If you spend enough time in a gym, you’re bound to see some crazy things. I know. I’ve worked in gyms for almost a decade. And I couldn’t make this shit up if I tried.
That being said, there is specific etiquette attached to the world of physical fitness. And, while some will never learn, it’s never a bad thing to release a public service announcement of sorts to that unique person who may not actually know that he or she is violating the unspoken code. This is my own PSA. You’re welcome in advance.
SELFIES ON EXERCISE MACHINES = NO.
Okay. I get it. You’ve come this far. You’ve lost some fat, gained some muscle, and now you want to show it off to the world. That’s fine. Take your picture somewhere else. Even if no one is waiting to use the machine that you’ve draped yourself across with one iPhone-clad hand in the air as you work to grin nonchalantly while simultaneously flexing the everlasting shit out of your pecs, you still look kind of like a douche-nozzle. Finish your set and then take aforementioned selfie elsewhere. Because no one likes to wait around. And, chances are, there’s someone nearby who really is waiting for their turn to use the machine that you’ve claimed for an extra seventeen minutes while you search for the perfect Instagram filter.
GRUMPY HUFFY PERSON LOOMING OVER A MACHINE THAT’S ACTUALLY BEING UTILIZED? STAAAAHP.
On the flip side, there is a certain way to handle oneself while waiting for a machine to open up. If you see that someone is truly working out on a certain piece of equipment, and you’re anxious to have a turn, hang out nearby and make yourself visible … But don’t pout. No, really. It wasn’t cute when you were a kid. It’s really not-cute now. If said person hasn’t budged from the machine in over five minutes, and he or she is chilling in between sets without exiting stage left, ask him or her if you can work in. (That’s the grown-up version of “I like this toy. You like this toy. Let’s share!”)
FEEL LIKE CORRECTING SOMEONE’S FORM? YOU PROBABLY SHOULDN’T, UNLESS YOU ARE A PERSONAL TRAINER OR YOU WANT TO GET THROAT PUNCHED.
Here’s the thing. People are creatures of habit. This can be a good thing … or not. Generally speaking, if someone is working out alone, he or she does not want feedback. This can be uber-frustrating … especially if its looks like an injury is imminent. But it usually does no good to interject. I’ve learned this the hard way. As a former YMCA employee, I’ve witnessed some seriously cringe-worthy exercise attempts that were, at the very least, a waste of time — and, at worst, a muscle strain, sprain, or tear waiting to happen. Even as a fitness professional, I still received more eye rolls than ‘Thank You’s’ upon offering my genuine two cents.
Of course, if someone is playing frisbee with a 45-pound plate, then it’s time to say something — or maybe just run in the opposite direction and then join a different gym. But, for the most part, it’s wiser to simply let everyone else do their thing and leave the critiquing to the professionals.
Oh! And if you’re a dude who is using form correction as an excuse to talk to a pretty girl who is already doing her thing quite well without your help, then you need to see yourself out. I guarantee you she doesn’t want to hear about your get-swole bro science.
TO THE GIRLS WHO ARE DOING SINGLE ARM ROWS WITH 3 POUND DUMBBELLS? WE NEED TO TALK.
Girl, listen. I get it. It’s not your gym membership. You’re here as a guest, because your new boyfriend brought you, and here you are, standing in the free weight section checking your nails and making sure you don’t sweat out the keratin treatment your stylist just applied to your hair. Your boyfriend hands you some weights and you tee-hee a whole bunch before complaining about how, like, heavy it feels!
Alright. It’s pretty obvious that you’re intimidated. That’s okay! If you’re out of your element, you can admit that. The weights aren’t going to kill you. And they’re also not going to make you “manly” or “bulky”. In fact, if anything, it will get your metabolism moving more quickly. Also? That boyfriend of yours is not paying attention to whether or not your eyeliner is on point, or what kind of bag you carried into the locker room with you before you started working out. Guaranteed he’ll be more impressed with the actual effort you put into the workout while you’re there. If I’m wrong, you can come yell at me. (But I’ll very likely just tell you to go find a different boyfriend.)
WHEN IS A GOOD TIME TO MAKE SOME SMALL TALK? HINT — IT’S NOT IN THE MIDDLE OF A SET OF DEADLIFTS.
No, this happened. For real.
It was leg day. I was getting ready for a competition, and I had been instructed to work specifically on building some major muscle in my lower half. I was going extremely heavy for me — The rep range was somewhere between 4 and 6. I had my headphones in, and I was deadlifting. I was focused on absolutely nothing except getting the barbell from the floor to my hips with as much power as possible.
I was focused … that is, until Captain Douche came up behind me, stood close enough for me to actually feel his breath on the back of my neck, yanked out one of my earbuds, and asked me “What’s new?”
I told you I could not make this shit up if I tried.
Needless to say, my concentration was broken. I did finish up my set as best as I could — without answering Captain Douche’s question — before setting the barbell down, readjusting my headphones, turning around, and shaking my head no.
(I forgot to mention that I had never spoken to this person before in my life. So there’s that.)
Ladies and gentlemen — A gym is not a night club. If a person is working out, he or she is not available for mid-set small talk. Bottom line. No exceptions. Final answer.
DO NOT EAT DORITOS ON CARDIO MACHINES
Yes, I saw this happen. No, it is not recommended.
ARE YOU A HATER? GIRL, BYE.
If you remember nothing else about what I’ve written insofar, I hope sincerely that you remember this: It’s appropriate zero percent of the time to discourage, shame, or mock others for sincerely trying to improve their health and their lives. If you see a person who is overweight or out of shape at the gym, that person is there to be a better version of him or herself. If you make fun of that person, you are an ass hat.
Similarly, if you are in good shape, and you see someone at the gym who is in better shape, and you speak poorly about that person, then you are still an ass hat. Stop being an ass hat. We are all in this together. Confidence combined with effort is attractive. Jealousy, negativity, and bitterness are not.
That’s all for today, guys. Some day I’ll write an entire book about gym etiquette. Lord knows there’s enough material. Meanwhile, be happy, be healthy, kick ass, and mind your manners.
PS: Are you following me on Instagram? You should bc I post awesome fitness tips and workout related content on the regular. —> Click to follow me @mbprofitness