The essence of a gym hasn’t changed much over the years in terms of what you’ll find there. Most have a weightlifting area, a cardio area with bikes and ellipticals, a sauna, pool, and shower. Some of the bigger gyms also offer classes like yoga, cycling, and dance. Another thing that hasn’t change is the importance of men knowing, at the very least, the top 10 basic etiquettes of going to a gym. So, based on some recent experiences, here are my Men's Top 10 Etiquette Gym Tips.
10. MIND YOUR MUSIC
While most gyms offer a shared music listening experience through their speaker system, it’s hard to find someone who isn’t plugged into their own smartphone. If you’re going with your personal audio listening experience, just remember that no one wants you to play DJ. Keep your volume to a level that doesn’t encroach on anyone else’s listening enjoyment of the gym music, their own music, or the natural sounds of the gym.
9. A LITTLE LESS CONVERSATION
Unless you’re there with a buddy and you’re working out together, maybe not everyone wants their routine interrupted with your half-hour long story about how great your weekend was. Before you try to strike up a conversation with someone, check out the signals they’re sending. For example, if someone is wearing ear buds, has their eyes closed while focusing on their routine, or has their head down, or is doing breathing exercises between sets, they probably don’t want to be bothered with conversation. If you do find a social connection while you’re there, take it away from the gym equipment so others can take advantage of the equipment instead of watching you hang off it while you talk sports or try to solve world problems.
8. MANAGE YOUR WEIGHTS
Lifting weights isn’t always about how much you can lift, but also about how much control you have using your mind as much as your body. That is a lesson that can spill over into other aspects of your life too. With some training exceptions, if you can’t control the weights coming back down, you’re probably lifting more than you should be. Crashing your weight plates down on each other or making the floor rumble as you toss your bar to the ground before it crushes your wrists and back isn’t garnering you any respect among gym rookies or veterans alike. Besides, your loud weight plate crashing is disruptive to other’s workout routines. If you’re super serious about a heavy weight training program, you might want to find a gym that offers an environment more geared to that instead of a family gym.
7. MEN, MIND YOUR SPACE
The locker room isn’t meant to be a spa. Most gyms squeeze in more lockers than bench space to sit or change at, so it’s not reasonable to think that you should take up most of the bench in front of your locker when there are twenty other lockers around you. That means being selective of what goes on the bench, and if that’s you, then maybe your bag goes in front of you on the floor or even underneath the bench. Perhaps you might even consider alternating what comes in or out of your locker. Above all else, don’t go take a shower and leave your stuff sprawled all over the bench, floor, or other shared spaces.
A couple of other “mind your space” tips include not trying to squeeze in front of a guy who is changing and his locker as neither you or him want you to brush up against his nakedness unnecessarily. Also, leave your smartphones out of the sauna, as no one wants to hear your conversation about what to pick up on the way home. Everyone else in the sauna wants to relax and get away from the daily noise.
6. CLEAN YOUR MACHINES
Most gyms now provide disposable cleaning wipes and extra cleaning solution, often strategically placed around the gym. Those wipes are meant to be used to wipe the sweat you leave behind from your back, butt, arm pits, legs, face, and hands. No one wants to clean up your sweat and they shouldn’t have to! Besides, you’ll be a better man for leaving the machines cleaner than what you found them.
5. MANAGE YOUR TIME IN THE SHOWER
There is no scenario where you should be in the shower for 60 minutes at the gym. In fact, there probably isn’t even a scenario where you should be longer than 10 minutes, unless you have a need to use an assistive shower stall. Here’s the basics: wash your hair, rinse, maybe add conditioner, wash your body, rinse your head and body. Like the bench situation with the lockers, most gyms have a limited number of showers, so it’s even more important to have greater awareness when the showers are a bit busier than usual. No one wants to stand around in a line with a towel around their waist waiting for you to finish singing your tenth version of Welcome To The Jungle, so wash, dry, and move on!
4. GO EASY ON THE COLOGNE
One of the best feelings after a good workout is to smell fresh and clean and sometimes a bit of cologne makes it feel even better. That doesn’t mean that the guy 3 locker rows over should smell your Brute cologne, that it should creep out the entrance door, or linger for twenty minutes after you left. Cologne is one of those less is more type of things. The more you have on, the more the signal you’re giving off is an insecure “look at me”. Cologne or deodorants should be something more personal. It’s one of those less is more kind of things that demonstrates confidence if you have just the right amount on.
3. DON’T LEAVE BEHIND YOUR USED TOWELS
You are one with your towel, whether you wiped the sweat off your brow after some serious cardio, took it with you into the Sauna, or wiped yourself down after your shower. No one wants to share any of your bodily fluids that you’ve left behind on that towel. If you watch the gym staff, they wear gloves to remove the towels for washing, so there’s no reason you should leave towels behind in your locker, the bench, the floor, or anywhere where someone else needs to pick them up and move them out of the way! Clean up after yourself and bring your towels to the designated towel hamper.
2. SHOWER BEFORE YOU GO IN THE POOL
Chlorine and pool cleaners will only go so far when it comes to dipping your sweat dripping body into the pool. Whether you’ve finished your workout, and you want to go for a dip, or you’re coming out of the sauna, take a shower! Cleaning off your sweat before you dip into the pool, or even whirlpool is a good hygiene practice that helps keep the shared water cleaner and prevents you from dragging along your body odor like pig-pen’s cloud of dust on Charlie Brown’s Peanuts.
1. DON'T PEE OR SPIT IN THE SHOWER
There’s a saying that goes something like, don’t S#!T where you eat and it applies here when it comes to peeing or spitting your phlegm in the shower. It’s gross, unsanitary, and disrespectful to the guy who’s going to use the shower stall after you. No one wants to see your booger or smell your left-over pee and you wouldn’t want to see or smell someone else’s either. Either way, if you do this at home, remember, you’re not at home and if you don’t do this at home, then don’t do it at the gym either and treat it like your home!
These are just a few tips that I’ve observed from firsthand experiences at the gym that I know have value in sharing. If you see yourself in any of these, you can adjust your behaviours to make the experience better for others and yourself. Be better, you know you can. You’ll feel better about it when you do because others will take notice and follow your lead.
This is an opinion article by Guido Piraino of The Monthly Social Podcast. It may also be heard on The Path Radio Mix Online. You can read other opinion articles on the blog page. You may also enjoy video content of The Monthly Social Podcast on YouTube or The Path Radio Mix on YouTube. For sports content, please consider The Coach's Call YouTube Podcast.