By Stephanie Joanne (@StefJoanne)
While the gym is by no means a country club, there is indeed a code of conduct all lifters must adhere to. Since this code is often unwritten, we’ve decided to put pen to paper and craft the commandments to live by during exercise — even if your gym doesn’t enforce them. And it all starts with playing nice with others.
1) Thou Shalt Not Claim Equipment As Your Own
When someone is using a machine and they are either taking a rest, taking a little stroll around the machine, or have purposefully left some personal belonging in the area of the machine as if to mark their territory, this is your fellow gym-goer saying, “I am still using this machine. If you use it, you will be messing up my gym flow, so please do not touch it until I have finished all of my sets.” Respect their intentions and do not swoop in. You can likely wait until you’re certain they’re finished, but if you’re in a real hurry to get home for whatever reason, just do the right thing and ask the almighty question: “Excuse me, how many sets do you have left to go?” They’ll get the hint that someone’s waiting, and may even suggest you work in. As with most things in life, it’s better if you embrace the Canadian in you and strive for a “no, you go!” mentality over a “finders keepers!” one.
2) Thou Shalt Not Get Distracted By Technology
One of the things you’re sure to notice at the gym is how many people are using (read: misusing) their devices. Don’t be one of them. Between cell phones, TVs, iPods, smart-watches, tablets, and earbuds, we’re more electronically reliant than ever before. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing — especially if you’re at the gym. It’s probably best you don’t attempt some awkward ballet of gadget wrangling while sitting on the bench, because there’s a better than decent chance that other people are waiting to use it. Simply put: lurk Instagram between each exercise, not sets.
3) Thou Shalt Not Drop The Weights
Alright, Hercules. We get it. The gym vibe, your favourite pre-workout, and your training partner are all adding to the cause. Your blood is rushing and your mind is in bring-it-on mode. You’re fired up, and there’s nothing wrong with that — just stop dropping the weights. If you can lift them over your head 10 times over, then you can also lower them without causing a ruckus. While it’s obnoxious for anybody working out in the vicinity, it’s also very dangerous, it can damage the equipment and may even ruin the floor. Plus, let me fill you in on how girls see it: when you drop the weights so that the floor vibrates and everyone turns to look at you, we think it’s unattractive, lame, immature, inexperienced — the list goes on. Besides, it takes greater strength to let them down slowly.
4) Thou Shalt Not Stand Between Another Person And The Mirror
Mirrors in the gym are primarily used for three things: they’re there so you can check yourself out, they’re used for discreetly checking others out (which is actually not so discreet considering they’re, well, mirrors), but, most importantly, mirrors in the gym are intended to help people assess and correct their exercise technique and form to ensure they are performing their movements correctly. So when someone has positioned themselves in front of a mirror while they are working out, try not to walk in front of them or stand between them and the mirror.
5) Thou Shalt Not Disturb Gym Flow
I’ve saved this one for last because there just isn’t a nice way to put it. Even if I like you, even if I enjoy having a conversation with you, while I am doing my thing at the gym, you need to be aware of my gym flow. Some people go to the gym to hang out and don’t consider time an issue; others have their routines mapped out to the minute and every second counts. When you see someone with their headphones in or with the “I’m busy” look in their eyes, it is most appropriate to give them a nod, subtle smile, and leave it at that.
Over time (if you haven’t already), you’ll discover that the gym is a mirror to just about every other faction of society. Most people are generally pretty cool and friendly and you even (gasp!) enjoy being around them, but every now and again you’re bound to encounter those types of people who are best described as total you-know-whats. But the prime way to cope with the people who sit on a bench talking on their phone, punk you for a machine, or continually smash the floor into smithereens is to simply chill. Stick to these must-follow commandments, lead by example, and eventually others will follow suit.