Sunday, October 6, 2013

Basic Guide to Gym Etiquette

I just recently started going to the actual gym—or rather, the tiny room in my college while they renovate the real gym—again, and in only two days I got enough inspiration to write this article: a very basic guide to gym etiquette, because apparently it’s something that needs to be written.

Avoid looking like this.
Gym etiquette—to say, how to behave while at the gym—boils down to one simple rule: don’t be a goddamn asshole.

That’s it. That’s the rule. You’re done reading if you want. However, there are many sides to this one rule which you need to respect from the very, very first day you set foot in a gym. Being new there doesn’t excuse you of anything or gives you license for anything, just as much as being a 310 lb Mr. Olympia runner-up doesn’t either. I will outline a list of basic sub-rules here.

Be very respectful, tactful and sensitive.

Golden rule. More so than in life outside the gym.

I don’t give a hairy shit if you’re Brad Pitt or Phil Heath: if you have the grapes to bully, make fun, make snarky remarks or otherwise insult another customer at the gym, I wish you the very worst. If you see a skinny guy having trouble and you just laugh or make fun with your bros, if you see an overweight girl and make a hurtful comment, you deserve to be stripped naked, castrated, flayed alive, pissed on by a diabetic grizzly, and then put to death.

Even if you’re doing it as (what you consider) a “good-spirited” joke, it’s just deplorable. You never know the insecurities the object of your jokes is dealing with, and your little jest might send them back home, never to return to the gym.

Don’t be that guy. Ever.

Bring a towel, and use it.

"What, you don't want my sweat?!"
Many gyms—but not enough—require that you bring a towel along for you workout. What I don’t understand is how a lot of people don’t really seem to get why this is being asked of them. They bring a towel along, hang it on the machine they’re using, do a couple of pull downs, then take it and wipe their faces.

Here’s what that towel is for: to keep your gross butthole sweat away from others. Among other things.

It’s not to refresh your face after it’s gotten sweaty. It’s so you put it on the damn seat of the damn machine so you don’t get sweat on the equipment. And if you do get sweat on the equipment, as you probably will, so you can wipe it the hell off. No one wants your salty signature on their clothes, so don’t leave it for them.

And it’s not only that, I mean—you don’t want someone else’s butthole sweat on your clothes, do you? Unless you’re into some weird R. Kelly body fluids fetish (this reference brought to you by the year 2002), chances are you’re not. It’s just basic hygiene.

Don’t hog the weights.

It’s easy for people to sometimes feel like they own the gym. After you’ve been going there for a while sometimes you might feel like you’re a member of the club of people who goes there more often than the rest. Hell, maybe you’re even friends with the instructor, so you get to call the shots.

Nope. The equipment isn’t yours any more than it is anyone else’s so hogging a bunch of weights without sharing them is absolutely unacceptable. If you need to do a drop set with dumbbells, you either make completely sure no one needs any of the weights you’re using, or replace the exercise with an equivalent in a machine or cables. If you must use three pairs of dumbbells, and someone else needs them, talk to them and alternate their use.

If you’re alternating a machine with someone, return it to the other’s setting.

If you follow this rule, and you should, you’ll get frustrated at first because you’ll probably be the only one who does. Basically, if you find yourself using the same machine as someone else at the gym, and you’re using different weights, change it for the other after you finish your set so they can start theirs.

Say you’re using cables and doing tricep pulldowns with 100 lbs. Some dude wants to use it to do cable curls with 50 lbs. You should agree to alternate with the guy and when you’re done with your set, you switch the weight from 100 lbs to 50 lbs for him. Unless the guy is a total prick, he will do the same for you. Even better, he’ll learn that it’s the cool thing to do and will do it for someone else next time.

Be that guy.

Return every single weight and bumper you use.

"Hey guise check out how much I  just squatted!"
If you finish squatting and you leave a bunch of bumpers on the squat rack for the next person to clean up, you deserve a special particularly rapey place in hell. You never know who is the next person who is going to use the squat rack or Smith machine. It might be a skinny guy or a girl who can’t hope to remove those bumpers. Same goes for leaving dumbbells on the floor after you’re done with them.

You were strong enough to use them you sure as fuck are going to be strong enough to put them back. Even if you found them on the floor in the first place, you're better off being the polite guy who puts them back than the one who doesn't give a shit.

Don’t be an attention whore.

Sometimes, when completing a particularly hard set, you need to grunt a little. It happens; unless you're in Planet Fitness, it's completely okay.

That being said, don't be that guy/girl who desperately wants everyone to look at you. Don't grunt and yell with every rep. Don't drop the weights heavily (if you brought that deadlift up, you can bring it down!). Don't start dancing to show everyone your enthusiasm and confidence. No one in there is your audience; they don't give a shit. Just do your thing.

Seriously, if you're worth being looked at, chances are you are going to be looked at.

Don't correct anyone’s form.

Sometimes you’ll be doing your thing and you’ll notice some dude next to you doing an exercise wrong—either holding the weights wrong, not doing a full range of motion, using momentum, or something else. It’s very important that, unless you see s/he’s hurting themselves, don’t approach and correct them.

Here’s the thing: if you’re new to the gym, chances are you don’t really know what the other guy/girl is doing. There are many variations to very basic exercises that look like poor form. I was once doing reverse grip curls and some bro decided I was holding the bar wrong. He might have meant well, but it was irritating nonetheless.

If someone approaches you and for whatever reason asks for help, and you’re 100% completely positively absolutely sure that you know what you’re talking about, then go ahead. Otherwise, point him/her towards the gym coach.

If you’re bringing your own music, use headphones.

This is pretty self explanatory. There are few things more irritating, in and outside the gym, than the dude who thinks everyone wants to share their shit music taste. If you don't have headphones, tough shit; you're stuck listening to the repetitive un-tss-un-tss that inexplicably booms in every gym ever.

Don’t stare.

Don’t stare at the huge guy bench pressing 300 lbs (even if he wants you to). Don’t stare at the skinny guy having trouble curling 15 lbs. For the love of Jesus’ rock-hard abs, don’t stare at the hot girl doing seated hip abductions. This shouldn’t have to be said.

If you’re going to pose check yourself out, don’t get in anyone’s way.

I can’t really think of any reason why you would start striking poses in the gym unless you’re Ronnie Coleman and you’re in Gold’s Gym. That being said—all right, there’s nothing really wrong with posing if you’re preparing yourself for a show and want to see what you look like with a pump.

However, the mirrors in the gym aren’t there for you to check yourself out—they’re in there to let you see your form from different angles and make sure you’re doing it properly. If you stand in front of a mirror to check yourself out and are getting in the way of someone else’s proper use of the mirror, fuck you.

Oh and god help you if you take your fucking shirt off. Unless it’s a Crossfit gym (where it should still fucking unacceptable), you’re going to reveal yourself as the figuratively biggest douchebag in town.

Fun story: once I saw a dude get a boner from checking himself out. I am not kidding.

Don’t chat up the instructor.

This will depend entirely on each individual gym. Being a gym instructor is a pretty boring job, so many times they are open for chat and such, but I always recommend not wasting anyone’s time when you’re at the gym. You should be concerned about your own workout, not how much the instructor can bench.

Here’s the thing: chances are these guys have heard the same comments, compliments and questions a trillion times. A lot of people like befriending the instructors to get his approval, confirm a sense of belonging and demonstrate seniority in the gym (remember gyms are both the cradles and graves of insecurity). Remember you’re more likely to annoy the instructor than you are to get his approval.

If for some reason you just need to befriend that guy (whom, remember, is working), test the waters I suppose. Play it by ear.

Now that doesn’t mean you should stay away from him/her. As I said, it’s a mostly boring job. If you need his/her assistance for any reason (you need a spot, help with an exercise, help with a routine, etc.), please go ahead.

Don’t chat up anyone else.

The same thing applies for other customers at the gym. If you’re there with your friends, feel free to chat, but please don’t bother anyone else. Gym time is, with many people including myself, a time of peace and meditation. One of the reasons I love going to the gym so much is that I go to a very zen place when I’m lifting weights, listening to music.

I’m particularly anti-social, but trust me: there’s nothing more obnoxious than having some dude you don’t even know trying to spark up conversation while you’re trying to do your workout. You’re probably not going to make friends with that guy; you’re more likely than not just interrupting his groove. Talk to him when you’re done.

Don’t hit on girls, either. A lot of girls (and guys, too, obviously) are there to be hit on, but you cannot identify which ones are there to be attention whores and which ones are there to work out. Save yourself the trouble and just don’t hit on anyone. The gym is not a bar.

I think that’s it for now. Remember these rules and respect them. If everyone followed these rules, nobody would hate going to the gym. It’s up to you whether you want to be the guy who makes working out a better experience, or if you want to perpetuate the “gyms are full of douchebags” paradigm.

Steve is a cunthole. Don't be like Steve.

1 comment:

  1. So that's why I suggest that we upgrade our workout wardrobes, ladies! John