So, now that the country is starting to get back to normal, the big question for gym goers is: has gym etiquette changed in any way?
The answer is yes. And in some ways, the “new normal” at the gym is a better normal.
We’ve really been through a lot of different phases of ‘gym life’ over the past 15 months, haven’t we? Personally, I was lucky to have some gear in my garage and trained on my own for the first seven months or so. I think many of us were in the same boat – and kudos to you if you stayed on the fitness trail and worked hard to stay in shape or even improve during ‘lockdown’. It wasn’t easy, but it was totally worth it, not only physically but also mentally, emotionally and relationally!
Since then, it seems gyms have opened up at different rates around the world. Depending on where you read this, you might still be working out at home, while others might have a gym that feels safe to be 100% open. I am in the Chicago area and we are fortunate that our gym has finally been able to return to somewhat normal levels. Since I’m a psychopath and usually go to the gym twice a day (who’s with me?), I see everything – and learn new norms in real time, just like you.
As you return to the gym and hopefully get back to “normal” life, here are some things to keep in mind to be considerate of our fellow human beings:
- Yes, you should wipe down the equipment you just finished using. In fact, we always should have done this anyway. It’s not only courteous, but it will also help protect the rest of us from germs that cause colds, the flu, or just touching that big sweaty mess you just left on that bench…
This brings us to our second thought…
- “Working” may no longer be a thing. Some people are still quite sensitive to the six-foot rule or the spread of germs in general, so they don’t want to share their personal space or equipment with a stranger. So if you walk into the gym ready for an intense day of squatting, but see someone in your favorite rack, rather than asking if you can work out, try to be patient! Perhaps you can add five minutes of mobility work to your warm-up while waiting for him to complete this part of his session.
- Be flexible. If it’s chest day, then maybe you won’t be able to spend 20 minutes sitting on your favorite bench press. But, if you open your mind to the other 50 great exercises to activate the pectoral muscles, you can replace dumbbell presses, dips or push-ups and get a great workout using different equipment in other areas of the gym. gym.
- That said, we should all do our best not to use our phones! I’m as guilty as anyone of being distracted by an email that pops up while I’m at the gym at lunchtime, so I’m talking to myself here too. We all have to realize that there could very well be someone waiting for the equipment we use, and if we do a set and then sit there and stare at our phone for five minutes before we do our next set, well that’s just gross – not to mention a waste of time and inefficient exercise rhythm for our body. Keep moving!
- Finally, I know this is a challenge for many of us, but BEING KIND is more important than ever. We’re all making a return to face-to-face interactions with real humans, and it seems some of us have forgotten how. The gym has always been an intimidating place, especially for beginners or people trying to get back on their fitness journey after a long layoff. Since I hope you all agree with my fundamental belief that the world would be a considerably better place if everyone exercised, then we gym goers in particular should take it upon ourselves to make our gyms at least a bit friendlier. I’m not saying you have to strike up 30 minute conversations with every new face you see, but a quick hello and a smile can really mean a lot to someone, and it costs us nothing. So, it may not be easy, but we need to break out of the hermit lifestyle that we’ve all been forced into for so long and come out of our shells and help each other by practicing simple kindness.