Brett & Kate McKay | June 29, 2008
Last updated: November 1, 2018
Perhaps it is the rush of testosterone and the feeling of primal power that accompanies working out, but many men seem to check their manners at the door to the gym. But just because you’re getting in touch with your inner beast, doesn’t mean you should turn into an inconsiderate boob. Gyms should give new members a course on etiquette, but they don’t, leaving many men wholly ignorant of how to act civilly while pumping iron. Here are the rules of etiquette every man should know and keep. Feel free to tape them up in your gym’s locker room.
1. Rack your weights. Would you whip up a meal in the kitchen and then leave the dirty dishes for someone else to do? Well maybe you would, but then your roommates are currently plotting how to get you kicked out of the house. Show some respect to your fellow gym patrons and rack your weights. And rack them correctly. Nothing ticks me off more then when there’s a 25lb plate racked behind three 45lb plates. Take those few extra steps to put the same weights with the same weights.
2. Don’t hog the machines. Get in, get your work done, and leave. A gym is a community, so sharing is required. And no, you can’t stake claim to a machine by simply laying your towel on it. Not being a hog on a machine can get difficult when you’re doing super circuits. Before you move to the next machine, tell the person who’s using the machine after you that you’ll be coming back shortly to finish up your circuit.
3. Don’t do bicep curls in the power rack. The power rack is for individuals who are doing heavy squats and shoulder presses. It’s a safety rig that ensures they don’t kill or severely injure themselves while performing the lift. Bicep curls aren’t dangerous; thus, you don’t need to be in the power rack to perform them. Let people who really need to use the power rack use it. Take the bicep curls somewhere else.
4. Don’t hover. While hogging machines at the gym is a faux pas, what irks me more is when people start hovering over a machine that you’re in the middle of using. These hoverers passive-aggressively lurk by the machine to give you the silent signal that they want you to leave. If you want to use the machine, wait until the person has finished their set to approach them. Then politely ask if they’re done or if you can get a set in.
5. Wipe down the equipment. Few enjoy sitting in a pool of someone else’s sweat, much less a layer of it composed of an afternoon of inconsiderate gym goers. If you moisten a piece of equipment, wipe it down with your towel. If you are sweating profusely, use the disinfectant wipes that most gyms provide.
6. Don’t drop the weights (generally). When you’re finished cranking out a set of dumbbell presses, lay them down like a normal person. Don’t just drop them off your shoulders. First, it’s dangerous to do so. You don’t know if there are any feet or hands the weight can land on. Second, it’s bad for the weights and the floor. Finally, dropping weights creates a ruckus that can distract other gym patrons.
The only exception for weight dropping is if you’re doing Crossfit or Olympic style lifts in which dropping the weight is par for the course. If you’re going to perform lifts that require you to drop the barbell at the top of the lift, ask your gym management if that’s okay. And make sure no one is around when you drop the weight so you don’t send somebody to the hospital.
7. Curb the chitchat. It’s okay to exchange a few pleasantries and kudos with your fellow gym goers. But keep the chitchat short. Most people have a set window in which they need to complete their workout; blabbing to them for 10 minutes can rob them of their time, their focus, and the fitness they’re seeking.
8. Don’t treat the gym like a bar. Most women who are at the gym are there to get a job done. They’re sweaty and messy, not feeling their most attractive, and just want to be left alone to exercise. That doesn’t mean you can’t meet a lady friend at the gym, who you end up asking out. It just means that your primary focus at the gym shouldn’t be picking up chicks, and you should respect women’s space and time by adhering to the short chitchat rule above. Exchange some brief pleasantries; if she seems receptive, repeat these short exchanges several more times over a series of visits. If she still seems receptive, well, then ask her on a date. But if anywhere along the way she signals you to buzz off, go hit the squat rack to work out your frustration, and leave her alone.
9. Don’t give unsolicited advice. It’s great that you got your college degree in sports nutrition and exercise, or are simply an avid reader of bodybuilding magazines, but folks don’t necessarily want to hear your advice on how to get chiseled abs. Only if someone asks for some tips, or is in serious danger of hurting themselves, should you step in and share the encyclopedia of bro knowledge you’ve got stored in your cranium.
10. Don’t talk on your phone. Phones are great for listening to music at the gym. But that’s just about all they should be used for. Yakking away on your phone while you work out is highly obnoxious; even if the people close to you have headphones on, they can still hear you. Only talk on your phone in emergencies; text for everything else.
What rules of etiquette do you wish more people at your gym followed?
The Art of Manliness
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