The new year always brings new clients to the gym. Some are already well into their fitness lifestyles. Others are just beginning their journey to becoming healthier versions of themselves. Either way, many will join a gym or fitness club this year. This is a guideline of sorts to prevent you from becoming "that guy" or "that girl" at the gym. If you follow these rules of etiquette, you will not only seem to know what you are doing, you will not draw undue attention to yourself or annoy other paying members. No one wants to be "that guy," so learn from the examples of some of my not so favorite members of all time.
So you decided that five years off and 50 pounds more have not complimented you well and you joined a gym. Maybe you are breaking out some workout clothes from that long ago, or longer. You may want to reconsider that one. One of the biggest complaints I get about both men and women is regarding gym attire. My suggestions are pretty simple: it should fit, you shouldn't have to cram, and you shouldn't be showing parts of your body that normally don't see the sun shine. That goes for plumber's cracks as well as cleavage. While it is okay to dress confidently, you shouldn't be full on exposing yourself to the masses. Secondly, tight or ill-fitting clothing is going to make your workout miserable. So try to find something that covers you up but is also loose and pliable enough to not prohibit you from performing exercises. You should also not wear the shoes you had on out in the slush, snow, mud, etc. That can damage equipment and make the managers/owners really, really not like you. I also recommend a moisture wicking material because...
Face it, you are at the gym to workout. You will probably sweat. That is a good thing. It means you are burning calories and doing work. However, finding a pool of sweat on a bench after someone else gets finished is a one-way ticket to gross out city. In addition, you know your body, so you know if you are a sweat-er. I am. There's nothing wrong with it. However, you should be courteous to other members and make sure to wipe down equipment after you are finished using it. In addition if you are a heavy sweat-er, make sure you either bring a towel with you or, if your club provides them, use it! I promise your fellow members will be grateful, and you won't have an oil-slick trail following you everywhere.
The last, big pet peeve most people have is with grunting, loud noises, and swearing. I'm not going to lie, sometimes you are going to grunt if you lift. Sometimes a weight might bang, and an f-bomb can be dropped. If there's no one around or your club condones this behavior (every gym isn't an LA Fitness, there are still some "lifting" gyms around that are no frills), that's OK. But generally many types of gym client doesn't like this kind of behavior. And while grandma may only be doing sets of 12 with 5-pound weights, just because you did a 350 pound deadlift does not mean that you pay more for your membership than she does. Every club is going to be different, and some may be more acceptable of loud noises associated with working out. However, just be courteous of others. Remember that from 1st grade? Do unto others...
So don't be "that guy" or "that girl". Follow these simple guidelines, plus the rules that are posted in you club, and you will fit right in!
Ryan Barnhart, MS, PES, is a certified Performance Enhancement
and Injury Prevention Specialist through the National Academy of Sports
Medicine (NASM). He also holds a master's degree in exercise science, as
well as a bachelor of sport management, both from California University
of Pennsylvania. Ryan has worked with numerous collegiate and amateur
athletes across many different fields. Ryan also has had the opportunity
to work with several professional athletes. Recently he has worked with
amateur and professional athletes within the emerging sport of Mixed
Ryan is currently the director of fitness at a 700+ member gym near Pittsburgh, PA. He enjoys working with weekend warriors, athletes, and everyone in between. You can contact Ryan at firstname.lastname@example.org.