Motivating yourself to get to the gym is hard enough. If you carve time out of your day to get there and people are acting like jerks, it’s enough to make you want to trash your fitness plan all together.
Just like any place where strangers are forced into close proximity, like an office or a restaurant, the gym has some unspoken rules that help everybody get along. Unfortunately, in the sweaty haze of grunt-filled workouts, gym etiquette is too often tossed aside like a ten pound dumbbell.
So, to prevent you from becoming that person at the gym or help you see the past error of your ways, we’ve compiled a handy list of all the obnoxious gym behavior we would like to see go the way of tae-bo — you know, that god awful “taekwondo-boxing” total body workout that was popular in the 1990s only to be never seen again since.
Here are the 10 most annoying things people do at the gym.
Surrounding Yourself With Dumbbells
Supersets, circuit training, and lifting to exhaustion have come into vogue in recent years. While these approaches have their merits when done right, that doesn’t mean they should be attempted during peak hours at LA Fitness. It seems that some people think that placing a half-dozen sets of dumbbells around a bench signals that they’re serious about their workout, but all it really says is that you’re a weight hog who hordes 40s, 45s, and 50s from the rest of us.
If you’re going to attempt a complex, equipment-heavy routine, start at the crack of dawn or workout during the graveyard shift.
Using the Wrong Equipment For the Job
With the exception of the few macho jerks you’ll find at every gym, people aren’t there to judge newbies. That being said, make sure you choose the right equipment for your workout. Nothing is more infuriating than one of two squat racks in the entire gym being taken up by someone doing bicep curls or missing out on a precious bench commandeered for crunches.
Not Putting Your Weights Away
No matter what time of day you go to the gym, you’ll see orphaned weights just sitting in the middle of the floor. If it’s too much effort to re-rack your weights, that means you shouldn’t be lifting that much weight. Not only are overworked gym attendants going to be forced to clean up your mess, but numerous people will walk by, assume someone is still using your weights, and waste time waiting for the invisible man to finish their workout.
Working Out Right In Front of the Dumbbell Rack
Step away from the rack! I repeat, step away from the rack! Men (and it’s almost always men) have this weird tendency to do shrugs or curls right in front of the dumbbell rack. Maybe it’s because they can barely lift the weight (again, lift less weight!) or maybe they want a perfect view of their emerging muscles in the mirror. But, whatever the motivation, get over yourself and take a few steps back from the rack before starting your exercise.
We’ve all been there. You walk up to the only open bench in the gym, only to find a small rag or empty water bottle marking the territory for someone who is nowhere to be found. It’s one thing if you’re hurrying to the water fountain for a quick slurp between sets, but far too many gym goers treat equipment like a coaster on top of a bar pint. If you just have to chat, flirt, or take that clutch mirror selfie, do the right thing and give up the bench so the rest of us can get on with our day.
Proper breathing is important to any work out. Letting everyone in the gym know how hard you’re working out is not. Yes, when we work out, we sometimes might feel like we’re getting in touch with our inner Neanderthal, but keep that spiritual journey to yourself. No one is going to be impressed when they hear your constipated groans from the other side of the gym. Primal screams worked for Tarzan, but in an air conditioned gym playing Katy Perry, it’s a bit much.
Water Fountain Abuse
One guy takes ten minutes filling up his jumbo size thermos. Another guy holds up the line, too macho to use the water fountain next to someone else. Keep it moving. Take the next available fountain. And keep it to five Mississippi. Everyone needs water, so make sure if you’re going to drink out of a five gallon jug, you fill it up before you leave the house.
Talking on the Phone
In an era where it feels like you never see people actually talking on the phone, somehow, someone in the gym is always talking on the phone. The reality is that many millennials work 24-hour, on-call jobs created by the crushing gig economy — we are perpetually multitasking. Do yourself and everyone around you a favor and unplug during your workout. Who knows? Maybe you’ll find some workout induced serenity. Namaste.
Besides, if you have to, you can always text or email.
If someone is working out and you don’t want to work in, don’t stand there tapping the invisible watch on your wrist with a sour look on your face. No one likes to be rushed, and as long as the guy using your weights isn’t negotiating a real estate deal or taking a nap between sets, you can wait your turn. A watched squat never boils.
Giving Unwelcome Advice
I am in the position to give you advice on this website because you clicked on this article, which amounts to asking for it. People in the gym, especially attractive women, probably didn’t ask for your advice. Before you hold forth on the finer points of squat form to that girl in a tank top and yoga pants, ask yourself, “Is this important for their safety or fitness?” Then ask them if they have the time or energy to listen to you.
It’s also important to remember that being open to your advice isn’t an open invitation for an impromptu Tinder date. Keep it snappy, and take that newly sculpted bod to other more acceptable flirting environments if you want to score a date.
Next up, here’s why you should reconsider hitting on women at the gym.
- Words: Brenden Gallagher
- Illustrations: Stephen Cheetham