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11 Rules of Gym Etiquette That No One Will Tell You

11 Rules of Gym Etiquette That No One Will Tell You

The gym can be an intimidating place. It’s filled with big strong people that all seem to know each other and it’s easy to find yourself thinking negative thoughts. “What happens if I do something wrong?” or “I don’t want to make someone mad by doing something I shouldn’t do!” Letting these negative thoughts get the better of you will only keep you out of the gym and further away from reaching your health and fitness goals. So I’m here to help. I’m going to give you a little lesson on the rules of gym etiquette. Some of them you may already know, whereas others may be a little more subtle. The key takeaway is this: following these 11 rules will help you combat any “gymtimidation” that may be keeping you from feeling comfortable in the gym. Let’s get down to business.

1. No curls in the squat rack

This rule may be the butt of many jokes, but sure enough, every so often I see folks curling away in the squat rack. Why is this a bad thing? Well, what if I want to squat?! You should always assume that someone wants to use the very piece of equipment that you’re using. Therefore, being respectful of other people and only using equipment in the manner it was intended, is gym etiquette 101. Although I should note that in today’s world, it’s somewhat rare to even see someone using the squat rack in the first place! And that’s a shame because squats are a great lower body exercise and can be done very safely when performed with correct form and the appropriate weight.

2. Respect the weights

Let’s face it, weights are just hunks of iron. Sometimes the dumbbells may be coated with rubber, but that doesn’t change the fact that whenever you go to the gym and pick up a dumbbell, you’re renting someone’s property. And yes, all weights do wear down over time, even the large metal barbells that seem indestructible. Just as you were taught to respect other kids’ toys in school, so it goes in the gym.

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3. Mind your business

The gym can be an intimidating place all on its own, so the very last thing a novice lifter needs is a seasoned veteran providing unsolicited and questionable advice. Only trainers should be dishing out any sort of fitness advice in the weight room. However, there is one exception – when someone is about to injure themselves or injure another person. For example, if a novice lifter is about to attempt a PR on the deadlift and they are rounding their back like they are still working on their computer. In a case like this, bruising their ego sure beats the possible alternative – a herniated disc.

4. Don’t drop the weights

When you drop a pair of dumbbells in the gym after your set, those of us on the far end of the gym are thinking one of two things. Either that you don’t respect the weights (see rule #2) or that you aren’t strong enough to set down a weight that you just lifted! But don’t get me wrong, there are times when it’s perfectly OK to drop a weight. In Olympic weightlifting – with the rubber “bumper plates” – it’s perfectly OK to drop the weights on the ground. After all, when you lift something very heavy over your noggin the safest way to get said weight down is by dropping it. But even then, good etiquette demands that you only let the bar bounce once. Another notable exception is when you’re using a barbell to deadlift. During the eccentric part of the exercise – when you’re setting the weight back down – during the last phase of the movement you are putting your lumbar spine under a whole lot of stress. Therefore, it’s better to let the bar just “fall” a little bit versus trying to control it. Both of the above exceptions, however, are a far cry from dropping those dumbbells and letting them roll over your neighbor’s foot while they are trying to focus on their own exercise.

5. Lay down your yoga mat with care

Have you ever been lying on your yoga mat just minding your own business when out of nowhere someone walks up and throws out their yoga mat like it’s a bed sheet right next to you? If you have, then you’re well aware of the hurricane of floor debris that’s heading your way. Taking a little extra care when setting down your mat will help keep your smiling yoga neighbors, well, smiling.

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6. Re-rack the weights

If you’re strong enough to lift the weight in the first place then you’re strong enough to set it back down where you found it. Always re-rack the weights for the next person, and keep the gym organized.

7. It’s not polite to stare

OK fellas, yes, there are good looking women in the gym. Let’s all do them a favor and not stare at them while they’re exercising. And as I have been witness to, most women in the gym are working out harder and more effectively than most men. So if anything, guys need to do a little less gawking and a little more training.

8. Don’t interrupt during a set

I would be very happy to tell you that I have 2 sets left on the squat rack, but not when I’m in the middle of a set! Interrupting someone who is in the middle of an exercise is not only rude, but dangerous. Distracting someone during a technical lift could cause an injury, and even worse, make them lose count!

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9. Wipe off the bench

This one should be obvious. Yes, we all sweat in the gym, but that doesn’t mean I need to lie down on a nice sweat-coated bench after you walked away without wiping it down. You may not rid the surface of any and all viruses, but it’s still good practice. It’s just like brushing your teeth and buckling your seat belt – it should be such a habit that you don’t even need to remember to do it.

10. Keep your phone in your locker

Unless you’re using your phone to listen to music, ditch it! You have plenty of time to talk on the phone during the day and if anything, the gym should be your daily escape from the world. Social media and email can wait.

11. Leave your ego at the door!

This rule is the most important of them all. We all come from different backgrounds. You may be Ironman competitors, powerlifters, treadmill walkers or yogis. You may be very fit or not so fit. Maybe you’re a little overweight and you mustered up the courage to walk into the gym and try turning your life around. Regardless, when we pass through the doors of a gym, we are all the same. We really are. Because we’re all trying to better ourselves and be healthy and happy individuals. So, here’s a little homework for you. Next time you go to the gym, say something motivational to another person. It doesn’t matter who they are or what they’re doing, just say something nice. A simple “nice work” can go a long ways to inspire someone to come back to the gym tomorrow. Happy lifting everyone.

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Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pixabay.com

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Last Updated on August 20, 2019

How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life.

Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affect your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality. (And here’s Why Your Perception Is Your Reality.)

I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive and just a general waste of energy.

You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Become the master of your mind.

When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

I currently have few thoughts that are not of my own choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in charge of your thoughts. If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create the most unhealthy and unproductive thoughts:

1. The Inner Critic

This is your constant abuser who is often a conglomeration of:

  • Other people’s words; many times your parents.
  • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples expectations.
  • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media.
  • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

The Inner Critic is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance and lack of self-love.

Why else would this person abuse you? And since this person is actually you– why else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

2. The Worrier

This person lives in the future; in the world of “what ifs.”

The Worrier is motivated by fear which is often irrational and with no basis for it. Occasionally, this person is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

3. The Reactor or Trouble-Maker

This is the one that triggers anger, frustration and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

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This person can be set off by words or feelings, and can even be set off by sounds and smells.

The Reactor has no real motivation and has poor impulse control and is run by past programming that no longer serves you, if it ever did.

4. The Sleep Depriver

This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

The Sleep Depriver’s motivation can be:

  • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
  • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
  • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity and generalized anxiety
  • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

How can you control these squatters?

How to Master Your Mind

You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You must pay attention to your thoughts so you can identify “who” is running the show; this will determine which technique you will want to use.

Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

There are two ways to control your thoughts:

  • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
  • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

This second option is what is known as peace of mind!

The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go to” thoughts in the applicable situations.

Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier; and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

For the Inner Critic

When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

You can also have a dialogue with yourself with the intention of discrediting the ‘voice’ that created the thought, if you know whose voice it is:

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“Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready. This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

  • They rile up the Worrier.
  • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
  • They are often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
  • They are a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
  • They are the destroyer of self-esteem. They convince you that you’re not worthy. They’re a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get them out!

Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

Replace them with your new best friends who support, encourage, and enhance your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

For the Worrier

Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind and creates anxiety in the body.

You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tense

Use the above stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

“Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense; both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

Now take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like!

Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

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For example:

If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

“I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place. Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

“Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

For the Trouble-Maker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers; but until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain:

  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure; surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tension

I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds; just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

Breathe in through your nose:

  • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
  • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
  • Focus on your belly rising.

Breathe out through your nose:

  • Feel your lungs emptying.
  • Focus on your belly falling.
  • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize.

Now you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior.

One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting, or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

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Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

For the Sleep Depriver

(They’re made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

  1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
  2. Then I came up with replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and I choose quiet.

From the first time I tried this method I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (Closed, of course!). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

You can also use this technique any time you want to:

  • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon.
  • Shut down your thinking.
  • Calm your feelings.
  • Simply focus on the present moment. 

The Bottom Line

Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or for destructive purposes.

You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. The choice is yours!

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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