So you're thinking about going to the gym and wondering how to get started. Maybe you've read our tips for gym newbies here and here. But you might still be feeling a bit daunted by the whole social context. Fear not, our handy little guide to gym etiquette is here to give you the confidence you need.
We all like to know how to behave in a given social situation. It makes us feel confident and at ease to know what the conventions are. The gym is no exception. Sure, certain behaviours that would be entirely inappropriate in polite society are perfectly acceptable – think profuse sweating, grunting and groaning and even nudity – but that doesn't mean that anything goes.
We've distilled the complex social world of the gym into just three golden rules for good behaviour:
Yes, it's as simple as the first ground rule of pre-school: we'll all get along much better if we share nicely. Especially during peak times, try to be aware that you're not the only person wanting to use the equipment. Don't spend too long on any one machine, NEVER linger on a bike or treadmill just chatting or staring into space, and don't obstruct other people's way as they move between machines.
Always, always, ALWAYS carry a towel with you to wipe down the equipment and yourself. Sweating per se is entirely acceptable, a sign that you're working hard. Leaving saddles and handlebars dripping with the results of your efforts is a no-no.
Many aspects of gym etiquette boil down to basic good manners. Loud conversations on your mobile, irritating noise levels from your MP3 player and inappropriate clothing are no more acceptable at the gym than anywhere else.
A bit of politeness goes a long way. Share the gym love!
just spotted another good one - turn the MP3 down. If people 'outside' can hear it then you can be assured you are damaging your hearing, as well as being annoying. Rule for life as well as the gym.
They should definitely have signs up so that new people know the 'rules'.
I'll add another one - shower hogging. Quick wash and soap, rinse, done. There are people waiting and the gym shower is NOT the place for the full beauty routine!
looks like the sweat-removal is the big one! Perhaps it is time to resurrect a version of the signs that we all remember from swimming pools?
I must admit my first gym visits were full of social faux pas. I probably hogged the machines too much, and I certainly didn't think to wipe them down. But then I was in my early twenties, and I know better now. But no one told me - and I had never been to a gym before. It's not obvious to everyone and doesn't make you a bad person - just needs a nice big poster on the wall!
Or maybe print the article out in the form of a flyer and hand it out to offenders?!
A sad reflection on our society, perhaps, but anyone who goes to the gym regularly will know that some people do need the basics spelled out for them! Maybe I could print this article out and post it surreptitiously on every sweat-dripping machine at my gym...
Most of this is just basic good manners. It's not specialist gym etiquette. What a sad indictment on this day and age that it needs spelling out at all.
How could anyone leave a machine and not wipe it? It's completely unhygienic.
The worst is getting to a machine and finding it all sweaty. Disgusting!