My first time in a real gym was at the age of 17. At the time, gyms were very different. Men were typically hovering around the weightlifting equipment while women were on their cardio machines. People also didn't have their phones to take selfies with.
Today, I have my master's degree in exercise science and I own a martial arts academy and fitness facility with my husband. I’ve been lifting, swinging, and training in my gym for so long now that I haven’t actually been to a large corporate gym for more than a decade.
Recently, a large gym chain approached me to do some work for their kettlebell curriculum. For the first time in a very long time, I entered a big, multilevel gym — and my head began to spin.
As I headed to the large weight-machine-crowded floor, I was appalled by how much things have changed. Here are a few of the not-so-friendly things I saw people doing at the gym:
1. They hog machines.
When I was being educated on gym etiquette, this was the very first thing I was taught. If you're doing a four-set series of lat pull-downs and there’s a person standing at your side waiting, you MUST ask him or her “Want to rotate in?” Those are the key words that must be said in a crowded gym. Then you just do your set and stand up (after wiping down the seat) and wait for the person rotating in to do theirs.
2. They steal machines when they're still being used.
I was in my third set on the leg press, when I got up to add another weight plate and a guy jumped on to the machine (and no, he didn’t ask me to rotate in). He stayed on it for 15 minutes, lifting and texting.
I get it, we all live our lives in our own worlds, but in the gym you should be mindful and present — not a jerk.
3. They take selfies and text.
Have the respect for yourself, your workout, and those around you to unplug and tune in to your body. The same workout will never be as efficient or effective if you’re resting on your phone. And honestly, the sight of this distracts the rest of us and directly affects our training experience.
4. They blast music on their headphones.
So, thanks to some guy who was doing five sets of curls next to me, I had the Godsmack album stuck in my head. It's a simple thing —adjusting your volume — but it speaks volumes about you, too, especially if you are blasting your music into everyone's ears.
5. They take business calls on the floor.
No joke, I watched one guy sit on an adductor machine and negotiate a business deal. I learned that he is a real estate broker in New York City and that he had just sold a $2 million apartment in Williamsburg. Yep, all of that information, and all while some poor girl was waiting for him to get up so that she can sculpt her inner thighs too. If you can’t help it, just turn your phone off or leave it at home!
6. They "forget" to wipe down the machine.
You need to wipe your very sweaty body imprint off of the machine. No excuses.
7. They hit on people.
I don’t have much to say about this, except that training is training and dating is dating. I get the idea that you can meet someone at the gym, but do it after the workout. Slip a girl (or guy) a note with your number as you’re walking out; wait for her in the lounge. Do not tap her on her shoulder and wait for her to take off her headphones, put her weights down, and listen to you come up with some cheesy pick-up line.
8. They try to coach or offer free advice.
If I am doing a true high-pull or a hip thruster with a large barbell, men feel the need to tap me on the shoulder and either ask me what exercise that is and what it works or give me their advice about the motion.
Unless you are a trainer and I am asking you — don’t start an impromptu conversation. If you want to learn more about a motion — hire a trainer! And trust that if someone else feels like they need advice, they'll seek it out themselves.
9. They show too much skin.
Please take a good, long look in the mirror before you head out to the gym. If you're wearing shorts, do a few deadlifts and squat poses at home to make sure that everything is in place and nothing is falling out. The gym is a public place.
10. They don't know what they're doing.
I say this to my students and clients and I would also like to make a public announcement to the rest of the fitness community — don’t make stuff up! And if you aren't sure how to work out, execute proper exercises, or simply act in a gym, then invest in a trainer, even if it's for just a single session.