gold medal. This guy is getting ready to bench, and bench heavy. He got to the rack before you, but that’s fine. You’ll do something else while he benches. He reps out 135 for ten, feeling pretty good he immediately hops off the bench and tosses a 25 on each side. Now it’s 185 and this guy’s in business. His pace seems solid, he won’t be on this thing all day. But then he pulls out his phone and snaps a few selfies in the mirror. Who wouldn’t do that before benching 185? Or before any weight? Nice, Bro. Make sure you lift that shirt up nice and high. This guy is a case study on narcissism. He thumbs into his phone the new Instagram post caption: ‘New PR. Chest day #huge #muscles #giant #chest @kalimuscle.’ He’s gotta get the right filter on the picture. He needs that definition on his side-chest to pop. He needs to blot out that zit on his chin. Oh snap – you see his boy’s Facebook post? He’s gotta read this thing, react to it, like it, comment on it, re-post it.
This guy is babysitting. He’s one of the worst types of people in the gym; hogging an important piece of equipment as if he was getting paid $10.50/hr to make sure it’s fed and asleep by 9:30. Meanwhile, you’ve been employing Basic #1 ^(above if you missed it)^ waiting patiently for the piece of equipment to open up. You’re working hard doing your own thing, but you need that rack to get some squats in. An hour+ has gone by and our guy has 205 on the bar and a total of seven working reps completed, so you feel entitled to approach him (which you now are). He looks at you like you’ve assaulted the children he’s babysitting. ‘I’ve still got five sets left, Bro’ he snarls. This is when it’s good you don’t own a weapon. This man has been on this piece of equipment so long he’s got squatters’ rights. You’ve got limited options as far as how you handle it, so you call him a squirrely $&#* and let him know that if he wants to learn the very basics of gym etiquette, he should come here to this blog and read about himself.
3. JUST PUT IT BACK WHERE YOU GOT IT, HERO
Have you ever gone over to the dumbbell rack looking for a specific weight only to find it missing? Most of us have. The natural reaction is to look around and see where these treasures may have disappeared to, only to find them amongst six other pairs of dumbbells of varying weights in a pile on the floor. Perhaps a magical dumbbell-shitting giant had eaten your dumbbells and shat them on the floor into this pile. But, alas, you see our Hero standing nearby. He’s using a different pair of dumbbells for hammer curls (arm day, baby) in excess of the collection he’s begun. He no longer has use for the other dumbbells in the pile, but he hasn’t found the time to return them to where he found them as his heroics have taken precedence over etiquette.
You tell yourself, ‘Wow, that guy’s a squid’ and you move on. You come back to the dumbbell rack later, which is no longer half empty, and it is clear our Hero has returned the dumbbell pile back to the rack and/or employed the magical dumbbell giant to do so. So you look for the 25’s, but the 75’s are where the 25’s should be. So you look where the 75’s should be, and the 40’s are there. So you look where the 40’s should be. After minutes of wasted time and a couple of popped blood vessels, you find the weights you’re looking for. Mood ruined, workout delayed. True Heroics.
The worst part about these types of gym heroes is the message it sends to the other users of the gym. It’s Broken Windows Theory for getting huge. Nothing inspires not giving a shit about where you re-rack your dumbbells like looking at a dumbbell collage in complete disarray. So save your dumbbell rack and save us all some precious time (and blood vessels). This is your opportunity to strap on the cape and fake abs - be the Hero that you were always meant to be.