weight lifting in gym etiquette

If you are new to the gym environment this post is probably worth a quick read. If you go regularly to the gym there are about 50% of you who need to read this too!

  1. The most reported gym etiquette fail by gym owners and staff is that of the ‘Untidy lifter’ – the one who does not place all the weights back onto the racks and stands after he/she finishes with them. Don’t be this person, its rude, thoughtless to staff and other gym users and can be enough to deter others from using a machine if you are a strong person, as less strong gym members can sometimes have a workout unloading a machine you left fully stacked with 20kg discs!
  1. ‘Working in’ – my personal hatred and the most misunderstood rule of gym etiquette. It came about because gyms usually have very busy periods between 6-8pm where they cannot commercially justify fitting enough gym equipment to service all members. To avoid dead time in a session weight lifters decided on an approach where you ask the person using the machine if you can work in with them. This means that during their rest you lift and vice versa. Hypothetically this works well in a ‘lifting’ focused gym with 2 people lifting a similar weight, training at about the same pace, performing simple sets (i.e. – a lift followed by a rest period then a lift and a rest etc…). In reality you often see young hench guys butting into smaller guys or gals sets in a ‘health club’ type gym. They need to change the weight every time they want to lift, getting in the way of the flow of the less strong person and eventually pushing the less strong person away through embarrassment or because that person cant be bothered with all the fiddling about and has lost their focus.

There really isn’t any excuse for this, the gym is a place for everyone and this working in approach needs to be handled with an etiquette, here’s how to do it right: The first thing to ascertain is: ‘is there anything else I can do that will replicate that lift instead?’ if the answer is no and you absolutely need that piece of kit ask yourself this ‘ how is the person on it currently using it?’ if the answer is as a simple set and in-between they are staring into space or poking their phone then things are looking good, but if they are super setting or timing themselves or using the kit for a different exercise in a rest period or any number of other types of protocols that involve precise timing they need to get back onto that piece of kit then respect that and WAIT.

Next, check what weight they are lifting, if the weight is very different to yours then WAIT but if you think you could work in without too much faffing changing weights, or none at all then maybe it could work.

So if at this stage all is looking good the next move would be to stay away from them until they have a rest, do not float around close to them staring at them (see next point), simply ask them if they would mind if you worked in. Allow them the opportunity to refuse you.

And then work in quietly without disturbing their flow, make eye contact, perhaps smile or say ‘yours’ every time you put the bar down so they know you are finished.

  1. ‘Waiting’ – for kit is an art. Obviously if there are a few people who need the kit after the current user is finished, you will need to use it in the order you came to wait…..like a very British queue system! But you need to achieve this without putting off the person who is using it, so you must NOT circle him/her, hang around in the corner of their peripheral vision staring at them, or stand next to them or in front or behind them! You must wait (or better still find another exercise to do to fill the gap) patiently without making the user feel intimidated or like they must rush and without breaking their focus. If needed you can even say to the others who might be waiting to use it; “I am waiting for this piece of kit next”

I could write a lot more here, but I will keep this post short (ish) and continue in a second post…