Learn the basic fitness code of conduct to exercise with confidence.
When you are visiting the gym, the last things you want to deal with is displaced equipment and sweat from the person who previously used a machine without wiping it. With Covid-19, at least strict measures are now placed to have equipment sanitised after use. With most people back in the gym and working out, I’ve decided to put a list of some of the most common gym etiquette mishaps you might have faced and how to make this right.
IN THE LOCKER ROOM
1. Unnecessarily long conversations: The locker room is already an area that stresses some people. Most people aren’t comfortable showering and changing with a ton of other people present. Stopping to have a long conversation in the locker room with your friend while others are trying to change and get ready for their workout, or for the rest of their day, can be disruptive, rude and uncomfortable. What to do instead: tell your friend you’ll meet them outside by the lobby area to finish your conversation there. That way, you’ll still get to catch up without disrupting others.
ON THE MACHINES
1. Being too close for comfort: If you’re going to a larger gym, you typically understand that you may be working out directly next to someone. However, if you have several machines available to you, try not to be right next to someone if it isn’t necessary. Most people on machines are there to get their sweat on, not to have a conversation. Grabbing a machine right next to them can feel like a mild invasion of their space and their “me” time. What to do instead: give yourself one machine’s worth of space between you and the other people, if you can. This allows for a little breathing room for when the gym isn’t so crowded.
2. Hogging equipment: In a crowded gym, equipment is like gold. This is especially true when there are limitations. The last thing you want to do is make people wait in frustration. Always be willing to share. What to do instead: Try to limit your time per machine if you see a queue growing. I agree first come, first serve but if you’re going to spend over
30 minutes on the same cardio machine or more than two or three sets on a machine while someone is waiting to use it, that makes you look selfish.
3. Not wiping down the machine after you use it is a huge gym faux pas. What to do instead: Wipe down the machine before and after you use it. Wiping down the machine before you use it ensures that you aren’t dealing with the remains of someone else’s workout, and wiping it down afterward ensures that the next person to use it has a clean and sanitised machine.
THE WEIGHT RACK
1. Not sharing: While many larger gyms have a fair amount of free weights and barbells during peak hours, it can be hard to get a chance to use everything you had planned. Hogging a set of dumbbells while you work four or five sets of one exercise spreads the problem and can leave others feeling displeased. What to do instead: Ask or offer to work on your sets with someone else. If you’re working four or five sets of an exercise, you’ll need breaks in between, so working with a partner can ensure that you both get your workout done in half the time.
2. Leaving the equipment anywhere but where it belongs: When you’re trying to get your workout in, it is super frustrating when you go to the weight rack and can’t find the weights you need, only to see that someone left them out or put them back in a spot where they don’t belong. It makes it harder to finish workout timely.
IN GROUP TRAINING CLASSES
1. Personal space. Fitness classes can get pretty crowded. Yoga can sometimes feel a bit suffocating. Standing too close to someone can not only make them feel uncomfortable, but can lead to someone’s toes getting stepped on or someone hurting themselves trying to avoid hitting another. What to do instead: Stand with your arms straight out and pivot around in a circle. Your arms should never touch your neighbours’. Then do a lunge forward, backward, and out to each side to ensure that you have a small circle you can work in.
PUT YOUR PHONE AWAY
Your phone has no place in the gym – unless you’re using it to keep track of your timings or workout. The minute you turn the camera onto those mirrors for a spree of selfies, you’ve given up your phone privileges. Keep it in your pocket, invest in some of the best sweat-proof headphones for working out, and use your phone as it was intended to be used in the gym – to blare incentivizing techno at you.
Article written in collaboration with Thapelo Mowela
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