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Five Simple Steps of Gym Etiquette

  • Published
  • By Maj. Keith Vanderhoeven
  • U.S. Air Force's Central Analysis, Assessments and Lessons Learned Directorate

You just finished a 30-minute cardio session, your heart rate is up and you’re ready to tear up some weight training.  However, you notice someone on a piece of equipment you want to use and he is sitting there texting.  You decide to start somewhere else.  As you walk towards another piece of equipment you notice the equipment is loaded with plates and even more disturbing, you see a puddle of sweat on the equipment padding.  We all have experienced this at one time or another and it’s frustrating!  Therefore, let me share with you five simple things we can all do to improve gym etiquette.

  1. Sweat/Cleanliness: I think many would agree the most disturbing thing someone can experience in the gym is going to use a piece of equipment only to find it dowsed with sweat.  This disgusting, it’s unsanitary and inconsiderate.  Think about it, there are roughly 10,000 people at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar.  Most people use the fitness center on a regular basis. That’s a lot of people sweating on weight and cardio equipment day-in and day-out.  Therefore, if you even leave a T-shirt impression on a bench or finger prints on the cardio equipment, wipe it down and save us all from germs.  Besides, what’s worse…taking two seconds to clean up after yourself or getting sick from someone else’s germs?


  2. Reracking: If you are big and strong enough to load it, you’re big and strong enough to unload it.  Another annoying thing at any gym are people who load the bar or equipment with every plate in the gym, only to do one or two reps and walk away.  Leaving weight on equipment wastes time for the next person who has to unload the weights or search for them, it’s also a safety concern.  Whether you’re pushing 300-pounds or 30-pounds, take the time to unload and rerack the weights; this will save time for everyone and provide a safer training area.


  3. Sounds of effort: You can probably guess where I’m going with this one.  I understand it takes a lot of physical effort to improve your cardiovascular endurance or gain muscular size and strength, but don’t torture those around you by moaning and groaning to get there.  I was “one of those guys” who belted out loud grunts that turned every head in the gym and not in a good way.  But, as I have learned over the years, you don’t need to grunt like a gorilla during your last few reps or while attempting your personal best.  Actually, controlling your breathing during your training can be more advantageous than moaning and groaning.   The only thing moaning and groaning will get you is a label you don’t want.


  4. Social Event: Another thing that annoys a lot of people are individuals who treat the gym as one big social gathering.  I’m referring to those who choose to play with their cell phones, take 15-minute rest breaks, talk to their trainer partner till the cows come home or try to pick up their next date at the squat rack.  I understand the gym is an outlet for many people, but it’s also a very difficult outlet as many folks have limited time to squeeze in an exercise session.  Therefore, be considerate of everyone’s time, leave the cell phone in the gym bag, limit the rest periods, save the long talks with your partner for the walk to the chow hall and save the dating game for Facebook.


  5. Equipment Use: At AUAB there are a ton of options when it comes to exercise equipment.  However, it never fails when you want to use a certain machine and it’s taken.  Therefore, the simple answer is share the equipment.  Whether you are the one already using the equipment or the one wanting to use it, you’re going to take at least a 30-second rest between your sets, so why not let someone else work in with you?  You never know, you might learn something new or even make a new friend.  The way we handle and treat the equipment is also important.  I can bet we have all seen and heard that person in the gym who feels the need to drop barbells, dumbbells or smash the plates on the machines.  There is absolutely no reason for this other than trying to get everyone to look at you and the monstrosity of weight you “think” you’re lifting.  Not only are you perpetuating the stereotypical perception of a classic meathead, you are also causing undo wear and tear on the equipment.  Broken or damaged equipment affects everyone and due to our shrinking budgets we all need to take care of the equipment.

I’m pretty sure I’ve covered the topics everyone has experienced in a gym.  As I mentioned earlier, the gym is an outlet for many of us and keeping these five simple things regarding gym etiquette in the forefront of our minds will make this outlet enjoyable for everyone. 

Until next time, stay safe, eat healthy and train hard.