What happened to Gym Etiquette?

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    Jul 11, 2007 2:08 PM GMT
    OK - so like most, I have to squeeze my workouts in when I can. I love my small, privately owned gym. The owner knows every member by their first name. He even "froze" both mine and my partner's accounts during the time my partner was recovering from open heart surgery. Something one of the corporate-conglomerate type gyms would not even think of doing. This being said, today, after a year and a half I could not but notice how poor the etiquette at my gym has become; or perhaps it has always been this way but no one had brought it to my attention and it just took me this long to notice.

    I had to modify my workout time due to some appointments and meetings being scheduled at the time slot I have set aside for my daily workout. My day was already off kilter because of this, but I adapt well. I get to the gym shortly after 9 believing all of the soccer mom's to be gone and the lunch crowd far from being anywhere near ready (btw- I am part of the lunch crowd - I get there right before 11 normally to beat the nooners). I get in, do about a 15 minute warm up walk on the treadmill before heading into the free weight room. From this point on is where things get dicey. As I enter, there is a medium sized crowd off in the far corner which wasn't where I was originally heading so dodged that one. I then turn toward my original destination which is a short row of free standing benches, all of which were being occupied by ONE person. Said person was wearing a headset, which typically says I don't want to engage in conversation, but because he clearly was taking up more than his alotted space, I approached him and simply asked if I could use one of the benches. He didn't respond. I thought to myself "Perhaps he didn't hear me ", so I asked him again. He sat there not acknowledging me, sort of bouncing to the music I could hear eminating out of his head set. I thought, " OK, I can skip the muscle group I was going to do today and move on to something else "...trouble is, the next in my circuit would require me having to dislodge the large herd of co-eds talking in the far corner...still persistent, I look to see what is available. This is when it became clear how disorderly the gym truly was/is... weights all over the place. You couldn't tell if someone was on a device or machine since most of the dumb bells were sitting on the floor-- several benches or devices had weights on them, but I could not see passed the people standing there talking to determine whether or not they were free. This was when I decided to leave. Since my schedule is somewhat flexible I decided to wait until AFTER the lunch hour but before my appointment to squeeze this in...I will be talking to the owner about this when I return this afternoon.

    All this being said...what happened to gym etiquette? I have copied some applicable information from an article by Steve Richer who is the Lifestyle Correspondent for AskMen.com - he hits all of the big ones so I thought, why reinvent the wheel?

    Additionally, what happened to common sense? Do people actually just go to the gym to sit around and talk? Go to a cafe if you want to talk and get the heck out of the gym.

    How to Master Gym Etiquette
    Steve Richer

    You've been going to the gym for years; you definitely know what you're doing when it comes to techniques and routine. However, there's much more to a gym subscription than paying your dues and showing up every week. What about gym etiquette? Are you familiar with it? Examine the following tips and see how you rate.

    handling equipment

    The main reason we go to the gym is to use the sophisticated gear. While exercises can be performed at home, it's often easier to rely on machines that were specifically designed for the sole purpose of making us look better. Are you using all the equipment adequately?

    Return the weights
    Whenever you use dumbbells or plates, be considerate enough to put them back where they belong when you're done. The other gym members are here to train, not to participate in a scavenger hunt.

    Don't hog machines
    A gym being a community of sorts, sharing is mandatory. Do your sets the way you have them planned, training efficiently. Rest, repeat, and move on. Should you be doing supersets, notify the others and let them use the machine while you're busy elsewhere.

    Wipe the machines
    Can you imagine walking to a machine and finding it covered with the previous guy's sweat? You want to avoid being that guy. If you happen to drip all over a piece of equipment, wipe it down using the disinfectant provided by the gym. Also, use a towel to separate yourself from the machine while you make use of it.

    Limit yourself
    Working out the cardiovascular system, people are expected to spend 20 to 30 minutes on a machine. Try not exceeding that time limit and let other users benefit from the equipment. If no one is waiting for your spot, feel free to keep going. Whenever applicable, put your name on a reservation lis
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    Jul 11, 2007 2:14 PM GMT

    Don't drop the weights
    While a gym is not a church, do try to respect the peace and quiet of your fellow members. Don't drop weights from a high elevation for no reason. You certainly don't want the elderly gentlemen on the treadmill to slip and fall because he thinks Armageddon is here.

    Oh, behave in the gym!

    Proper Behavior
    Once you know how to handle the equipment, you need to hone your social skills. There are things you must and must not do to be regarded as a member the others won't try to dodge.

    Don't pressure users
    One thing you don't want to do is constantly ask people if they've finished using a machine when they're obviously still exercising on it. Wait for them to stop before asking. Don't tap your foot impatiently while waiting either.

    Spot those who need it
    You may be deemed annoying if you start going around asking everyone if they need a spot, monopolizing their time. If you see someone who is in dire need of a spot, risking injury without one, only then should you offer your services.

    Furthermore, when you do spot someone, make sure you're not the one doing all the lifting and that you can handle the weight. The latter is especially important since, if you're not strong enough, your spot will be useless and dangerous for the weightlifter.

    Don't offer your advice to others
    You might have a Ph.D. in physical training from Harvard with specialized experience with the national Olympic team, but no one cares. The advice you give should be limited to when you notice someone who's going to hurt himself.

    Keep in mind that you may not be the most knowledgeable person in the room. If you feel compelled to critique someone's training method, do so in a constructive manner, being polite and acknowledging what they're doing right first.

    Talk sparingly
    A gym isn't a social club; you're not there to shoot the breeze with its members. Conversations should be kept brief and limited to resting periods in between sets. These short discussions must be held out of the way so people can train without interruption. In addition, don't initiate conversations with people wearing headphones; they obviously don't feel chatty. Finally, while you're taking a break, don't sit on a machine -- others may want to use it.

    Don't hit on every babe
    It's true that a gym is one of the best pick up spots, but that doesn't give you a hunting license. Don't go around asking every woman out. They became members to get fit, not to be hit on by every dude in the room.

    In the same vein, try to avoid staring at those beautiful women in skimpy clothing. They know they're hot and they don't need your ogling them to figure it out. If one of them happens to catch you staring, smiling, look away, and move on.

    Try to smell your best, and don't bring your phone everywhere you go

    common courtesy

    When you have the essentials down pat, you need to exercise the universal civility you would apply in any other situation.

    No cell phones
    As with all public places, unless you're waiting for an important call, it's recommended that you turn off your mobile phone at the gym. As well, bringing your phone into the locker room and using it will make other guys feel uncomfortable; especially considering the latest models have integrated cameras and, well, nobody wants their butt being the main attraction on a sketchy website.

    Pick up after yourself
    Leave your training space as clean as the way you found it. Don't leave any food wrappers, water bottles, towels, or any other items behind. Keep your locker clean, orderly, and don't leave anything lying around for the next guy. Your membership fee is for use of the apparatus; it's not a maid service.

    Dress appropriately
    Don't wear torn clothing, but don't wear a tuxedo either. Go for a T-shirt instead of a tank top as to circumvent sweat overtly running onto the machine. Stay away from jeans; shorts or track pants are a much better choice.

    Don't grunt loudly
    Unless you have tiger genes, try to minimize your yelling while exercising. Of course, it's natural to emit little noises when doing strenuous lifts, but remember that the others around you are concentrating on their own work out and don't need to hear "the loud guy" screaming for attention.

    Smell good
    Exercising makes you sweat and perspiration causes body odor. Can you see in your mind's eye how badly it would stink if no one at the gym did something about it? Arm yourself with an effective deodorant and use it adequately. However, don't douse yourself with cologne; overcompensation can be just as unpleasant for fellow members.

    Be considerate of the water fountain
    A water fountain's purpose is to drink, not spit or throw away your gum. Moreover, if there's a huge lineup at the water fountain, don't be disrespectful of others by filling your huge water bottle.

    No foul language
    As with any other social venue, be respectful of your surroundings and of the fac
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    Jul 11, 2007 2:15 PM GMT
    derned Character limits anyway!

    No foul language
    As with any other social venue, be respectful of your surroundings and of the fact that people of all ages might be present on the premises. Don't use foul language or insult people who are less proficient in their training.

    Don't walk in front of mirrors
    Well, you can walk in front of mirrors as long as you don't pass in front of someone who is using it to get their stance right. By the same token, if you're looking at yourself in a mirror from across the room, don't get mad if someone passes in front of you. If you must use a mirror, it's better to stand close to it so that your actions are unambiguous to the rest of the crowd.

    work out, muscle man!

    When you get right down to it, a gym is a microcosm of society, a small community of like-minded individuals. Mastering proper gym etiquette can be quite helpful in your relationship with others. Once everybody knows the rules, it's much more fun to work out, as there's no reason to be uncomfortable.
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    Jul 11, 2007 2:25 PM GMT
    I'd take it to the management. You're not the only one at your gym to have experienced it and been disappointed by it. The management doesn't want to lose clients, but, they will if the crap persists unchecked.
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    Jul 11, 2007 2:36 PM GMT
    Hi Todd

    I think that the gym, like society, is becoming less polite. I think it's up to those who were brought up with some manners and appreciation for those around us, to show by example and not let ill manners get to us.

    In this case I think you have discovered a common issue with gym going generally. That if you go at another time than your usual routine, you find things slightly different, busier, perhaps. I know if I go mid afternoon, then I am going to meet lots of young guys with attitude (college guys with lots of time to idle around), whereas my usual morning workout is pre-work older guys in a hurry, but polite.

    I agree with McGay, complain about particularly bad behaviour to the management. But don't let your standards drop just because it seems others have no manners.


  • CincyBOJ

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    Jul 11, 2007 3:18 PM GMT
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    Jul 11, 2007 3:19 PM GMT
    I agree with you totally ptptodd, when it comes to the gym people are just downright rude. I'd thought maybe, just maybe, the offending parties were acting out of ignorance, but after watching them being asked time and time again to pick up their weights most of them STILL refuse to do it without management 'encouragement', I've concluded that the majority of gym-goes are just jackasses!
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    Jul 11, 2007 3:33 PM GMT
    rtptodd has a great point. I brought this up a few months ago and to be honest talking to the owner is a good idea, but if you are the only saying anything, he may not do much. Major gyms if you complain to coorporate they do stuff, or if you point things out to the manager and send a letter, they may do something. Your best choice is to find a time where the gym works for you and stick to it.
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    Jul 11, 2007 4:55 PM GMT
    Thanks gentlemen for your thoughts. I am glad to know that I am not alone in this experience. I did have a discussion with the owner as the folks holding court tying up space were two of his personal trainers hangin' out with a guy who just got back from Iraq.

    The owner thanked me for my input and said "he would take care of it."

    Thanks again -
    See you around,
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    Jul 12, 2007 3:28 AM GMT
    I think more folks need to read what you wrote.

    I concur with most of what you wrote. However, if one is uptight about sweat, germs, etc., he doesn't belong at a gym. It's a cesspool of human stuff. That's just the nature of the place. I wear tight tank tops, and love the mind body connection that I get. It's silly to wear clothes that don't allow you to concentrate on your goals. I got it to flaunt, love the connection I make in my mind when lifting.

    All the aforementioned being said, I am appalled that folks can't put their weights back on the rack, in the right place. Sometimes, I find stuff all over the place. Where I workout, even the trainers that work there break every rule around. It's pretty pathetic about folks who leave 8 plates on each side of the leg press, too.

    It's gotten worse, and especially in The South. Folks in The South, are, by far and above, the worst of the worst for weight room etiquette.

    I have people stand in front of me. I have people say shit like "I only have four more sets" and so on.

    I always blow folks away. I walk around them to avoid getting in their view. I'm meticulous in how I pick weights up, and...if someone asks...I say "I don't don't require exclusive use of the apparatus", which blows them away.

    The best leadership, of course, is by example. That's how I try to do it.
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    Jul 12, 2007 4:03 AM GMT
    At my gym, lots of guys throw weight around, do all this grunting, and of course leave the weights wherever they please. They also have the terrible tendency to do a set, rest for 10 min, then half do another, etc. Of course, I prefer not to kill anyone and try to workout during times when the dummies aren't there, which helps. (And why is it it's always the ones making the most noise and shit that have the WORST bodies? A little less grunting, a little more ab work I think! LOL!)

    I'd agree with the above poster: manners in general getting less and less proper and more lax. Decorum and conversation are dying artforms and I'd be surprised if American children can compose a 1,000 word essay which is clear, eloquent, and structurally sound.
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    Jul 12, 2007 3:06 PM GMT
    I have a complaint about my gym. In this case, it's the management.

    My biggest complaint is that they have no bicycle racks. How absurd is it for people to drive to the gym on a beautiul summer day, and then ride a stationary bike. Recently, I rode my bike, and asked the guy at the desk if it was OK to lock it inside in an out of the way place next to a rail where I could lock it (it's a huge gym, I would not be able to see it). He said OK, but then about 30 minutes into the workout they paged me over the PA and told me I had to move it. I was embarassed,because they made it look like I was doing something wrong in front of a lot of people, and also mad because I had to stop my workout.

    These same gym workers don't seem to be able to empty the trash or pick up weights that people leave out (I never leave them out). A lot of times there will be three working, but the place will be a mess.

    Another complaint I have is that they pick the music. A lot of times, they pick rap music with platant profanity in it, and other inappropriate content. This gym haskids i a nursery, and little old ladies on treadmills, and they are playing music that's obscene. I complain, but they won't do anythign about it.

    The only reason I go there is that it's the only full gym open 24 hours (my old one closed at 8, which didn't work for me).

    So here's a list of etiquette for gym owners-- please add your own.

    1. Provide adequate parking, including bike racks

    2. Keep the gym clean

    3. Play a variety of music, and avoid anything blatantly offensive

    4. If patrons leave out weights, return them so that other patrons can find them

    5. Provide a lobby or other area for cell phone and other conversations, and discourage patrons from talking on the phone or mingling while on equipment
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    Jul 12, 2007 3:30 PM GMT
    This is one of the reasons I use the base on gym. Military Gyms have NO problem banning customers from the gym, since they dont have to worry about revenue. The gym is spotless, every singel dumbbell is racked in its appropriately marked location, and everything is wiped clean.
    I've rarely encountered bench hogs in a military gym. There are those who socialize way too much, but usually will move out of the way if you ask.
    The local gym, sponsored by the hotel I'm staying at, is dank, dark, plays bad music, and only hires teenage desk girls for thier looks who dont do a damn thing. They aren't even polite when you come and go. You can never find dumbells, there is no order, and the steam room reaks of mildew.
    Todd, the only advice I have for you, is to stand up to the rudeness. The guy hogging the benches? I would have stood nose to nose with him until he acknowledged me. It seems as if he is suffering from the false since of entitlement affecting much of the country these days.
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    Jul 12, 2007 6:34 PM GMT
    No bike racks at a gym? Insanity. Almost as insane as our old bike store NOT HAVING BIKE RACKS EITHER!!!
    I am starting up at a new gym and everything seems good-to-go. Gym smells strongly of cleaners, equipment is spotless, mats are fresh-looking, and the lockerroom is well-lit and maintained. Little bimbos at the front desk and two who don't look up from texting whoever, but in all a good experience (so far)
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    Jul 13, 2007 2:31 AM GMT
    Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
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    Apr 09, 2013 2:20 AM GMT
    I don't know how I feel about "gym etiquette"

    I mean, the basic stuff, like don't leave weights all over the place, etc.

    But there is a certain hierarchy in a gym that "gym etiquette" kind of tramples on. For example, this awful idea of being "impatient" when waiting for equipment.

    If I'm squatting, and someone can squat substantially more than me, I get the fuck out of the way. And when I'm trying do rack pulls and some scrawny douche is doing 95-pound pussy rows, or 135-pound 1/16 squats (especially when he's acting like such bad-ass) yeah, I'm gonna pressure him.

    Also, this planet fitness b.s. about grunting--who cares?! When someone is busting there asses lifting, pressing, squatting, pulling, etc. heavy ass weight, it hurts. It's hard. They're going to grunt, even yell. I don't do the bombastic pea-cocking yells but it's more because I'm a bit introverted. I actually bite my tongue, and I usually grunt, involuntarily.

    The only thing that really bothers me, but this is more because I'm a neurotic anal nutcase, is when they don't put the weight plates on the right shelves on the tree rack. Ugh, if anything besides training to near-failure turns me red-faced and brings out the veins, it's that.

    Also, when people let the bar slam to the ground when they're deadlifting. If there's less that 405 pounds on the bar, bring it down slowly you weak-as-kitten wannabe hard-asses.

    Jumbled, discombobulated rant over.
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    Apr 09, 2013 2:31 AM GMT
    After 39 years of lifting and dealing with rude, clueless, ignorant, stupid, did I say rude?, fucks, I could write a book on this.

    That's how I really feel.
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    Apr 15, 2013 3:02 AM GMT
    manners. say EXCUSE ME if you need someone to move out your way. that's my issue. some folks don't know how to say excuse me and think because they're gym guy or have a large frame, that people are supposed to move out their way. fuck them.