After going to the gym 6 days a week for the last year and a half or so, I have started to pick up on a multitude of different things. New work outs, new equipment, different way to use equipment, how to approach helpful people and many other interesting intricacies. But the one thing that I have noticed the most is the lack of etiquette or lack of proper social interaction skills when people are in the gym. It is something that really bugs me because about 85 % of the people who I see at the gym abide by these rules – but that 15 % is so noticeable that it makes me stop and think. Is there some kind of book that is written? Are there more refined rules that we overlook in our gym contracts? Are we supposed to act differently when at the gym? And what constitutes improper etiquette at the gym? Well the answers are, maybe, probably, it depends and people’s reactions.
Maybe: who knows maybe there are several well known and published pieces of literature that hesitant or first time gym goers frequently buy on EBay, created by gym elitists.
Probably: there is probably a rule in the fine print of your gym membership that states you cannot occupy five different machines at once if people are trying to use them, but do people read and follow these things – for the most part no.
It depends: whether or not you should act differently in the gym is all about how you yourself perceive it. Meaning, are you the type of person that knocks a drink over at the party or a restaurant/bar and doesn’t pick it up because they paid money to get in and serviced, therefore, it is now someone else’s responsibility. Well if you are then you are most likely the same person that doesn’t re-rack weights or wipe off machinery or who takes up five machines at once. You may act a certain way in the comfort of your own home that doesn’t necessarily match up to the standards of society and I say great. But when you have to share common communal property with others you should be aware of how your actions are affecting that said shared space. It’s something funny like gym etiquette but it trickles further into the cracks and accurately reflects societal depictions in some cases. So in that sense, if you are aware that you share this common space with others and you respect that notion of shared community so to speak then no you don’t have to act differently, you can simply apply your everyday rational into your gym interactions and it will be fine – it’s not rocket science.
People’s reactions: you don’t have to be a fitness guru to notice when you are doing something improperly at the gym, you just have to not be brain dead. Whether it is using a machine the wrong way, taking someone’s spot or just about anything “deemed” un-gym like you can tell immediately by how people are reacting around you. When you are screaming during your sets (for whatever reason people seem to do this) to the point where its probably noticeable from the other side of the gym you can guarantee that everyone around you will at one point in the 30 seconds of actually screaming or the 30 seconds that proceed the screaming, stare at you with a dumb founded expression like you came to the gym without pants on. Then about three quarters of those people will in fact shake there heads in disagreement or make hilarious comments to their workout buddies about how dumb you look. You might care you might not – it is completely based on individual circumstance. This is how etiquette for the most part is defined in the gym and how it works itself out – people’s reactions and their responsiveness to your reactions.
I write this as an intro to segment that I am about to do on a personally studied phenomenon, appropriate behavior concerning the communal gym. I am no expert but after asking the opinion of different gym goers, gym employees and every day Joes who occasionally go to the gym, and watching the different reactions that the gym masses have to certain behaviors, I feel pretty confident about giving out an outline of behavior for people to think about the next time they work out. For the next 6 to 8 weeks I will be writing two “do’s” and two “don’ts” per week on behavior at the gym. You can take’ em or leave’ em, either way doesn’t matter to me but at least it will be out there.