I am currently in the midst of two-a-day practices for my college’s swim team (one more week left! I have never been so happy for classes to start). Although most of our time is spent in the water, we make frequent trips to the weight room. During the off season you can find me in the gym almost every day. I love working out, it makes me feel more alert and energized (I also don’t feel so guilty grabbing that last piece of cake off the dessert table after either). The gym can also be a scary place, especially for women. I will admit it, I get really nervous (and try to avoid it at all costs) going into the free weights section of my gym at home without my fiancée. I feel like I don’t belong there and that everyone is staring at me, judging how much weight I am lifting and if I am doing the exercises correctly. I am slowly getting over this fear; it’s a work in progress. Here are a few etiquette tips that I like to keep in mind while at the gym to make myself feel more at ease and in place:
*Share! Don’t sit on equipment to rest, read, or talk on the phone. Someone else could be using that equipment while you rest and vice versa. The same rules applies for dumbbells, put the weights back on the rack while you rest in case someone else wants to sneak in a set. The only time you do not need to follow this rule is when you are using a stacked barbell. If someone is waiting try to be as quick as possible.
*When you are done using a stacked barbell, empty it. The next person who comes along may not know how to clear the bar correctly or may not be able to lift as much weight as you. Even if you are only using ten pound weights, empty the bar.
*Carry a towel. No one wants your sweat. Make sure to wipe off all benches and equipment when you are done.
*Gyms tend to be a little cramped so don’t block the pathways or any empty areas. Don’t carry your gym bag around with you, that’s what the locker room is for. Also, the gym is not for socializing so yes, it’s not alright to stand in the middle of the pathway with three friends talking for thirty minutes.
*If there is a line behind you at the water fountain, be quick! If you want to take a long drink, go to the back of the line.
*Especially for us women, take care of the locker room! Take a quick shower if people are waiting and take all your supplies out of the shower with you (including the hair in the drain). Don’t hog the whole mirror or the blow dryer. If you get hair around the sink or on the counter, clean it up. Only use one locker to store your belongings.
*Minimize phone conversations, especially on cardio machines. No one wants to listen to your boring work conversation or about how drunk you got last weekend. If your phone conversation is turning into a long one, go to the lobby.
*Try to stick with drinking just water. Bringing sugary drinks or smoothies out onto the gym floor increases risk of spilling, resulting in sticky spots left behind on the floor.
*If the gym is busy, limit your cardio workout to 30-60 minutes. It may not look like someone is waiting for your machine but I guarantee someone is eyeing it from the weight section.
*Return all equipment to the exact place you found it, don’t make the people after you search around the gym.
*If you are waiting for a piece of equipment or cardio machine, don’t hover. There are many other exercises you could be doing while you are waiting.
*My favorite tip: don’t offer other people unsolicited advice. You probably aren’t a personal trainer so don’t act like one. If someone does ask you for advice, go ahead and give it but only if you are 100% sure of the answer, you don’t want them to hurt themselves.
*Dress appropriately, you aren’t at the beach! No ripped clothing or jeans. Try to minimize cleavage and don’t wear shorts/pants that show your underwear.
*Lastly, if you notice that a piece of equipment or a machine is broken, report it! You don’t want others to get hurt and the faster you report it, the quicker the gym can fix it.
The gym is a public place where manners still count. Most gym goers only have very limited time in their day to work out, so be considerate of others. Oh yeah, and don’t be scared of all those muscle men in the weight section. You deserve to be there just as much as they do.
Now, go practice your ‘lipstick confidence’!