Mind your manners: 7 rules to follow in the gym
Our member and physiotherapist, Shae Martello, explains how we can be well behaved in the gym
Exercise is great. My favourite place to exercise is in a gym. However, it is important to remember that with commercial gyms, this is a space that you share with hundreds of other people, mostly strangers, who all pass through at some point during the day.
If you’re thinking about starting at a gym, or even if you’re a long term member, there is some essential gym etiquette we all need to be aware of:
1. Bring a towel, but also USE IT! There is nothing worse than getting on a machine only to find the person before you has left an intimate outline of their sweaty behind on the seat. Lay your towel down on the machine as a barrier between you and the vinyl and when you are done, make use of the anti-bacterial gym wipes. If your gym does not have wipes, perhaps you should suggest they get some.
2. Whilst we’re on the subject of hygiene, your personal hygiene becomes everybody's business when you’re sweating together in a confined space. Wear deodorant. If necessary, reapply deodorant. Use your towel to wipe down your body if you are working hard and getting extra sweaty, no one wants to slip in your sweat puddle.
3. It’s lovely to say hello to the other people in the gym, but if they are in the middle of an exercise, don’t interrupt them mid-set.
4. When you are finished with an exercise, put your weights or mat away and tidy your area before moving onto something else. This includes wiping down your machine as I mentioned above. Re-rack your weights back in their storage area. You may think a 10 kilogram plate is light and fine to leave on a machine, but the member to follow may only be able to lift 5 kilograms and can't use the machine without getting help to move it.
5. If someone is using a machine you would like to use, it is fine to ask how much longer they will be, or if you can share, but it is not okay to stand over them and make them uncomfortable until they leave and free it up for you. If there are still weights on a machine, in an ideal world, someone is likely to still be using that machine, so ask those around you before you start using it.
6. When working out, remember to breathe. Exhale with the part of the exercise that is the hardest. Breathing is essential. Grunting and screaming is not. Put down your weights in a controlled manner, being mindful of the safety of those around you. If you are using free weights, the mirrors are there to allow you to monitor your form and ensure correct technique. Be mindful of standing in front of other people in the mirrored areas, as they may be using the mirror to help them do an exercise properly. On the contrary, the mirrors in the bathrooms are where you should go if you want to do an ab check and take a selfie.
7. Bathrooms and locker rooms should be left clean and tidy. If you are concerned about the cleanliness of your gym, bring it up with your club manager.
Hygiene, communication and common courtesy should be part of every gym routine. If you are unsure, have a chat to your gym manager, or ask one of your fellow members. Most importantly, enjoy your workout and train well.
Shae Martello is a physiotherapist at Healthfocus Physiotherapy in Albury, NSW. Shae has an interest in researching how nutrition affects recovery in adjunct to physical activity, and also safe resistance training for adolescents to improve performance. Shae promotes physical activity to her clients by brainstorming how it can fit into their daily routine and helping them explore other options if they do not have an interest in conventional activities. Shae's personal favourite form of physical activity is resistance training and she attempts to educate all clients on the benefits, especially adolescents. Call (02) 6041 5744 to make a booking to see her today!