You know the feeling.
You walk into the gym, get through the warm-up, and start setting up your first set of three exercises. You start off great busting through set one, grab some water, and circle back to start set two.
Low and behold, your dumbbells are gone, someone is using your bench, and the mat you were using has someone else's body laying on it.
Someone needs to take Gym Etiquette 101...
Here are the 5 rules of basic gym etiquette:
1. Sharing is Caring
You don't own that piece of equipment. That's not your own personal squat rack. Sure, you deserve and are paying for access to it, but you have to learn to share. Communicate with your fellow gym goers, and just ask "hey, can I work in with you?" Most people will be perfectly good with it. Just make sure when you're done, you put it back to their setting; meaning their weight on the machine, their notch on the bench, etc.
If you're taking up 3 pieces of equipment during your circuit, you have to be ok with sharing with someone else. If you communicate and plan, it shouldn't put a damper on anything. If someone wants to share the equipment you're using for exercise "A" they should have plenty of time to use it while you're doing exercises "B" and "C."
Remember, you deserve to get access to the equipment, but don't hog it, and don't be selfish enough not to share with someone else.
2. Re-Rack Your Weights
A lot of the confusion of whether someone is still using something or not comes from weights being left on a bench, box, bar, or another piece of equipment. If you're done with a piece of equipment, put it back to its original place so it's ready for the next person. If you used weight plates, put them back on the storage rack. Remember the lesson your momma taught you when you were a kid: clean up after yourself.
3. Don't Stand In Front of High Traffic Areas:
One of the best moments is seeing someone grab a dumbbell off the dumbbell rack, and perform the exercise directly in front of the rack. Think about that for a moment. You now just blocked anyone from getting to the dumbbells. A better choice would have been to grab the dumbbell, walk back 3-5 feet to open space, and then perform the exercise. Think of your high traffic areas: the path in front of free weights, lanes of turf, in front of cable machines, directly next to a squat rack with moving barbells, etc.
When you're setting up an exercise that is not limited to a particular space (a cable exercise has to be done on a cable machine, a barbell squat has to be done at the squat rack vs. a push up could be done anywhere, a dumbbell shoulder press could be done anywhere, etc) try to pick a spot that is out of the way of high traffic transition areas, and not blocking people from getting to the equipment.
4. It's a Gym: There's Sweat, But Wipe it Up:
One of the best parts of your gym experience is going to lay down on a bench, and putting your back in a puddle of someone else's sweat, right? #bestdayever
Every gym should have a bottle of disinfectant and some wipes available, it doesn't take more than 30 seconds to grab it and take a quick wipe to the piece of equipment you just finished using. It fits nicely in the process, just before the step where you return the equipment to its proper spot.
5. We All Started Somewhere
Luckily here at Spurling, we are all one giant family, everyone knows each other, and we have a team of coaches helping everyone, not only on technique but reinforcing the aforementioned rules above. As much as I don't think we deal with the above as often as a commercial gym, I'm sure it still happens.
And that's ok.
We all started somewhere.
Can you think back to your first day at the gym? Maybe.
Don't get mad or frustrated at a new person for not knowing proper gym etiquette, and "messing with your routine." You were there once too.
Instead, go over and introduce yourself. Welcome them to the family, and fit in nicely some tips that will improve their experience, and everyone's around it.
Now, if it's that 40-year-old dude who leaves 500lbs on the bar, and he's been at the gym for 5 years, that's a reason for frustration.
I'll close with this. Fortunately, at Spurling, we have a very nonintimidating, welcoming atmosphere, with a team of coaches, and a family of clients, who all have each other's best interest in mind.
However, not every gym is like that. A gym is an intimidating place for most. It shouldn't be that way. It should be a positive place, a happy place. It should be a great experience, an hour where you change your life, meet new people, and let out some stress. If you help each other out, practice proper gym etiquette, maybe the newbie can have a more positive gym expereince, and maybe that could be the turning point in their life, where they stay longer and create life-long healthier habits, changing their life for the better.