Gym Etiquette: Learn the Rules So You Won’t Be Intimidated!

If you’re new to fitness, the gym can be a very intimidating place. There is a certain etiquette, with unspoken rules and complicated machines that everyone else seems to understand naturally. If you’ve made the choice to take care of your wellbeing, don’t let gym intimidation put you off. We asked ACE-certified personal trainer Amy Froneman for the gym rules you need to know.


1. Take a Tour: According to Froneman, ‘Most gyms offer you a brief tour before you first sign up. Take it. Don’t assume you’ll know where everything is or how everything works. Not everything is intuitive in a gym environment and even if you’ve belonged to a gym before, they’re not all the same. Make sure you ask lots of questions, not just so you know how things work, but also to make sure it’s the type of gym you will feel comfortable in.’


2. Leave Your Mobile in Your Locker: ‘Unless you’re using your mobile with earphones to listen to music, leave it in the locker in the changing room,’ Froneman advises. ‘Apart from the fact this is your time to exercise, there are few things that will irritate your fellow gym-goers more than someone talking business on the treadmill next to them. Besides, if you can conduct a business call, you’re probably not working out hard enough.’


3. Have a Plan: Froneman asserts, ‘It’s all very well to sign up at gym kitted out in sporty new workout gear… but looking the part and being in the right place won’t get you any closer to your goals. Avoid being one of those people who sign up at the beginning of the year and are MIA by the time winter arrives. Hire a qualified trainer to write you a training programme that you can follow, even if they’re not there for every workout. This will also help you avoid another big mistake many people new to gym make – exercising without correct form. Not only will this lead to injury, but it probably won’t get you any closer to your goals either.  However, if you can’t afford a trainer, join a group class until you feel more comfortable working out on your own.’


4. Take it One Step at a Time: ‘You might be all gung-ho now, but if you push yourself too hard, too soon and sign up for every class available or spend two hours every day at the gym, you will burn out and very possibly injure yourself,’ warns Froneman. ‘If you exercise with an efficient training plan you will reach your goals much more easily and with less risk of overtraining. Leave your ego at the door – contrary to what you may think, no-one is keeping tabs on how much or how often you work out.’


5. Take a Towel: Froneman comments, ‘Getting sweaty is pretty much a guarantee when you workout, but leaving puddles of sweat on the different machines you use is a very definite no-no. And remember to wash your towel after every session, you never know what kind of germs could be lurking on that seat.’


6. Pack it Away: ‘No matter how at-home you may feel in your gym, you still have to share it with a group of strangers, so if you use the free weights, or a skipping rope, or a kettlebell, be sure to put it back when you’re done,’ Froneman instructs. ‘Good manners still apply even if you’re grunting, sweating and/or swearing during your workout.’


7. Be Considerate When the Gym is Busy: Froneman points out, ‘If you can only exercise during peak times, a little more patience and consideration from your fellow gym user is even more important than usual. So limit your time on the cardio machines to 20 minutes, give someone else a chance and then come back if you really, really need to. Again, it’s all about good manners!’

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