If you have already read the first part of our gym etiquette for beginners article, you'll have seen a few obvious and important facts that you need to be aware of when you visit the gym for the first time.
Gym etiquette for newbies can be tough to get your head around, but keeping these in mind will help you feel more comfortable in the gym. In part 2, we'll list tips that will help you acclimatize to the gym atmosphere and build relationships with other members and staff.
#1. Give Space
It's hugely important for safety reasons that you are giving other people space when they use the dumbbells and creating space for yourself while using them. Always check around you before even starting to lift, and make sure that any dumbbells in use nearby have room to move. You'll also want to stay further away from the dumbbell rack. There is nothing more disrupting when you'd like to pick up a specific weight, and someone is blocking the way.
#2. Don't Block Members' View of the Mirror
People often need to look in the mirror to watch their exercise form - it's not always vanity! Whatever their reason, it's good practice to avoid being in their line of sight. Otherwise, you might only end up frustrating and annoying some people. If you need to walk in front of someone using the mirror, wait until they get a break in their set.
#3. Don't Drop the Weights
This one is probably obvious, but you should make sure not to drop the weights, whether you are using dumbbells or barbells. First, you can hurt yourself, hurt others near you, and damage gym equipment or the floor. If you want to make sure that you will have a gym to come to in a year, look after the equipment like it was yours.
#4. Check if the Machine or Equipment is Free Before Using It
It is not always immediately apparent whether a particular piece of equipment or machine is free, so it's vital that you take a moment to double-check if anybody is using it. This is a simple case of looking around the area and checking for any 'in-use' signs - such as a water bottle resting on the machine or a towel.
#5. Working in with Someone
If you have noticed someone using the equipment you want to use, there is always the possibility you can 'work in' with them, meaning you share the space. In this case, you'll be resting while the other person is working and the other way around. Just make sure that you ask them first! They might not want to do it, and that's up to them, so don't force yourself on anyone. And make sure that you are using similar weights if you decide to do this.
#6. Circuits and Supersets
A circuit is a training method where you perform multiple exercises for repetitions one after the other, then start the round again from the first one. If you do circuits with free weights, you might want to choose options where you can work with minimum equipment.
When using machines and other fixed equipment, you can optimize your circuit by choosing exercises on machines close to each other to minimize disruption for you and annoyance for other gym members.
A superset is the same principle, except you'd be doing 2 exercises before resting for the next set.
#7. Be Considerate When Approaching Members in Action
Sometimes, when another person is working on a machine you need, it might be worth asking how many sets they have left and if anybody is waiting. If not, you can kindly ask them to let you know when they're done.
Before you ask them, wait for a break in their set before asking your question. If you decide to stick around, still give them space, don't get in their line of sight, wait until they give you the sign, and don't disturb their sets.
#8. Don't Curl in the Squat Rack
This one is a running joke among gym-goers because it happens often. This is because standard gyms have one, maybe two, squat racks. That means everybody who wants to do barbell squats will have to share that one rack. At the same time, people use far smaller weights for barbell curls, which doesn't justify hogging a squat rack, a safety measure for people squatting with heavy weights.
#9. Unsolicited Advice is a Hard No
This goes both ways. If you are approached by someone trying to give you advice, nod politely and then go on your way, carrying on with your exercise. If they insist, kindly tell them that you're busy and would like to get on with your workout. Any issues with persistent disturbers, let staff know.
On the other hand, refrain from trying to advise other members, especially if they didn't ask for it. First of all, people don't like a know-it-all. Still, more importantly, if they injure themselves by trying to follow that advice, you directly cause them harm. Better to keep your opinion to yourself. Maybe if someone is doing something dangerous, report it to the staff.
#10. Eating and Drinking
Water and other sports drinks are good for you when working out, so feel free to bring them - but be careful not to spill them everywhere. However, when it comes to eating, you'll want to save the main meal for when you get home. You might be able to get away with a banana or a protein bar or shake, but do it before you get to the machines or after your session in the cafeteria area.
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