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So You’re Gonna Get Big, Huh? Gym Etiquette 101


It’s become very difficult to go about your day and remain ignorant of the increasing cultural pressure to get in shape. Virtually everyone is trying the new superfood, buying mass gaining supplements or starting a new workout trend that you absolutely have to try with them. This became readily apparent when walking through downtown Chicago, I came across a GMC with a security guard posted outside. Is it that serious? Well, evidentally it is when even Cheerios has a protein-injected version.

But hey, I’m all about folks trying to better themselves and their health by eating better, working out, whatever. So instead of fighting the power(lifting) or speaking against social pressure to get in the gym, I’m going to give in. But I’ll you some pointers on how to at least appear like you belong there and maybe teach some regulars a lesson in the process. Here’s some gym etiquette pointers for you to keep in mind after chugging down that pre-workout drink your gymrat friend just gave you.

1. Don’t Talk To Me, Bro!

It’s okay to greet someone in passing or have a (very) brief conversation in a low volume area but after you two pass a few exchanges, you need to cut that shit out. Don’t talk to people when they’re in the middle of rep, don’t strike up a political debate directly right in front of dumbbell rack and, lastly, don’t be too polite to not reciprocate someone else’s conversational advances. You came here to work; there’s a coffee shop next door.

 2. Game Plan

Especially for first timers, come to the gym with at least a rough outline of what you want to get accomplished. What body parts are you working? What machines/equipment/space do you need? How long should this take? Going in without a basic plan of action will include sideaffects such as wasting time and appearing as lost and confused as a virgin on prom night.

 3. Shit or Get Off the…Bench

Don’t hog a piece of equipment. Use it efficiently and be done. When you need to leave for a moment, lay a towel or belonging down to mark your territory but hurry back! If someone else needs to use your rack or equipment and appropraches you, let them know how much longer you’ll be on it but be a team player and offer for them to work in if it’s going to be awhile.

4. The Buddy System

Bring a friend to keep you on track. Whether you two are doing the same workout or are just meeting there to do your own thing, sometimes having someone there to keep you accountable helps. Just remember, the other rules still apply.

 5. Try A Class

Take thinking out of the equation and do as you’re told. Read up on what your facility offers and attend something that aligns with your fitness goals. You’ll be pleasently surprised and will also learn some exercises to do on your own. Plus, there’s often going to be women present.

 6. She’s Not Doing it For You

Despite what we may think, women are not constantly vying for our approval. That being said, quit showing off and/or inappropriately flirting with them on the fitness floor. They come for the same reason we do. There’s a time and place for everything – while she’s doing squats is not it.

 7. Wax On, Wax Off

Simple. Wipe down your mat / machine / bench with a gym wipe or towel. Nobody wants your sweat on them. Nobody’s into that.

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8. Don’t Be Creative

There’s nothing wrong with breaking the mold of functional fixedness most of the time but when you start doing bicep curls in the squat rack, Karl Duncker rolls in his grave. Most racks and pieces of equipment have a primary function that someone else may only be able to do a particular exericse on. Be wise: think about what you’re doing and where you’re doing it.

 9. Re-rack Your Damn Weights

Maybe you weren’t home trained so you don’t understand this one: When you use something – be it dumbbells or a bosu ball – put it back where it’s supposed to go. Get fit but don’t be a dick.

10. Do Some Cardio, Why Dontcha?

Unless you’re a professional powerlifting champion, you should work yourself in some cardio. No, you’re not going to loose all of your muscle right away. No one said you had to go on the treadmill for an hour – just do what works for you. Mix in some high intensity bodyweight moves, run outside, shorten your rest time, do circuits, etc.

Title photo credit: flickr

in your inbox everyday at 10am CST.

No fluff or "pie in the sky inspiration." Just real stories.