The gym is a unique environment that attracts an assortment of characters, and with January here, you’re going to have a combination of newbies and regulars occupying a limited amount of space. Not everyone is able to afford a private home gym like Mark Wahlberg or a mobile truck trailer like The Rock.

The reality is that big commercial gyms are the most convenient place to train for the majority. Whether you are training for a fitness competition, or simply want to look “respectable” on the beach, we have to share this space for a portion of our day with strangers. We need to find a way to get along, and this is where gym etiquette comes in. Some of the following rules you may have heard before, others may seem like basic common sense, but when you spend as much time in the gym as I do, you’ll be amazed at the bounds of human selfishness.

1. Bring a Towel

You’ve heard this one before, but it’s worth repeating. There’s nothing wrong with sweating, after all, you’re in the gym. But please wipe down equipment when you’re done. Do I really need to explain why?

2. Rack Your Weights

You can leg press eight 20kg plates on each side, that is impressive. What’s even more impressive? Returning all sixteen plates to the weight rack once you’re done. And please do not mix the weights, otherwise, you’ll cause my OCD to go into overdrive. Do not put a 20kg plate on the same rack as a 5kg plate. Likewise on the dumbbell rack, return the dumbbell to the appropriate space, not where you feel like dumping it. Dumbbells left lying around are a serious tripping hazard. Treasure hunts are fun, but not in the gym, and not for weights.

3. Cellphones

I get it, it’s 2018. Cellphones are an extension of our DNA. You’ve got the all-important playlist on your phone. Right? However, the gym is not the place to catch up on your Whatsapp conversations. If you’re at the gym just for the free Wifi, then fair enough. Relax in the reception area, update your apps, view videos on YouTube, or post on Instagram. #fitfam. But don’t occupy equipment from members who are actually there to train. #gymlife

4. CrossFit

I can already see CrossFitters rolling their eyes, but this isn’t a knock against CrossFit or CrossFitters. Commercial gyms are not made for CrossFit type exercises, or WODs(Workout of the Day). If you want to train in CrossFit, the logical option is to join a CrossFit box. A box has the appropriate equipment, qualified coaches, ample space, and you are allowed to take off your t-shirt or vest. Anyway, wouldn’t you rather train amongst like-minded people?

5. Multiple Stations

I’ve seen a guy place a towel on a piece of equipment, place his hoodie on another piece of equipment, and his water bottle on a third station. And this was during peak time in the evening. True story. It is possible to complete a circuit without occupying multiple stations. For example, bench press, goblet squat, dumbbell curl, and sit-ups can be done on a single station. If you’re desperate to do a multiple station workout, either try the super circuit or train on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon when the gym is near empty.

6. Blocking the Dumbbell Rack

Have you ever seen the stickers on the back of cars, the ones for cyclists, advocating distance of 1.5m? The same applies to the dumbbell rack. Get your weights, and move away. It’s frustrating when you return your weights and there’s someone standing in the way doing biceps curls. If you insist on finishing out your set before moving, then your toes are fair game. Just kidding. Or am I?

7. Couples

We are happy for you for finding the love of your life, we really are. And the couple that trains together stays together, or something like that. It is however not necessary to hug and kiss between every set. Or make the rest of us feel as though we are on a set of a soft core porn movie.

8. Pickup Artist

Time and time again, I see female members complain to the club manager that some guy won’t leave her alone. The gym is not the appropriate platform to organise a hookup. You will get a reputation as the creeper. If you disagree with this point, then I suggest you invest some money into opening your own gym that has members who are just looking for a hookup. But I want 10%, it is my idea.

9. Giving Unsolicited Advice

Bottom line, no one likes being told what to do. There’s a good chance the person will nod at you’re saying, and then disregard everything you just said. Leave this to the Personal Trainers.

10. Gym Bags

Another tripping hazard. Seriously, what’s in your bag that you feel the need to carry it around the gym. Keep your bag in a locker, and if you don’t trust the lockers, leave your bag in your car. Accessories that you need for your workout should fit into your pockets (guys definitely should be wearing pants with pockets), other than your water bottle and towel, which you can carry.

11. Hogging Equipment

Spending 45 minutes at the squat rack does not make you hardcore, it makes you selfish. Just because you’ve seen a video of Hafthor Bjornsson a.k.a The Mountain complete 12 sets deadlifts, it doesn’t mean you can either. First, he trains at his private gym, meaning he can do whatever he wants. Second, he is 6ft9, weighs 180kg, which definitely means he can do whatever he wants.

Sizwe Luthayi (Personal Trainer | Planet Fitness Morningside)

If you have any questions for me on training programmes or nutrition, please get in contact. Detail below.

Cellphone: 0839942748


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Twitter: @SizweLuthayi

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