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What To Do: Gym Etiquette

Tips on not being the least popular person in your gym.

At first, I thought it was just a fluke. One day last week, my husband and I went to our apartment complex’s gym to work out and we saw a man without a shirt lifting weights. We kind of laughed about it later saying that maybe he was from a place that shirts aren’t necessarily required for everyday activities, like Hawaii or some other beach-surrounded location. But we went two days later and another guy was shirtless in jeans and flip flops.

Being a gym rat for almost 10 years, I know the proper etiquette. However, it seems not everyone does. So, here are a few suggested guidelines to use on your next visit.

                Jeans don’t equal a shirt. It’s hard to understand a person wearing jeans and no shirt in a gym. Perhaps they think that long pants cover enough, so a shirt isn’t really required. Um, no. Not only are jeans horrible workout attire because they are not made to breathe or allow a required range of movement, but they make the person wearing them look ignorant. A shirt is required not only to be decent, but they're also necessary for sanitary reasons.

                Speaking of sanitary…Always, always, always wipe off the machine you use if you sweat on it. Heck, always bring a small towel with you to wipe it off before and after getting on it. Sweat is a bodily fluid and it carries tons of smelly germs and possibly even staph infection. Someone’s careless workout could cause major damage to the unsuspecting person who uses the machine next. Being considerate of strangers in this way might not make you money, but it will make the world a much healthier place for all of us.

                Put things away. If you use dumbbells for an exercise, put them back on the rack when you’re done. If you don’t, you wind up looking like a lazy adult-kid who refuses to clean up your room when your wife-mom yells at you. Put things back where you got them from. This includes exercise balls, mats, dumbbells and even the weight pin in the machines. Basically, be an adult about what you use. Don't make me tell you twice.

Having the proper gym etiquette is so easy that it’s simply astounding when people forget to use some. A handful of things that take seconds to do can make workouts more enjoyable—and cleaner—for everyone. So unless you have your own gym at home, you probably should go ahead and put on that t-shirt. We can see your semi-washboard abs somewhere outside of the gym. Go ahead and post a picture on Facebook if you absolutely must show everyone your progress.

Brenda June 15, 2011 at 01:33 AM
Some people think their shape is something to show off. I guess if you work out and have it , show it off! HaHa! I never had it so I would never go with out clothes. It's not something we should do anyway! Have some respect for others. Wear all the cute and colored exercise clothes you can buy.
Nancy S June 15, 2011 at 02:38 AM
Thank you for writing this article Deena...I couldn't agree more! I joined my first gym almost 30 years ago, back when gym personnel/trainers were frequently out on the floor instructing members on proper form, how to use weight machines, and, of course, gym etiquette (you don't see that today). I'm amazed how many people don't bring a towel to the gym! This should be a requirement when you check in. What really irks me is when people sit and "rest" on the weight machines between their sets. I was trained to get up and let another waiting member "work in" with you, alternating sets. Or better yet, hop on another machine and work an opposing muscle group which still allows you to "rest" the muscles you just worked (circuit training). I blame the gym management for not hiring personnel to properly instruct the members.
Claire Bartlett June 15, 2011 at 12:12 PM
Don't forget about talking on your mobile phone and dropping the weight stacks! My husband had to tell a guy to get off his phone (he was yelling in our small club) and he got mad and left - LOL!
Deena C. Spell June 15, 2011 at 09:41 PM
Thank you! I have to admit, I have been pretty shocked at how little some people care for hygiene at the gym.
Deena C. Spell June 15, 2011 at 09:42 PM
Wow, you're right! Dropping weight stacks is a major pet peeve. That means they're not doing the right form, too!

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