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Exercise Your Manners

From the crude to the cringe-worthy, these bad gym behaviors are serious pet peeves. Are you guilty of any?

Ashton Greer
January 28, 2020

Working out is an investment of both time and money. And it’s not always easy to get to the gym or stay motivated. But as you start to see progress and notice how much better you feel, it can begin to become a lifetime routine.

This can be very important for some people since they use exercise for several reasons such as losing weight, gaining muscle, or even reducing symptoms of harmful disease. You want to get the most out of your time when you can go, but it doesn’t help when the gym is full of annoyances that detract from your workout and make you less than thrilled to come back.

It is already hard enough to fit gym time into your busy schedule that you do not want to encounter any roadblocks while spending a part of your busy day exercising and wearing out your body. From the locker rooms to the equipment, there is an unspoken rule to leave distance if available. For instance, if the gym is practically empty, there’s no need to hop on the treadmill right next to someone who’s already been running.

Most can relate to at least some of these gym pet peeves. If you read through this list and realize you are one of these people, now’s the time to start making some changes.

Excess cellphone use
As cellphones become more advanced, people become more distracted and glued to the screens of their phones. People feel like they need to be connected 24/7, which can be a problem when it comes to working out. Studies show that people who spend time on their phones in between reps show a decrease in the intensity of their workout. This decrease in intensity leads to a reduced heart rate, which means you are burning less energy.

Few things are more annoying than someone talking on their cellphone. The machines make the room louder than usual to begin with, so people feel the need to scream while they are having a conversation. Others don’t need to hear your life story or drama while trying to relieve stress. If you must take a call during your workout, go to a private and quiet area to have your conversation.

While it’s fine to log your workout, check how many reps and sets you have left, or change a song, texting with your buddies for long bouts of time (especially while someone else is waiting for the equipment) is poor gym etiquette.

When in the gym, put your phone down. You’ll not only reap benefits by ramping up intensity and training harder, but others around you may appreciate it as well.

Not wiping down equipment
One of the most important rules is to have proper sweat etiquette. Clean the equipment you use after finishing with it so that the next person does not come in contact with your germs. While it may not seem like a big deal to not clean your equipment, it can be a severe issue. It has been shown that free weights at a gym carry 362 times more bacteria than a public toilet seat. Sweat contains a wide assortment of germs and bacteria, leading to the spread of viruses. Tainted gym surfaces can cause you to catch staphylococcus aureus (staph infections), candida (ringworm), and even E. coli. If you forget to bring a towel, use your sweatshirt or paper towels provided by the club.
Not re-racking weights

It’s so frustrating to walk up to a barbell and find weights left on it. Not only do you have to take the time of re-racking someone else’s sweaty weights, but you may even have trouble carrying the weights.

Hogging equipment
Whether it be someone accumulating multiple pieces of equipment or sitting on a machine when not using it, hoarding equipment can be very frustrating. Most of the time, you are on a time crunch when at the gym, and it does not help when you are waiting for your turn for a piece of equipment.

If you see someone waiting to use a piece of equipment you’re on, ask them if they want to work in. If you have multiple sets left, try and finish your reps quickly to give them a chance. This becomes especially true when you’re doing supersets on various pieces of equipment.

Unless you hit the gym when it’s dead, don’t spend hours on one machine. This is especially pertinent during peak hours when people might have to wait for machines. A good rule of thumb for cardio equipment is to spend no more than 30 minutes on these machines.

Invading personal space
Give people their personal space. Do not unnecessarily crowd others. If there are five treadmills, and one is occupied while the other four are available, do not choose the one right next to the occupied machine. If you are waiting for equipment to become available, do not hover directly over the person using the machine. When in the locker room, do not lay all of your belongings out and take up more space than is necessary. It’s also important not to occupy shared space, creating obstacles for your fellow gym-goers. For instance, do not exercise right in front of the racks where all the dumbbells stored.

Excessive grunting
While grunting can be seen as actual exertion during a workout, it can be seen as obnoxious at times. Although some research says that 10% more force is exerted among athletes who grunt during their exercises, there is a distinction between a powerful grunt and an “I am trying to show off” grunt.  

It’s one thing to let out a little grunt if it helps you get the weight up, but it’s quite another to be shouting just to get attention. Screaming and distracting people from their sessions isn’t fair. Be respectful of others using the gym space.

Offering unsolicited advice
Having someone abruptly interrupt your workout to give you advice is distracting and humiliating. It is often already uncomfortable for many people to put themselves out there at the gym. Most gyms offer personal training services to their customers. You may have been studying the proper form for deadlifts and the best protein powders, but offering that advice to your neighboring weight lifter is most likely not welcome. Do what works best for you, but leave the advice to professionals.

Training sick
There might be some truth to sweating out a fever, but when it comes to shared spaces, it’s important to remember that full-blown coughs and sky-rocketing temperatures are not communal. A couple of sniffles are fine, but if you’re blowing your nose between sets, coughing in between reps, or have a fever, stay home and rest. You’re not only delaying your recovery, but you’re also risking getting everyone else in the gym sick as well.