The gym can be a scary place, especially if you are new to fitness and unfamiliar with gym protocol. And while you may not feel completely comfortable, don't let intimidation stop you from reaching your goals. You just need a little gym etiquette training.
Just like any other community, the gym requires some special considerations. More often than not, general politeness works wonders, but if you'd like a more detailed approach, check out these 10 gym "don'ts."
1 / Don't Be A Chatty Cathy
Whether you're lifting with a buddy or just are in the gym on your own, it's tempting to use the gym as your social hour. Do not do this. If you're holding a dumbbell or barbell, lift it—don't just cradle it as you blab to your girlfriend about Timmy's school project. Other people want to use that equipment. This also goes for people who just sit on a bench or machine while they chat. There are a gazillion other places you can chat besides the pec deck. Do the work, or step away.
Even worse are the people who insist on talking in the middle of a difficult set. Hint: if the person you're talking to is breathing really hard, grunting, or is wearing an expression of pain mixed with mild panic, shut up. That person doesn't want to—and probably can't—talk to you. Sorry.
2 / Don't Smell
There's nothing worse than getting a deep breath of Acqua Di Gio when you're in the middle of a heavy squat. It means instant nausea, instant headache. I can't think of a reason why anyone would need to swim in cologne before he goes to the gym. The same can be said about ladies: Love Spell perfume does not mix well with sweat and effort.
On the other hand, excessive body odor is just as bad. Treadmilling next to a person who clearly had numerous tequila shots and cigarettes the night before is an awful experience.
3 / Don't Leave Your Weights
Bro, I'm totally impressed that you can bench 315 pounds. But when you're done, please don't leave the plates on the bar. By doing this, you're essentially telling everyone else at the gym that you're more important than they are. That's just plain rude.
4 / Don't Leave A Sweat Puddle
Sweat happens. You're in a gym, that's what you do. But not everyone else in the gym wants to lay or sit in your puddle. It's just not the right way to mark your territory. Blech!
5 / Don't Coach
If you see someone who is clearly lifting improperly, don't say anything. OK, I'll allow this: Unless that person is in a near-death position and you are the only one who can save them, don't say anything. It's not your place.
Furthermore, knowing what you're talking about and thinking you know what you're talking about are two different things. If you learned from watching a YouTube video about proper deadlifting technique, telling Hulkmaster Huge in the corner that his feet aren't spaced wide enough is a bad call.
6 / Don't Be Selfish
Say it with me friends, "sharing is caring." Gyms have limited equipment. You may need to let someone do their working sets during your rest periods. True, if you share the cable machine, you may not be able to time your circuit like a Swiss watch. But that's not something to worry about—your biceps aren't going to lose an inch if you have to wait an extra 30 seconds.
7 / Don't Be Oblivious
Gyms are full of other people. No matter how awesome Eminem sounds blasting in your Dre Beats, you can't pretend that you're the only person there. That means you should be cognizant of how much room you're taking up, whether you're standing directly in front of someone, and how much noise you're making.
8 / Don't Ogle
Man or woman, it's difficult not to be aware of the myriad attractive people you may find in the gym. However, staring creepily at the chick doing bent-over rows or the dude doing barbell hip thrusts is not cool. Mind your own business.
9 / Don't Misuse Equipment
If you don't know how something works, ask. If you aren't sure that a machine is working properly, ask. If you think something's wrong with your treadmill, ask.
It's also best if you use equipment as it's meant to be used. For instance, if you find yourself doing biceps curls in a squat rack, you'd better move. Someone might kill you.
10 / Don't Make Fun of Overweight People
If you make fun of people who are in the gym trying to be more healthy and fit, then you are an asshat.