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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 February 18, 2019

13 Tips to Face Your Fears, Grow with It and Enjoy the Ride

13 Tips to Face Your Fears, Grow with It and Enjoy the Ride

Fear. I spend my life talking about fear — fighting fears, fixing fears and understanding fears. And yet I doubt I get 10 calls a year from people saying “Mandie can you help me fix my fear?”

Why is this so critically important to you?

The realization for me is that fear is not the fundamental driving force in your life it’s what regardless of whether I’m talking to a doctor, a teacher, a CEO’s, a senior citizens or teenager – every single one of those conversations has a direct correlation with your world.

Fear can range from the overwhelming desire to look away or stop in your tracks to literally fleeing your country and the life you knew. In this article, I will share you with 13 tips to face your fears and enjoy the ride.

1. Know That Fear Is Real, but Can Be Overcome

Right now around the world people are facing fear — real fear. Fear that I pray my children and I will never experience. Does that lessen my fears or your fears in your relativity safe 21st century life?

When I look at the world we all live in, I find that fear like so many other emotions can mean so many different things to so many different people:

  • The child who has to be physically dragged to their first day of school.
  • The man facing the judge.
  • The woman with her hand poised over the buttons over her phone because she has to walk down a dark corridor late at night alone.
  • The man as the surgeon says “count backwards from 10 Mr Smith.”
  • The woman that’s told “We are sorry, we can’t help you.”
  • The man that faces the empty circle of a gun and prays for his very existence.

These and a million more (Portrayed in every kind of movie, book or song you could imagine) are what make us human. We face fear and somehow move forward or are stopped in our tracks.

Like the rabbit in the headlights of the car that veers off through the field away from the tyres of the car or stays still praying for salvation. Like someone will save them. Sound familiar?

Fear is huge. Fear is everywhere and yet fear can be overcome, controlled and can even be a power for good.

2. Accept Your Fear

Firstly if you aren’t facing the barrel of the gun, atrocities that make the news or impeding death, that’s a good start. However it doesn’t mean your fear is any less real.

We are quick to say “I can’t moan, my life is not as bad as X.” While in theory, that’s honorable your appreciation of Mr. or Mrs. X’s horrific life won’t change anything directly. So accept your fear is relative to you.

And here’s what can be done.

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3. Get Some Perspective

I found myself asking anyone that would answer “what is your worst fear”. The answer that intrigued me the most came from my daughter (15 years old and she usually has a copy of Fight the Fear – my book – in her school bag so she can help someone else be as positive and confident as her. No matter what life throws up.)

And her fear, surprised me — heights. I pointed out that we live in a sprawling bungalow (one storey) and the highest she goes is two storeys’ at school! She laughed but added, fear isn’t like that Mum. I know it’s not a real fear, but it’s like when you stand on a chair and feel unsafe.

That girl will go far. Because she truly gets fear.

We know something is scary and yet we still do it. Why? Because we have a perspective to the fear. When you lose perspective, it can feel too big, and too scary.

So look around you to get some perspective on your fear:

  • Are you really at risk?
  • Will this kill you?
  • Which leads us on to..
  • If the worse was to happen what would it be?

4. Hold a Hand

As a coach, it is my job to holds someone’s metaphorical hand and help them face a fear.

Like the child petrified of the thunder storm or the teen that can’t get back in a car again after failing their test, your job as a parent is to reassure, encourage, enable and motivate someone to face something that ideally they never would choose to again.

We know many of our fears aren’t real. However, it is only when someone guides us with love, respect, lack of judgement and safety are we able to get through fear. And trust me, you can get through your fears. I’ve seen it so many times.

Ask yourself:

  • If the worse were to happen, what would that be?
  • Could that really happen?
  • If the worse did happen, how would you recover?
  • If the worse were to happen, what would you need to do next?

By seeing fear as not the end destination but part of being human, you can see through it’s wily evil ways and move forward.

5. Know Whose Hand You Hold Either Physically or Emotionally

This helps with fears for the rest of your life.

Think of someone you can always rely on (and ideally you won’t just answer yourself because that adds a lot of pressure to your existence!) And you will find that you’ve already found a way to get through fear.

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The beauty of this is that it means that fear becomes part of life not something to be feared and shied away from.

It means you know you can turn to your friend, partner, colleague, parent, sibling and say “Right I need to deal with this, and I’m going to need you to help me.”

For one moment, think about it from the other person’s view point. When we get to help other people we feel valued, loved, respected and lots of other positive emotions and we get a good dose of positive chemicals setting off in our bodies too.

Your fear, and your determination to fight it, helped someone else too. Now that’s cool right?

6. Understand That There Are Some Things Fear Will Never Touch

I like to find role models in life — people who have faced heroism, history changing moments, war, atrocities, miracles, life saving inventions.

Not everyone was looking for greatness, however they all found it. And one of my favourite books to date is written about Alistair Urquhart, the forgotten highlander. If this doesn’t get turned into a film in the future, then no man’s story is likely to.

Alistair went through the most horrific experiences in the 2nd world war. If you think of one of the awful things that happened back then in our world, Alistair went through at least 3 of them! Asked afterwards how did you cope? He talked about how whatever they did to his body, no matter how they starved, tortured, threatened or mocked him, they couldn’t have his mind. In his mind he was free.

Of all the people’s voices I’ve heard in my head over the years, this is one of those statements that reminds me anything is possible if you have faith and hope.

Look for the things in life that fear can’t touch. They will create confidence and faith for the future, whatever you face. And they will give you a sense of why being you is awesome.

Of all the billions of people on this planet, no one will have an answer identical to yours!

7. Process Your Fears to Carry on with Life

Being brave is not about sticking your chest out and smiling regardless of what hell you endure. It is about finding a way to emotionally process your fears to be able to keep going.

I have a tool kit of things I can rely on – tools, strategies, techniques. They include people to hug or talk to, music. hobbies, walks on the beach and even my favourite food. It sounds mad but at the times where I have questioned “how will I get through this?” I’ve found immense joy in doing the most unlikely of thing that makes me smile.

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It may be a short lived moment of happiness. However, it reminded that nothing stays the same and I can find away.

One client told me that it was crazy when it felt like their world was falling around their ears to run a bath to the brim (you don’t waste water) get the best bath oils, light too many candles, lock the door and drink a glass of bubbly (champagne is only for special occasions.)

Did that moment fix the disaster that my clients life felt? No, however it gave them a moment of calm and the brain is far quicker to find solutions, resolve and motivation to keep going when you do that.

It may feel like madness to do something you love, however it can be a powerful way to help you find solutions to the fears you face in life.

8. Assume the Worse

If you read the statement from the client above. Notice how they assumed it was wrong to fill the bath up to the top? How bubbly is only for special occasions?

Think how naughty they felt to be doing something that was not allowed?

  • Think about what age it may have made them feel?
  • Think about how they feel about champagne?
  • What special moments it’s been a part of in their lives?

And you can see how the assumptions they made about their “right” to have these things was not healthy.

When I drag the assumptions out of people’s words for them to see, they are often struck by how negative the words make them feel.

Don’t assume your words aren’t impacting on you. You can go through fear and actually enjoy the ride when you take the time to understand how you are letting words get to you.

9. Take a Fear That Feels Insurmountable Right Now.

If you were to repeat it to me out loud, what would you say?

Would you have blame on yourself in there? Would you assume others can do it and it’s just you? Would you feel small, unsuccessful, useless, unworthy?

Usually, when you do this exercise, you are able to spot the untruths that run wild in your head convincing you that you are doomed. And rarely when we are faced with our assumptions is there is a lot of evidence to them.

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10. You Are Not Defined by Your Fear

One fear does not define your life – be mindful of that. It is likely to lead you to thinking of all the times you’ve succeeded and bring a moment of calm, confidence and faith back to you.

11. Go with Fear

When you learn to go with fear, you could find yourself actually having fun, no seriously – having fun.

I have a few amazing clients I’m working with right now who would describe themselves as life long worriers, or pessimists. In the past that has served them well, enabling them to keep safe, steer clear of risks and even develop strategies in the event of disasters. However, now they find it’s becoming hard to break the cycle and they really want to because it’s holding them back.

Notice how they’ve found their hidden fears and want to face them?

One client said “I knew this was going to be tough, and I knew I couldn’t fight it alone and I knew you would be the one to help me.” Before I sat an incredibly successful, confident, capable business owner with a family and a social life to die for.

However, I’ve learned that the most successful looking lives can hide things that impact on life, success, love, happiness and business.

We didn’t start with the fear that they felt was holding them back, we broke the fear down, and found lots of little obstacles that had been deemed as “life” and “unchangeable” and “that’s just the way it is” by developing awareness to the little steps on the road to their obstacles to happiness and success they were able to tackle them in a different way.

12. Discover Great Skills in Your Scary Moments

And in that clients words “I came here to work with you to grow my company, and my own personal skills. I didn’t expect to get the children to be cleaning up after themselves and my partner being more attentive! It all feels a little magic.”

The moral is that out of the scariest of moments, we can find great skills we didn’t know we had. Find better, healthier, happier ways to live and find ways to enjoy life more. (And have a bit of magic!)

What a great place to be in ready for the next fear that thinks it’s going to get in the way of you, right?

13. Own Your Fear

Think back over these tips and come up with at least one example for each one. Write them down. Put them on your phone. Turn them into a piece of art. Turn them into a poem. Frame them. Go for a fast walk across the fields, beach, down town and repeat these things in your head to the sound of your feet on the ground.

We rarely take the time to appreciate how far we have come, how much we can achieve or what we are capable of – by really owning the tips in this article you will have given your brain a big fat dose of “Damn right I can do this!” and the motivation and accountability to say “Let’s find a way” through any fear.

You can’t help but feel good when you see that can you? And fear doesn’t stand a chance, does it?

More Resources About Fighting Fear

Featured photo credit: Ben White via unsplash.com

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