For the devowed, the gym isn’t just a building with weights, it’s a place of worship. A temple where they can go and work off the stress they face during the day, where they won’t be judged, where they feel at home. As with other institutions, the gym has a code that separates the parishioners from the posers. These golden rules form the sacred system that constitutes proper etiquette and ensures others aren’t stuck waiting hours for a squat rack, have cleaner equipment, and greater gains for all who obey. These, my fellow patrons, are the The Ten Commandments of the Gym.
I. You Don’t Talk About Lifting At The Gym. If you live the gym life, you shouldn’t have to tell everyone you live the gym life. Whether you’re on day one or day one hundred, lifting is now your fight club, and we all know the first rule of fight club. When you walk into the gym, you simply nod at your fellows in arms and keep walking. No one wants to hear how much you can squat or if you’ve put on another pound of muscle. Your results should do the talking.
II. Sending Text Messages Doesn’t Build Muscle. This sin is the most disrespectful of all the commandments. If you can surf Facebook or have a whole conversation with your girlfriend between sets, you aren’t working hard enough. Add some weight, turn up your music, and get your head in the game. Respect that others are here to work, and you should be, too. That means not hogging the bench press on International Chest Day by scrolling emails for ten minutes after each set because someone who is serious about their workout is waiting on you to finish.
III. Don’t Scream On Your First Rep If You’re About To Do Nine More. Trust me, no one is impressed. If you’re going for a new PR and manage to lift it twice, go ahead and let it go – exhaling loudly may even help you release the energy you need. But if you can lift a weight for ten reps, screaming for all of them just makes everyone else roll their eyes and turn their music up a little more. You’ll get all the attention you want, but for the opposite reason.
IV. Whatever A Gym Bro Tells You Is 10% Fact And 100% BroScience. Did you know you can gain more muscle if you only drink protein shakes before and after your workout in a four hour window? No? That’s probably because you heard it from the meathead on the bench next to you. Just because someone has the physique you want doesn’t mean they know what they’re talking about. Check yourself before you wreck yourself and research the facts for yourself before following any advice from a Bro you met at the gym.
V. Go To The Gym With A Fitness Goal, Not To Get Laid. The gym is a place to put in work. Staring at that girl in the mirror is creeping her out more than you will ever know. Anyone you would want to sleep with at the gym is probably there for a serious workout anyway, and doesn’t need you to interrupt their flow to give you their phone number, which they probably won’t anyway.
VI. Rerack Your Weights. This isn’t your bedroom and the other lifters aren’t your mom. If you have to be told to clean up after yourself, you need to question some other things in your life besides what you’re doing at the gym. Just because you can leg press 600lbs doesn’t mean the older guy who is trying to rehab his hip can. Reracking your weights, aside from being respectful so others don’t have to spend half their workout looking for matching dumbbells, adds a little extra lift to your session. If the weights are too heavy for you to put back, ask any female employee of the gym and she’ll be happy to assist you.
VII. Wipe Your Sweat Off The Bench. We get it, some people just sweat more than others. That doesn’t mean it’s okay to leave a wet impression of your body behind on every bench and machine you use. Most gyms now provide towels for just this reason, or at the very least some sanitizer and paper towels. If yours doesn’t and you know you’re a heavy sweater, bring your own. No one wants to lay in your nasty sweat or have to clean it up in order to use some equipment.
VIII. You Don’t Stop When You’re Tired, You Stop When You’re Done. If you plan to do eight reps, don’t stop at seven because you “feel tired.” If you’re on the treadmill for thirty minutes, don’t hop off at 25 because “it’s close enough.” You’re here to do work, not make excuses. Sure, unless you’ve got a trainer no one is going to know you didn’t do the whole routine. But the only person you’re cheating is yourself, and your results will show it.
IX. Running Your Mouth Doesn’t Count As Exercise. Unless you’re asking to work in with someone or confirming your form or next move with your gym buddy, talking burns zero calories and accounts for zero gains. Put your music on, your head down and your focus on what you’re working on. Hating on someone for what they are doing won’t get you anywhere either. Unless you see someone who is going to get hurt or hurt someone else, shut your mouth and put on your blinders.
X. Go Hard Or Go Home. How many times do you see someone half-assing their reps with light weight or walking at 1mph on the treadmill while they text? These are the people who are at the gym simply to say they went, not because they want real results. Don’t be this person; you show up to do work. If you aren’t prepared to put in the effort, don’t take up space from someone who really wants to be there.
Honor The Ten Commandments of the Gym, and the respect you earn will be heavenly. Whether you’re brand new or a seasoned vet, following these golden rules will prevent you from making an ass out of yourself or worse going to fitness hell.
Know some other commandments or gym rules to live by? Let all of us know in the comments below. Who knows, your saintly words might end up as fitness gospel.