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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 September 20, 2018

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

1. Breathe

The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

  • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
  • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
  • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

2. Loosen up

After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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3. Chew slowly

Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

4. Let go

Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

It’s not. Promise.

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Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

5. Enjoy the journey

Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

6. Look at the big picture

The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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Will this matter to me…

  • Next week?
  • Next month?
  • Next year?
  • In 10 years?

Hint: No, it won’t.

I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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8. Practice patience every day

Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

  • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
  • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
  • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

Final thoughts

Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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