With or without the COVID19 pandemic, a lot of people still like the idea of going to the gym for a variety of reasons. First, it provides them with a safe place to go when they want to focus on their health and fitness. Second, it’s a place that often serves as a great source of social activity. Finally, having a place to go on a regular basis often helps people maintain a routine and be accountable for setting aside time for exercise.
If you have never been to a health club, particularly one that requires a membership, you might not know what to expect. It’s not a big deal but joining any kind of a new club or organization can be a little intimidating. Walking into something new puts you in the awkward position of figuring out what you need to do to fit in with the crowd. Why does this matter? Not many people enjoy standing out in a public place.
As long as you apply yourself and make an effort, you’ll find that club members are mostly friendly. After all, everyone is working on the common goals of health and fitness. The only way you can set yourself up for scrutiny is if you were to violate what are considered general rules of etiquette. Yes, there are some do’s and don’t of which you need to be aware.
In the following sections, the information is going to focus on 10 rules of etiquette you need to know and follow. By following these rules, you will minimize possible issues and find acceptance as a reliable gym member.
1. Return Things From Where You Got Them
While stationary equipment doesn’t create many issues, there are a lot of different kinds of exercise equipment that’s being moved about the exercise spaces. Since most top-notch health clubs try to keep things organized for the members, they like to maintain things in certain spots where members know where to find them. What the health club’s personnel doesn’t like is having to follow members around and pick up after them.
It’s a very simple rule to follow. You are allowed to have access to pretty much everything the facility has to offer, but you have to share it with other members. Use what you want but always return it to its rightful place. As a matter of fact, you should return it to its rightful place the moment you finish using it. That way, other members will be able to stay up with their workout schedule and not have to run around looking for equipment.
2. Share the Equipment
A good workout facility will try to select the exercise equipment they provide with the number of people or members that want to use the equipment. Since most health clubs have limited space and financial resources, they have to respond by putting limits on the amount of equipment they provide.
It’s crucial that everyone works together to share equipment. In all likelihood, everyone in the facility is on a tight schedule. They come in to get a workout on their way to somewhere else. In a health club, respect for others permeates most of the rules of etiquette. As a rule of thumb, use the equipment the moment you get it and return the moment you are done. Also, try to limit the amount of time any piece of equipment is in your control. That’s especially important with equipment that is in high demand in a busy gym.
3. Wipe Down Equipment
Because of the COVID19 pandemic, everyone has become a bit more sensitive about having exposure to other people’s body fluids in gyms. It’s not a new concept, but it has moved up the list of what concerns most people.
Everyone in the facility is going to sweat with a good workout. That includes you. When you sit or use equipment, your body fluid will point out where you have been. No matter what equipment you come in contact with, you owe it to the next user to make sure it is free from your body fluids.
While working out, you should maintain a towel for your body and a fresh towel with which to wipe down equipment before you use it. Given the current environment, this is one rule that you can expect to get called out for if you don’t do your part.
4. Give Other People Space
In a busy gym, there is always a lot of activity with people moving about and working on their exercise routines. That’s exactly the point. Everyone is working on their routines. Everyone who shows up to the facility has a right to do what they came to do.
You must respect that everyone needs time and space to do their exercises. It will be true of you as well. You may not always have access to everything you want access to when you want it. However, it’s rude to hover around people because you are waiting your turn. It’s a far better and more polite option to ask how long they will be using what you want or need and then go about working on something else until it’s your turn.
As long as people feel they are not crowded or being pressured, they are more likely to focus on the task at hand and finish sooner than if they have to deal with distractions. Remember, the pandemic has made people more conscious of space.
5. Following Rules of Etiquette Will Benefit You
Most people join health clubs to work out and enjoy themselves. As long as everyone is doing their part to follow the rules, people can set expectations, plan their routines, and go about their business without frustration. That creates an overall environment that’s friendly and enjoyable for everyone involved.
Remember, rules of etiquette are important in place for the benefit of everyone. Yes, that includes you. It won’t take you long to see the difference between a disorganized facility full of rude members and a well-organized health club where people respect each other and follow rules. You definitely want to be part of the latter option, and you have to do your part to reap the benefits.
6. A Towel: The Most Essential Item to Bring
It might be that you want to hit the health club with nothing more than the workout clothes on your back. That’s fine, but there is another thing you need to bring that is essential with that being a clean towel. In fact, you would be well advised to bring two towels. One to wipe your sweat off equipment and one to wipe other people’s sweat off in case they neglect to do so.
In a busy commercial facility, hundreds of sweaty people will be passing through every day. That’s a lot of potential cold and flu virus carriers all in one spot. If COVID19 did nothing else, it made people aware that they need to take greater care about that to which they expose themselves. In an effort to be cautious about your health and the health of others, bringing a towel every time is important and a very small price to pay.
7. Be Patient and Flexible
Of course, you want your trip to the health club to go as smoothly as possible to fit your time constraints. Unfortunately, there will be days when things don’t work out as you wish. The fact is some days will be busier than others, making it impossible to maintain a strict routine.
Surely, you know the quote “The best-laid plans of mice and men…“ What that refers to is your need to be flexible and always have a plan B. When going to work out, it’s you that needs to allow enough time to accomplish what you want. If people are interfering with your goals by trying to accomplish theirs, it’s no one’s fault.
At all times, you must be patient and wait your turn. If patience is not your strong suit, then you need to have enough flexibility to simply shift gears and go to work out plan B.
8. You Have Rights
When you go to the health club, you are entitled to the same respect as everyone else. That means you too are entitled to your own space for a good workout.
To get your space, you simply have to claim your space. Once you lay claim to a workout area, most if not all other members will respect that space. Should you need to leave that space to exchange equipment or take a restroom break, you have a personal obligation to mark your space. Leaving a water bottle, towel, or workout bag should do the trick.
By the way, you need to be aware of your surroundings. While you don’t want others encroaching on your area, they likely feel the same way. Pick your spot or spots and stick to them.
9. Be Confident But Polite When Interacting With Others
As a show of confidence, you should never be afraid to speak your mind. In a cooperative environment, you can benefit by simply asking for what you want or need. If you need more space for your routine, politely ask others for more space. If you want or need advice on how to operate an apparatus or machine, don’t be afraid to ask an established member for advice and help.
If by chance you aren’t sure about the club’s rules, you definitely want to ask before you start stepping on toes. By establishing your willingness to talk with others about anything, you will get the opportunity to meet people and perhaps build friendships.
10. Go in With a Plan
To keep a busy workout facility working at maximum capacity and efficiency, things need to stay organized. That means clients and members need to stay as organized as possible.
If you want to do your part, you should establish in your mind what you want to accomplish in the facility before you get to the facility. As far as your routine is concerned, you should devise a plan that will allow you to get in and out as quickly and efficiently as possible. It doesn’t always have to be the same plan, but having a plan will help keep you focused and on schedule.
If by chance you anticipate socializing with other members, you should plan that as well. However, your social hour should come before or after your workout. That way you don’t have to worry about interfering with the plans of others while you are talking to your friends or enjoying refreshments.