With New Year’s resolutions in full swing, gyms are busier than ever this time of year. So, what is the proper etiquette for navigating a crowded gym? Is it ok to toss your towel onto a treadmill to reserve a machine?
Diane Gottsman is a national etiquette expert, sought out industry leader, accomplished speaker, author and the owner of The Protocol School of Texas. Diane says whether you’ve been working out forever, or you are first-timer, you need to know the do’s and don’ts for gym etiquette.
Some of Diane Gottsman’s tips for gym etiquette do’s and don’ts include:
1. Do Dress Appropriately. Wearing the appropriate workout attire means you’ll feel your best, a get a better workout. If you are wearing too baggy clothing you will be distracted by your clothes catching on a weight, or too revealing is distracting, and comes across as a bit desperate for attention. Neither are good starts to a great workout.
2. Don’t drop the weights. If you’re strong enough to get them over your head, you’re strong enough to get them back down to the ground in a safe location so others don’t trip over them. In other words, put away your “toys” after you play with them by re-racking the weights after using them.
3. Don’t Save a Machine. If your friend is getting a drink of water, that’s one thing. But, putting your towel on the treadmill to “save” it for someone that may or may not show up is impolite. Share the equipment and allow other guests to work in with you. If there is a time limit on a machine, get off and move on when your time is up.
4. Do Mind Your Own Business. Giving unsolicited advice may be taken with appreciation or a grain of salt. Unless someone is in danger of hurting himself or herself, keep your instruction and step-by-step tutorials to yourself.
5. Don’t Stare. Overtly checking someone out is nothing short of creepy. Equally off-putting is watching someone check themselves out in the mirrors as they make their way through the gym and back to the locker room. You look the same in every mirror!
6. Don’t Sing. When listening to your favorite music with your ear buds securely in place, remember you are probably singing along at a louder decibel (or two) than you may think.
7. Do Wipe Down the Machine Before Moving On. Preferably not the same towel you use to wipe your face and body. It’s worth investing in a pack of fitness towels with a germ shield. Use the disinfectant the gym provides specifically for this purpose.
8. Do Back Up. Respect other people’s personal space and take a step back while waiting for the weights or machine. If someone is stretching before a class, or has placed their mat down for yoga, move your mat over so the other person has room to move freely without hitting you in the head with their foot.
9. Don’t Use the Pool as Your Shower. Soap and water are still your best option. And please, whatever you do, don’t forget deodorant. It’s better to smell fresh as a daisy, rather than stale as an ashtray. On the other hand, don’t over use the cologne or scented lotion. Just come in smelling clean.
10. Don’t Spit in the Sink. Guys…don’t even think about spitting in the shower, water fountain or sink. And, keep your gum in your mouth until you find a trash can. The water fountain is not the place to leave it behind.
11. Do Leave Your Cell Phone In Your Gym Bag (Safely Locked Up in the Locker Room). Don’t carry your cell phone around with you while you lift weights or put it on the side of the basketball court while you play a quick game and then complain when it turns up missing or stolen.
And, a few of Diane’s etiquette tips for the outdoor exercise enthusiast:
- Stay on track. If you are using a public area to run, bike, or jog, but want to take a shortcut back, resist the urge to hop someone’s fence or bike across the golf course. Also steer clear of areas that are close to children, or even remotely populated when you feel the immediate need to relieve yourself and can’t wait another moment.
- Plan for dusk and dawn. It might be more convenient to take your daily run in the early morning or late night hours but keep in mind the limited visibility of oncoming traffic. Wear reflective clothing and use reflectors if you plan a midnight bike ride (which I advise against for safety reasons). Don’t forget to wear your bike helmet, and include a reflector or light.
- Obey traffic laws and be respectful of drivers and pedestrians. Utilize all pedestrian crossings and stop at stop signs if you are on a recreational vehicle. Keep in mind that you are responsible for other people’s safety as much as they are responsible for yours. Don’t surprise a walker from behind, or expect a driver to veer off the road to accommodate you.
- Clean up after your pet. If your exercise routine includes a jog or walk with your dog, bring along some plastic bags for your dog’s waste.
- Walk single file. If you are walking with a group of people, when you see someone walking toward you, allow them to pass by doubling up or walking single file, rather than making them step off onto the grass to allow your entire group to stay together. It’s really very rude!
- No littering. Those plastic water bottles won’t throw themselves away and dropping one on the side of the road or in someone’s yard and committing to circle back and pick it up never happens.
- Dress in layers. There may be a chill in the air when you leave the house but you will quickly warm up when you start moving. Peeling layers off is better than quitting because you are too hot too soon. Guys, when you don’t have an extra layer to shed, keep your T-shirt on and remember what you look like bare-chested, carrying around that extra 30 pounds from the holidays.
Diane Gottsman specializes in executive leadership and etiquette training, with clients ranging from university students to Fortune 500 companies, and her seminars cover topics ranging from tattoos in the workplace to technology at the dinner table and the proper use of social media. Her advice is backed by a Master’s Degree in Sociology with an emphasis on adult behavior. Visit http://dianegottsman.com/ and http://www.protocolschooloftexas.com/