Whether you realize it or not, you and those you share a gym with form a community. Making that community an entity that can work together for everyone’s benefit means following a few sensible rules—rules that aren’t posted on the walls of your gym but probably should be.
Follow this simple code of conduct to ensure the safest, most productive—and least annoying—training environment for everyone around you. Go ahead and print these pages and tape them to the wall of your gym. It’s time everyone got the message.
1. Water Fountain Folly
There’s nothing more frustrating than standing in line behind the guy filling up his giant-size shaker cup or gallon jug of water when all you want is a quick sip between sets. If you’ve got a big bottle to fill and someone without a bottle gets in line behind you, step aside momentarily and let that guy drink first.
2. No Gym Hogs Allowed
This one should be the most obvious and self-explanatory, but many guys just don’t get it. The gym is a public space, and the weights belong to everyone. If the gym is nearly empty, circuit train all you want. But if it’s packed (as it is on most weeknights after working hours), don’t hog a bunch of equipment for yourself. If you absolutely need several pairs of dumbbells for a long giant set, be prepared to let other people work in.
3. Off the Rack? Put it Back.
You wouldn’t want to strip a few hundred pounds off the bar every time you go to the rack, so don’t leave anything on the bar when you’re done, either. Bars that don’t get stripped after sets will bend over time, and eventually be rendered useless to serious lifters. For dumbbells, many gyms label designated spots for each one, so put them back in those spots. This will also save time when you’re looking for what you need.
4. No Nudists Please
There’s nothing wrong with being comfortable in your own skin, and our opposition to strolling around naked in the locker room has nothing to do with homophobia. We just don’t need to see it, and we’ll wager that most guys feel the same way. It’s not that hard to cover up with a towel on your way to the shower, so please, do everyone a favor.
5. Forget Your Phone
There’s nothing more distracting than someone yammering away on his cell phone when you’re in the middle of a set. Most people stay connected 24/7 these days, but if you expect to get results in the gym, you’re not going to get them if you’re checking your phone every 10 seconds. Whatever it is, it can wait. Leave the phone in your car or locker.
6. Know Your Spotonomics
We’re all pressed for time when we train, but when someone is lifting without a partner, he’ll probably need a spot at some point in his workout. And at some point, that guy will be you. Just make sure you spot properly. On the bench, this means your hands should be hovering just an inch below the bar, ready to help in case the lifter gets in trouble. Before the set, agree on a cue he can give you during the set if he needs help. Otherwise, don’t help unless he completely stalls out.
7. Safety First
Lifting safely requires 100% concentration, so leave a decent-size buffer between you and anyone who’s in the middle of lifting. You should leave enough of a radius around other guys so that there’s no conceivable chance that you might be in the way if someone drops the weight. This is both a personal space and safety issue. Likewise, if you have a question like, “How many more sets do you have?” it can wait until a break between sets.
8. Karaoke Free Zone
No one wants to hear you singing along with the tunes coming through your headphones. Try to hit a falsetto note like Bon Jovi and people will run in terror. Try to keep up with Tupac and people will think you’re a mumbling psychopath. Whatever kind of music gets you moving, please keep it to yourself.
9. No Judgement Zone
Even if you are the new guy, we hope you won’t stay one for very long. Once you have the lay of the land, remember where you started, and that everyone was a new guy once. Offering help, or just saying Hi, can go a long way toward creating a positive, productive environment.
10. Honor Thy Gear
Equipment repairs can be few and far between at most gyms, so you’ve got to take care of what’s available. To wit: Don’t rest dumbbells on upholstery. Don’t let weight stacks crash down at the end of a set. And if you notice broken equipment, report it to management immediately. It will never get fixed if you keep it to yourself.
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