It's been referred to as the gympocalypse; the beginning of the year when resolutioners join the gym en masse. Having a solid resolution and being serious about change is commendable, and joining a gym is a great way of doing so. Due to the large influx of new members in a small period of time, the gym becomes a Wild West where anything goes. This sort of unorganized environment makes it difficult to properly utilize equipment. Here are a few of the important rules resolutioners should acquaint themselves with before becoming regulars.
Wiping Down Equipment
We get it; you get sweaty when you workout. At the same time, no one wants to workout in a puddle of your sweat. Wiping down equipment isn't always mandatory. No one will care if you don't wipe down a piece of equipment before you start your set. If you want to workout on dirty equipment, that's your prerogative. If however, the equipment is sweaty, wet, or otherwise dirty AFTER you use it, wipe it down. Gyms offer a sanitizing solution and paper towels. It's much more important that you wipe down equipment after you're done using it, especially if you've made it noticeably sweaty or dirty.
Don't Bother People
Many people go to the gym to workout and get out. Others don't mind socializing. Avoid bothering people who are actively working out. If they are wearing headphones, there's a good chance they want to be left alone. If you workout around the same time each day, you'll start to figure out who the socializers are.
Don't Take Other People's Equipment
When moving from one piece of equipment to another, make sure you're not moving onto equipment that's already taken. There are times when someone takes a momentary break to get water or use the bathroom. This makes equipment appear free. If there are personal items (towel, phone, water bottle, workout journal) near a piece of equipment without a person, chances are someone is using the area. If you come upon an area that looks occupied without a person, give the person enough time to get back. You can also ask anyone nearby if the machine is taken. The other side of this rule is to avoid taking excessive breaks while using equipment. Save water and bathroom breaks for periods when you are not occupying any equipment.
Don't Use Excessive Amounts of Equipment at Once
Supersets are a great way to increase intensity. When the gym is crowded, these supersets are impossible to do without inconveniencing a lot of people. Avoid taking more than one machine at a time during heavy traffic. Instead, use a jump rope or body weight exercises in conjunction with gym equipment to increase intensity without inconveniencing others.
Cell Phone Use
No one really cares if you use your cell phone at the gym. It only becomes an issue when your cell phone use prolongs the time you occupy equipment. Don't use your cell phone while sitting on equipment between sets. This isn't only selfish, it also makes your workout much less effective as rest periods increase, intensity decreases, and duration becomes ineffectively long. Get wireless headphones, turn your music on, and put your phone in away until you're done working out.
Squat racks are made for squatting. There are not too many exceptions to this rule and curling in the squat rack is definitely not one of them! The squat rack is a magnet for non-squat exercisers because it's placed directly in front of a mirror and has easy access to a bar and plenty of weight. Gyms have a limited amount of squat racks but an almost infinite amount of space to do bicep curls in. It makes no sense to do bicep curls (or other isolation exercises) on a squat rack when you can just as easily do them anywhere else.
Yes the gym is kind of a disgusting place when you think about it (try not to dwell on it for too long), but this does not give you the right to go to the gym wearing dirty clothes. Always wash your gym clothes before wearing them again. You should also wear deodorant and practice good general hygiene. No one likes to workout around the stinky person, and in a confined gym, that stinky person does a lot of damage to the entire gym.
Put Weights Away
When you're done using free weights, put them away in their proper place. It's confusing and somewhat annoying to approach a bar loaded up with weights. Is someone using this bar or were they just too "busy" to clean up after themselves?
The Bottom Line
There's no place for a "here come all those dam resolutioners" mentality at the gym. Everyone starts somewhere and no one has the right to claim their reason for joining a gym is superior to anyone else's. The New Year (gympocalypse) is unique because this is the period of time when most new members join. It's important to know these rules before you get to the gym in order to make it a more productive environment for everyone.