Ah, the weight room. Some of us start lifting weights in school; others of us haven’t set foot in the weight room once in our lives. Either way, the weight room is a unique construction of unspoken rules, pressures, and physical growth. The mirrors, the racks of weights, and squat racks, and adjustable benches can all be stressful to navigate. Even more interestingly, the weight room can change depending on what time of day it is. Sometimes, it’s packed to the gills and you have to wait to use the equipment. Other times, it’s practically abandoned and you don’t have to wait on anything.
You’ll see all kinds of characters in the weight room. There’s the person who makes all sorts of weird noises or talks to his or her own muscles. There’s the person who can’t stop doing curls in front of the mirror. The person who builds up a pile of dumbells by his or her bench like it’s a fort under construction. The list goes on. The thing is, no matter what characters you observe, you might be one of them without knowing it. You might be damaging the delicate social environment of the weight room. But how do you know?
Clean the machines
You may have come to the gym to avoid cleaning your stuff, but cleaning at the gym is incredibly important. Athletic settings are common places to pick up all kinds of skin diseases, and we’re not just talking some itchy athlete’s foot – we’re talking really serious infections. When you work out, your sweat, abrasions you don’t notice, and contact with community surfaces make your skin very vulnerable. If you get infected, you shouldn’t be touching machines for at least a week, and while you might follow this rule, others may not. Protect yourself and others by thoroughly cleaning every bench and machine you touch. Your chosen gym should give you cloths and chemicals for this, and if it doesn’t, you should probably find a different gym.
Share equipment and machines
Depending on when you go to the gym, you might be dealing with a crowded weight room. In this case, it’s good etiquette to let others work in and access the equipment. You can also make the best use of your time and effort by doing some supersets.
Pick up after yourself
There’s nothing worse than heading to the weight rack for certain dumbells and not being able to find them until you look under a bench somewhere. Whether you’re using a medicine ball, a dumbell, or an exercise band, make sure you put it back where you found it (after cleaning it if that’s required). If you start to get annoyed with having to carry everything around, remember that you’re burning extra calories while doing so!
Exercise in the correct areas
When you’ve got a bunch of people brandishing heavy metal objects, orderliness is to everyone’s advantage. That is why weight rooms are laid out with certain zones for certain exercises. You don’t want to be doing hang cleans right by the free weights; someone is liable to get a black eye.
When we say “go easy,” we’re not saying don’t get a workout. You should do everything you can do get stronger. However, it’s all in the way you do it. Not all gyms are alike, but you can be pretty confident that any gym you visit won’t like you dropping heavy weights and grunting loudly. Using care and keeping your vocalizations to a minimum is a basic courtesy, and a great way to becomes a positive member of your gym rather than someone everyone wishes would leave.
Be respectful of people’s headphones
The biggest “leave me alone” sign anyone at the gym can broadcast is headphones. If you need to ask to work in or something else workout-related, it’s fine to approach these people. However, stick to basics and let them put their headphones back on. Save any chatting for later or not at all.