The gentleman’s guide to gym etiquette

How to make the most of your workout without making it hell for others...

Step away from the snack cupboard. Christmas is over. Unfortunately, that paunch you’ve put on looks like it’ll be sticking around. So, open your wallet (for something other than the sales), renew your gym membership and head for the elliptical – it’s workout time.

However, gym-going decorum and decency could well have slipped your fragile post-festivities mind. With this in mind, before you head back into the iron-pumping jungle, refresh yourself on these rules of gym etiquette...

Always wipe down the equipment

It’s nice to see that you’re trying your very hardest, but no-one wants to experience your blood, sweat and tears first-hand. That’s why, chief among any practices, should be wiping down the equipment immediately after you’ve used it.

Look, it’s a gym – no-one’s going to chastise or victimise you for sweating a little. But, if you drench a bench and then leave it wet, you’ve only got yourself to blame if trouble runs your way. And, with packs of muscle-bound, pumped-up alphas stomping around the place, we wouldn’t like to see you inadvertently anger anyone. Beef with the beefed-up is to be avoided at all costs. So, pick up a towel.

Return your weights every time

Again, this one’s just common courtesy. There’s nothing more infuriating than following a workout regime to the letter, and then finding that the particular free weight you need has gone walkabout. No-one goes to the gym for fun – if you do, you may need a more exciting life – and most of us just want to get in and get out. So, wasting 30 minutes hunting for the dumbbell that you dropped over by the rowing machine is not going to go down well.

It’s really not that hard; use the weights and then return them to the rack (having been thoroughly sanitised). Even if another gym-goer has replaced their weights in the wrong place, just take a little time to swap them back over and reorganise them correctly – think of it as an extra bonus set.

Lower the equipment – don’t drop it

If there’s one sound you’re guaranteed to hear over the rhythmic thumps and thuds of pounding playlists, it’s the crashes of optimistic lifters. We know you’re just trying to push yourself, but it’s still important to know your limits when it comes to the weight you’re lifting. If you don’t, then you might damage yourself and the equipment.

Broken barbells and dented dumbbells do not for a conducive workout environment make. Take care with the equipment and lower it gently back onto the rack or ground – and, that way, it’ll still work next time you come back to it. If you want to throw your weights around, invest in a home gym.

Put your phone away

If you like to think of yourself as a ‘fitfluencer’, don’t. In fact, if you use words like ‘fitfluencer’, it might be time to rethink quite a few things. That aside, your phone has no place in the gym – unless you’re using it to keep track of your timings, or for music reasons. That’s it. The minute you turn the camera on to those mirrors for a spree of selfies, you’ve given up your phone privileges.

Keep it in your pocket, invest in some of the best sweat-proof headphones for working out, and use your phone as it was intended to be used in the gym – to blare incentivising techno at you. And, don’t even think about taking a phone call…

Don’t be selfish, share the machines

Above all, a gym is about keeping fit. But, community comes a close second; these are places where your push and drive will fuel others to become their best selves. But, how can they do that when you’ve left your water bottle on the chest press bench during a completely unrelated warm-up?

If you’re squeezing in a workout, the likelihood is that others in the gym are, too – and there is no excuse for spreading your stuff around at peak times. Keep your possessions close, your timings tight and remember to always share the machines.

Looking for the best New Year workout? Here’s how to get the body of an elite boxer…

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