Proper Gym and Group Fitness Etiquette

Every gym is a vibrant community. It features people of all shapes, sizes, personalities and work ethics. But we all have one thing in common: We come in to get a workout, and have some fun while burning some calories.

As is the case in any sport, group fitness and the gym have certain “etiquette” that I believe people should follow, just like on the golf course, for example. That being said, here are my Ten Commandments of proper “etiquette” on the gym floor or in the group exercise room.

1. Thou shall rack their weights. This one should be at the top of the list for every gym in the world. Every facility has signs plastered all over the walls saying, put your weights away once you’re done with them. But does everyone follow this rule? Of course not. What really grinds my gears is when folks leave heavy plates, i.e. 45- and 100-pounders on machines after they’re done. That is an easy way for somebody to get hurt, trying to get those suckers off before their own sets. C’mon peeps, if you’re strong enough to lift the weights, you’re strong enough to put them away.

2. Thou shall not loiter. I see this a lot during high-traffic times while I’m training: Folks who won’t let other members “work in” between sets. Working in is defined as letting another member have a turn at the squat rack in between sets during a recovery. Another example: If you’re doing a set of incline dumbbell presses, don’t sit on the bench between sets. While you’re recovering, let somebody else get their work in.

3. Thou shall not hold up the class. I’ve heard many a BodyPump instructor harp about this: That one person dashing into class during, or after, the warmup track and scrambling to set up their benchtop. People want to get their workout in and get home and enjoy the rest of their evening, so we don’t want to hold people up, now do we? I’ve seen people depart before the cooldown – which I have no problem with, I’ve done it myself once in a while – but if you want the full affect of the workout, show up on time!! No, that doesn’t mean when I’m introducing squats or when we’re halfway through the warmup track!

4. Thou shall not be a “weight hog.” One of the most popular phrases I’ve encountered as a journalist is “nobody likes a mic hog.” Well, in BodyPump, nobody likes a “plate hog” either. If the group ex room is filled with every barbell being used – such is the case at launches – plates are going to be at a premium, so don’t be that guy snatching all the heavy plates. Sharing is for caring!

5. Thou shall wipe the cardio equipment. This one is self-explanatory. If you’re going to run on the treadmill for a half-hour, chances are sweat is going to drip onto it. I’ve found that the cardio equipment is the most used in a gym, so when you’re done, grab a towel and wipe it. Chances are, the treadmill or stairmaster you’re done using won’t be free for long.

6. Thou shall not coach on the floor.  Any weightlifter hates this: One guy telling another how to do his workout. A simple solution: Let people do their thing, and don’t interfere, even if you’re an instructor.

7. Thou shall treat others with respect. Yes, the Golden Rule applies to group fitness and the gym floor. Treat others the way you’d want to be treated. If there is a new person in BodyPump, don’t gossip to other members if their form is a little shaky. We were all newbies once! Or, if someone in the weight room is going for a PR on the bench press, offer to give them a spot.

8. Thou shall not be texting. This ties into the loitering on machines thing, but even if you have an Iphone, don’t be sitting on a bench and texting for five minutes between sets. The only exception is changing a song on your Ipod, but that takes 5 seconds. An example: At Les Mills trainings, if you’re phone goes off – even if its on vibrate – it’s 20 pushups, no matter what.

9. Thou shall be properly attired. This is real simple. Don’t come dressed for the gym dressed like you’re going to the club. A big no-no once the weather warms up: NEVER wear flip-flops on the gym floor. All it takes is somebody dropping a dumbbell on your feet, and you’ve got yourself a hospital visit.

10. Thou shall come prepared. This one can be said for instructors. If you’re teaching a class, come prepared! I know the members tell us that they don’t notice if we make a choreography mistake, but if Susan Renata was on that floor and noticed it, then we’d be in for it after class, now would we! That said, don’t sprint into the room five minutes before you take the stage and scramble to set up. My rule of thumb is be there 45 minutes to an hour before class time.

Ryan McLaughlin

About Ryan McLaughlin

BDN sports reporter Ryan McLaughlin grew up in Brewer and is a lifelong fan of the New England Patriots, Boston Red Sox, Boston Celtics and Boston Bruins. In "The Boston Blitz" he'll be sharing his perspective with BDN readers about what's happening on the Boston professional sports scene.