10 Unspoken Gym "Rules" Every Trainer Wants You to Know
Here's the thing. I think that the gym is a safe haven for people to do whatever they want- it is a place where you can go to blow off steam, work hard, and not care about what you look like or what other people think.
But, there are certain types of behaviors that are just impolite or straight up irresponsible that will inevitably get some trainers blood boiling when we see it. And sometimes, people don't even realize they're doing it, which is why I'm sharing this with you here- so you don't have to be THAT guy/girl.
1. Do not curl in the squat rack.
Especially when it is primetime (before or after work hours) and there is a wait to get into a squat rack to actually do some serious work, nothing elicits more annoyance than seeing some dude (hate to single you out males, but I've never seen a chick do this) put 5 pounds on each side and bicep curl the barbell while gazing into his own eyes in the mirror. Unless you have more weight on there than there are fixed bars available (not too many guys can properly curl >120lbs...), leave immediately before I walk up behind you with this face reflecting back at you in the mirror.
2. Rack your weights. And pick up your towels.
This stuns me to see how many people do not do this basic-mannered, simple action. Did a pack of wolves raise you? If you don't pick it up, someone else will have to and they shouldn't have to. When I was starting out as a trainer, that meant I would help clean up to keep things running smoothly- then juicehead over there would leave me seven 45-pound plates on the leg press to clean up. Thanks for that BRO.
(I had to go back and add this into this post because it was so perfect)
Also, as one of the best in the training industry, Eric Cressey, likes to say-
3. This is not the circus. It's a gym.
Unless you are legitimately training for Cirque du Soleil or something similar, please do not decide that a stability ball is a great place to try to balance and do squats while doing a resistance band row. You might be trying to impress that hot dude or girl near you, but other than giving me grey hair from anxiety watching you and a very high possibility of a concussion for you, the reward vs. risk ratio is zero to a hundred.
4. Do not unnecessarily slam barbells/freeweights/weight stacks on cables down.
Note that I said unnecessarily. I slam down my barbell when I'm cleaning or deadlifting extremely heavy out of necessity. Not when I'm doing lighter work. It draws attention in a negative way when you're throwing things around to prove you're the big man or woman in the room- not only this, but more importantly, it can distract people around you and/or put them in danger. I was once kneeling down by my client and some guy decided to throw down his 30 pound curl bar and it bounced about 6 inches from my skull. I've already had three concussions in my life and I don't need a fourth, thanks.
5. Walking around looking down at your phone while walking around the gym is for morons who like to get run over.
You will either run into something and hurt yourself, or you will run into someone and hurt them. There are heavy weights and people running around- eyes up!! I was once jump-roping during the middle of the day when it was nearly-empty and some guy texting on his phone walked straight into me, then had the audacity to try to berate me for whacking him with my jump rope. It took one raised eyebrow from me for him to sheepishly realize his ridiculous reaction and to walk away.
6. Sharing is caring- but know when to ask.
I appreciate when other people welcome rotating between sets so we can all use the equipment in a timely fashion- I always do this as well. There's no reason not to! However, there are certain things that well, you can't really share easily. Cables, machines are all 1-second changes to adjust the weight- but a squat rack or a barbell? Unless you are doing the exact same weight as me or my client, it is a really awkward hassle and time-waster to swap weights back and forth between the two of us.
7. Wear clothes meant for exercise.
Seems like a no brainer, but you'd be surprised. I'm all for wearing what makes you feel confident, comfortable, and happy, whether that be fun, colorful tight clothing or baggy tees and leggings- I myself am usually the latter.
But. If that means that I have to see the entire lower half of your buttcheeks hanging out of your semi-sheer booty shorts as you walk around, then increase that to 100% of your sweaty butt when you bend over... No one wants to see that. And I'm sure that the only ones that do, you don't want looking at your butt that way.
8. Shelf your ego just a little when you're offered advice on your form.
When a trainer gives you a tip- they are really just trying to help. We completely understand some people prefer to be left alone when training (myself included), but if something is really off or even potentially dangerous for you, we have a moral obligation and a genuine desire to help. So let us. Your lift will improve, your body will feel better, and everyone wins.
9. Chewing gum while working out.
This seems like the most basic common sense, but I see this way more frequently than I would like. Choking hazard anyone? (Most) trainers have CPR/AED certifications, but we'd prefer to avoid this potential pitfall by you simply spitting it out. Not only a choking hazard, but breathing is extremely important to the effectiveness and efficiency of any given exercises, even simple stretching (actually, one of the most important things during stretching).
10. And now for my favorite:
The guy who lifts his shirt up to wipe the sweat off his brow... while he has a nice clean towel in his other hand. It's always conveniently by a mirror or a group of chicks- isn't that just a lovely coincidence? Not a rule per say, but this should be.