The gym is one of those places that are really intimidating to enter because of all the new space and equipment that you haven’t tried before. But what usually stops people is the fear that they might not fit in. We imagine and obsess over the most embarrassing thing that can happen to us while new at the gym and this keeps us from entering or participating fully in gym activities.
If you think about it, what gets you through any environment is basic courtesy and common sense; In the gym setting, make sure to apply those to these 5 cardinal rules:
1. Clean as you go.
- Keep your personal things organized and off the benches or the floor to avoid others from tripping over your stuff. Secure them in lockers and take them away when you leave – including all trash.
- Do not leave open beverage containers just anywhere cause no matter how careful you are, someone else may cause its spillage. If this happens, clean it up.
- Always wipe down all equipment – machines, benches, bars, and mats – and return them to the proper place after use. Some gyms provide sanitizing sprays and rags for wiping down equipment. It is nobody else’s job to follow everyone around to clean and return equipment they have finished using.
2. Respect other people’s space.
- Eat your meals and snacks, take calls, and have your longer chats outside the gym facility. Some gyms provide lounges for you to hang out in, while other gyms prefer that you only stay briefly after your workout.
- Respect other people who are watching television or listening to music. Other gyms allow members to plug in their music, but it is best to bring your headphones to enjoy your personal preferences.
- Give people their personal space. Avoid staring and observe the area before setting up your workout spot as someone might already be using it.
3. Learn to share equipment.
- Wait patiently while other people do their sets. If you need specific equipment and someone else is using it, you may politely ask how many sets they have left but don’t pressure anyone by standing too close and watching them like a hawk.
- Offer other people to “work in with you” if they want to use the equipment too. If you’re comfortable with it, offer another person to work in intervals with you when you rest in between sets. Get in and out – don’t sit on the equipment forever.
- Use the cardio equipment within reason on peak hours. A lot of people start and end their workout with cardio so be considerate by not doing long periods of cardio during peak hours if there aren’t any cardio machines open.
4. Observe next-level hygiene.
- Bring a towel and a change of clothes and make sure to deal with any body odors properly. Avoid masking any smell with perfume as this usually makes it worse.
- Leave the bathroom as you found them. Keep grooming activities such as shaving or putting on makeup at your home; It can leave the bathroom a mess for everyone else after you.
- Avoid smoking anywhere in the gym. It is pretty straightforward that the gym is a place where people go to be fit and healthy. It’s common sense to not smoke within or anywhere near the entrances.
5. Focus on your goals.
- Focus on your own goals and be proactive when it comes to your own progress. Take a baseline assessment of your body size, skill, and strength so that you can learn more about your body and what works best for you.
- Be honest with yourself and approach an instructor if you need assistance with anything. In the gym, it is better to ask and be safe, than to be overconfident and wrong – and injured.
- Be sensitive about approaching people who are busy working out – especially at those times when you feel lazy about working out. You might have spoken to them before, but if they are busy at the moment it may not be a good time to mingle cause they need to focus too.
Everyone can fit in within the gym setting as long as they know basic discipline and are polite to other members. If you are cool enough to clean as you go, respect everyone’s personal space, and have good hygiene, then you are ready to be part of the gym community.
Lastly, don’t be shy about being a newbie! Ask around, do your research, and experiment early on. This gives you a good foundation to build on so that you can progress faster in the long haul.