I've been working in gyms and fitness centers for almost two decades and lifted in gyms for twice as long. I’ll say that these rules of gym etiquette aren’t just for newbies. If you have been going to a gym for a long time and find that you’ve done many of these things in the past (or you still do them) that’s okay! We all learn, and we get better. While you can’t make others change, you can change yourself. If you do, hopefully others will follow your example. So here are some items of what I consider proper gym etiquette.
2 - Re-rack someone else’s weights. It won’t kill you to pick up a small area you are in. Lead by example. If someone left your area unorganized then organize it when you are putting your weights up. It only makes sense. Who cares if you didn't make the mess? Be better than that. Most people who have a normally functioning brain will feel bad seeing you pick up after them and won’t make the same mistake again.
3 - Equipment use. Allow others to work-in when you are between sets on strength equipment. Offer other members work-in when you are on the equipment and if you are waiting for the equipment ask other members if you can work-in. Please refrain from reserving equipment with a towel or resting on equipment between sets. Please limit your use of cardio equipment to 30 minutes during peak times if other members are waiting.
4 - Give your equipment to people who need it more than you. If you are doing curls out of a squat rack for convenience there is nothing wrong with that. However, if someone is waiting to squat it is a deadly sin. Squat racks are for squatting. Equipment with two cable arms is for use of cable arms and not to hang a TRX, unless nobody else is at the gym. The same goes for deadlifting in front of a rack. You can deadlift anywhere. So you have to walk a few extra steps with weight. You are in a gym. Don’t be lazy. And don’t hold the same equipment for long time or different exercises unless there is another one available. Keep in mind the gym is not your own private gym.
5 - Cell phone use. This is one of the most common and annoying behavior in the gyms. Limit your cell phone use to music while working out. If you can’t resist and want to text, email, or make a phone call while you are resting between sets, then step aside from the equipment and allow others to use it while you rest and use your cell phone.
6 - Dropping weights. Maintain control of weights at all times and safely lower to resting position or storage racks. Please do not drop weights from overhead or let drop from waist level to the ground. Act like it’s your own equipment.
7 - Wipe down the benches and seats you use. Gyms are breeding ground for bacteria. Additionally no one wants to deal with your sweat grease.
8 - Don’t be an intimidating idiot. No one cares how big you are or how much weight you can lift. Everyone starts somewhere. Just because you have 15 years of experience under your belt you don’t have to make the 15 year old feel more stupid that he or she already does trying to work out for the first time. You aren’t in the gym to put on a show. You are there to workout. So is everyone else.
9 – Don’t train right in front of the weight rack. Normally the person lifting weights has the right-of-way. But when you choose to perform one-armed rows with one hand on the rack or you grab two dumbbells for biceps curls and step back only two inches, you prevent others from accessing the weights. Your best bet is to grab the weights you need and retreat to an area where you can exercise but not obstruct traffic. And remember to re-rack them when you’re finished with your set.
10 – Save the grunts and groans for home. Grunting or shouting as you lift weights doesn't just frustrate other exercisers around you; it leaves you looking like you want other people to notice you. And trust us, they will, but not in the way you want them to. If you find yourself making noises unintentionally, try pursing your lips as you lift and breathe properly exhaling as you raise the weight and inhaling as you lower it.
11 – Sharing your music with everyone. Music is essential for many gym-goers. Nothing gets the blood pumping like “Vulgar Display of Power” on max, and almost everyone you’ll see at the gym will have headphones in. But there are some people who prefer to use the speakers on their phone or like to sing along. Be aware of your music volume, and be sure to wear headphones. Don’t randomly break into song or start rapping, either. Keep your music to yourself.
12 – Water paper cup. And last but not least, specially tailored for the NOHO 14 gym users, before you leave the gym throw away your water cups.