Essential Gym Rules You Must Learn


With more and more gyms popping up around Lagos, it’s important to understand the gym code of conduct… you need it! The idea actually came to me while sitting in the cinema and thinking ‘if only someone wrote about cinema etiquette’, while some guy behind me was on the phone during the movie. Lord knows we could use some traffic etiquette as well.

Gyms don’t always hand out a “Rules of Conduct” book when you join. You’re simply expected to act like a decent human being, clean up after yourself and generally behave. Problem is, common sense doesn’t necessarily reign in every fitness facility. Are you a regular gym-goer? Consider this required reading.

Mirror/Selfie Obsessed
From the time this person steps into the gym, their eyes don’t leave the mirror. It almost creeps you out how hard they are staring at their own reflection. Just stop it. Then there are selfies! I will be the first to admit that I take them, but it’s my job and I must show people that I practice what I preach. If you must take selfies, please consider the people in the background that will feature on your Instagram page. And for goodness sake, do NOT interrupt someone’s workout to have them take your picture.

If You’re Sick, Stay Home
Coughing and sneezing during a fitness class or while lifting weights leaves a trail of nasty microbes waiting to infect the rest of the gym. In general it’s okay to exercise with “above the neck” symptoms like a sore throat or runny nose. But in fairness to your non-sick fellow fitness fanatics, if you’re going to get some exercise in while you’re battling a cold, you should opt for an at-home. If you do choose to work out at the gym, be respectful of others and be sure to properly sanitize all equipment that you use, which you should always do, sick or not.

Obey Cardio Time Limits
During busy times of day many gyms limit cardio sessions on machines, usually to 20 or 30 minutes. Refusing to step off after your designated time impacts the person waiting behind you and simply isn’t fair. You want to train smarter, not longer, so if you’re hopping on the elliptical with a 30-minute time limit, make the most out of the time you have by kicking up the intensity with intervals. Many studies show these shorter workouts burn more calories for hours afterward.
The Rack Hugger
This is the person who picks up the dumbbells and doesn’t step back from the weight rack, thus making it a tightrope walk for anyone else to use any of the other weights. Normally the person lifting weights has the right-of-way. But when you choose to perform one-armed rows with one hand on the rack, or you grab two dumbbells for biceps curls and step back only two inches, you prevent others from accessing the weights. This is a high traffic area where you risk blackening the eye or breaking the nose of some nice gym-goer who is just trying to access the weights. Your best bet is to grab the weights you need and retreat to an area where you can exercise but still not obstruct traffic. And remember to re-rack them when you’re finished with your set.

He’s doing a standard workout and making sure the entire world knows about it. That’s the Grunter, the guy or girl who can’t exercise without forcefully exhaling like it’s a televised Olympic event. To be fair, there are some arguments in favor of grunting: Exertion is often easier when breathing out, an occasionally noisy process. Many find that the grunting is an integral part of their strength and timing, something they can’t exercise without. Which would be fine if they were in the gym alone. But they’re not, and a key element of the gym social contract is staying out of other people’s hair.

The Girl Who Wears Absolutely Nothing Then Acts All Pissed Off When Everyone Looks At Her
Whatever you do, DO NOT LOOK AT HER. She will give you a death stare so searing, you’ll feel like you’re about to appear on the next episode of To Catch a Predator. While the clothes don’t necessarily make the workout, the right apparel can definitely enhance your exercise experience and help you to avoid any unwanted attention. As for the guys, taking off your top is an absolute NO.

Smell Good, Not Great
When your aroma, good or bad, enters the room before you do, it’s time to make some adjustments. Leave fragrances and colognes for outside the gym, but please use deodorant. Heavy fragrances and perfumes can be distracting to your fellow fitness class goers and can even trigger allergic reactions in some individuals. Strong body odor can also be very unpleasant, so either shower and/or swipe on deodorant before breaking a sweat. Also avoid using greasy lotions before you hit the gym. Once you begin to sweat, creams can make your skin slippery, making it difficult to hold your favorite arm balancing posture in yoga or properly grip and hold on to a barbell or kettlebell , which could put you at risk of injury.

Keep Unsolicited Advice To Yourself
No one likes being told what to do, especially from a know-it-all stranger. Even if you’re a trainer, unless you’re working at that gym, keep your opinions to yourself. If you see someone performing an exercise that puts them in danger or at risk for injury over time and you are legitimately concerned, immediately flag down the nearest trainer on staff and let them know about what you observed. There’s not an exercise or workout that can be done with an audience that wouldn’t be far more comfortable being done alone.

Don’t Use The Water Fountain To Refill Your Giant Bottle
Staying hydrated during your workout is important, but standing in front of the water fountain refilling your gallon size bottle creates a bottleneck of thirsty gym members waiting in line behind you. If you must, step to the side so people who want a fast gulp or two can get back to working out. And to avoid spreading germs don’t touch the spigot of the fountain to the mouth of your bottle.
Respect Other People And Stay off of your phone. No one wants to hear your conversations. There are times when making or taking a call is necessary, but it should not be standard operating procedure for you. Exceptions include a work crisis or a phone call from your wife or husband telling you the house is burning down. In that case, exit the training area to make your call. You’ll probably have better reception and more privacy outside, and the people around you will appreciate it.

The Chatterbox
This person sports a towel over his shoulder to create the illusion he actually produced some sweat that day. Meanwhile, he’s simply there to engage you in meaningless chatter. Keep your headphones on and do not, I repeat, do not make eye contact.

Obviously you can find creeps in many places other than the gym, but given the self-consciousness issues at play when working out, they are at their most bothersome in the gym. A creep is always a guy and somehow makes everyone uncomfortable. He’s had raging testosterone from the beginning of his workout and sized up every single girl in the facility. The occasional lick of the lips or wink reveals his role as the local pervert. Let’s face it, every gym has people who flirt. Spandex, sweat and all that heavy breathing can make it tempting to stare and hover over your neighbor’s treadmill.
I won’t call you out but you should be paying attention to what you are doing. This not only ensures that other exercisers feel comfortable in your presence, but it can help you to avoid injury and make the most out of your time spent at the gym.

Don’t Hog Equipment
Super-setting by working out on 2 or more different pieces of equipment prevents others from using them. Leaving your towel hanging on a machine doesn’t give you “dibs” on that piece of equipment. “You can’t have 3 or 4 exercises going on at once spread out over several weight benches to do your super sets. Put your weights back on the rack and bring your towel with you.

Unload Your Weight Bar
Okay, I’m totally guilty of this. Be a sport and don’t leave a bar or machine with full racks of 45-pound plates. The next person after you now has to remove all your weights before he or she can even begin. In addition, if you leave the weights on other people don’t know whether or not you’re finished using the equipment. The same rule applies to re-racking dumbbells when finished.

Wipe Down the Bench
Many gyms require you to use a towel when you work out, and with good reason. It’s just plain nasty to lie in someone else’s sweat. Always use a protective barrier between you and the bench, whether it’s a towel or shirt, and wipe down any surfaces with antiseptic wipes before or after use. And always shower and wash your hands immediately after your workout.