1. Practice Gym Courtesy.
A gym is filled with mirrors, especially in the weight room area. When I was younger, if someone was performing curls, shrugs, or whatever exercise facing a mirror, no one would ever walk directly in their path. If they did they would expect to get a plate across the side of their head. Today, I see gym members constantly walking in front of other members who are working out in front of a mirror.
Granted, if a lifter is ten feet away from the mirror and you need to get by, that is not a problem. But, if you possibly can, walk around the lifter who is using the mirror. You might find that they will do the same for you.
2. Leave the cell phone in the car.
Most gyms today strictly prohibit cell phone use on the floor of the gym but I have yet to see any of them enforce this rule. To me, there is nothing more annoying than waiting for a machine while another member occupying it is on the phone. And now that almost all cell phones also include a camera even using the cell phone in the locker room should be prohibited.
That is why I suggest you leave the phone in the car. If you feel that you may have to be reached in an emergency, by a son or daughter or elderly parents, just have that person call the gym. Most gyms have systems that can alert a member over a loudspeaker should they need to be contacted.
3. Don't Yak. Work Out!
This is another huge pet peeve of mine. How many times have you been to a gym and have seen another member do a set and then talk to another member for ten minutes. In the meantime, you have done about five sets and are moving onto your next exercise. I am actually more concerned when that member is trying to goad me into that ten minute conversation.
What I typically do is say hello, make about a thirty second idle chit chat and then put my ear buds back in. I have actually changed gyms because there were too many people I knew there and they all wanted to get into a conversation in between sets.
4. Consider a Partner.
I have gone through many a partner and now I'm at a stage of my working-out career where I don't even want a partner. But, to be honest, sometimes it helps a lot to have a partner. Years ago, when I did have a partner, I would get up out of bed, even when feeling a little unmotivated, and go to the gym just knowing that my partner was going to be there. That brings up another point. If you are going to use a partner make sure that partner is consistent.
There is nothing more frustrating than looking forward to having a good workout and expecting your partner to show up and you're let down. Having a workout partner definitely helps if you want to push yourself to failure. What I do is simply ask another member for a quick spot. I have never seen a member turn another member down when they have asked for a spot in an exercise. Also, most weight machines today have safety features which will stop the weights from injuring you should you lose control of the weight.
5. Leave the opposite sex alone.
Some people feel that if there is a girl working out next to them then they are fair game to be hit upon. I have worked out with few guys who went to the gym for one reason; to pick up girls. The gym I go to actually has a women-only workout room and it is very busy in that room. But the main workout area with the weights and workout machines are for everyone. In fact, in the morning where I work out, there are actually more women in the weight room than men.
It is fortunate that the people in my gym, at that time, are there to work out. People leave each other alone for the most part. Everyone is there trying to get a workout in before they leave for their job. It's a businesslike approach which is the way I like it. But, if you want to pick up women, or meet men for that matter, go elsewhere.
6. Bring ear buds or headphones.
Nearly every cardio machine that you will use today, if the gym is fairly new, will have a hookup for ear buds or headphones. Every morning I use a treadmill that has an on-board cable television. Since I get to the gym extremely early (4:45 AM) each morning, I am able to catch up on the news while I am doing my cardio workout. Without them you will only be able to view the television since there are no external speakers.
7. Buy an iPod or MP3 player.
Once you have finished your cardio workout and are heading to the weight room you will want to have an iPod or an MP3 player to listen to while you work out. I use an armband to carry my iPod which is typical of most members at my gym. Using an iPod or MP3 player also tends to let you focus on the workout. And when other members see that you are listening to music they will tend not to bother you as readily. So the benefits of listening to music at a gym are two-fold.
8. Buy a flash memory stick.
You probably didn't expect to see this one on the list. The latest in gym equipment, particularly cardio machines, are equipped with USB connectivity. If you have a flash memory stick you can now download the vital statistics that you see on the display at the end of each workout. This will allow you to log your workouts in a spreadsheet like Microsoft Excel to track your progress.
I even use an exercise bike that goes even further than that. It includes a display with a login to a site called www.expresso.net. Before you even start your workout you log into the above website and your workout times are tracked automatically. You don't even have to save the data off to a flash memory stick. It is automatically tracked, sent to a central database, and you can check your times any time you want against other riders on different bicycle courses who belong to this website. Talk about innovation!
Hopefully this helpful advice on gym etiquette, what to do at the gym, and getting the most out of your workouts, will make your life in the gym that much more gratifying and productive. So if you've been asking yourself “I joined a gym now what?”. You just might have, at least, some of the answers. Have a great workout!