Are you “that guy” (or girl) in the gym? You know the guy I am talking about, the screamer, the poser, the fashion victim, the selfie king, and/or the mess maker. Some gyms implement sanctions for users who show such behaviours, but not nearly enough, and definitely not the gym I attend. There are unwritten rules which good gym users abide by. Being a regular gym user is like being part of a small community. You see the same faces, on the same days, at the same times. You say hello to the same people who you don’t know and never have an actual conversation with. Sometimes you don’t even say that much and you simply nod your head in acknowledgement that you are seeing them yet again. But out of respect for the gym, and the community of gym users who workout beside you every week, you abide by a set of rules, some enforced, some unwritten. Yet, there is always one or two individuals who don’t play by the rules and show some (or all) of the following behaviours:
- The guy who never puts his weights away – It is not difficult. If you remove a dumbbell from the rack, once you have finished, put it back, “if you are strong enough to pick them up, then you are strong enough to put them back”. The free weights area of the gym has the potential risk of injury, and this is increased if plates, bars and dumbbells are all over the place. Carrying a heavy set of dumbbells from the rack to your bench is not an easy task, and it is made much harder when you have to step over dumbbells, bars and plates which people have not bothered putting back. But it is not only equipment left on the floor which is annoying and carries a risk of injury. The same guys who are too lazy to put their dumbbells back on the rack are generally the same guys who don’t strip their bars when they have finished using them. It is infuriating when you approach the squat rack or a bench, and you want to do a light warm up set, but the guy before you left 150kg on the bar. Most people struggle to find the time to get to the gym. Most days, I have 45 minutes to get my session done before I have to get home to look after my boys because my wife needs to leave for work. I need to be as time efficient as possible within that 45 minutes. The intensity of my session drops if I have to spend 2-minute stripping the bar before doing a quick warm up set. So, if you are “that guy”, next time you lift, don’t be a nob, strip the bar when you have finished.
- The sweaty mess – This is probably my biggest pet hate in the gym, cleaning up someone else’s sweat, I find it disgusting. When I approach a bench, I just want to start my set, but nine times out of ten I have to clean the bench before I can lie on it. I don’t like using my towel to clean up someone else’s sweat, nor do I like laying my towel on top of their mess. Both of these result in my towel being damp or wet with someone else’s sweat. Luckily, in my gym, they have paper towels and anti-bacterial spray. However, from time to time, the stock of towels runs out and/or the spray is empty. The walk to the toilet to get toilet paper etc. eats into my workout time and p**ses me off. It is so easy to lay a towel down on a bench before you use it, don’t be lazy. Leaving it sweaty is not only unhygienic, it is very annoying. If you are “that guy”, please bring a towel to the gym next time you workout.
- The fashion victim – clothing items such as jeans and flip flops are not appropriate training gear, even if you have just stopped by the gym after going shopping and are just doing some upper body weights, it is still unacceptable. It would be frowned upon to attend a restaurant in your shorts and sports vest as it is not appropriate attire, well, nor are jeans in the gym. Appropriate training gear is comfortable, allows you the range of movement you require and does not make you look like a fool. Also, remember the gym is not a runway, you are not being assessed on your style or fashion sense. Big clumpy fashionable trainers with the laces undone, hoodies with the sleeves cut off, baggy jogging bottoms etc. are not necessary. Part of your reason for going to the gym might be to meet someone, so by all means take care of your appearance. But you can still look good in gym gear. T-shirt and shorts, or t-shirt and sports vest are most appropriate. Sports tracksuit bottoms are acceptable in colder months. A sports jumper or hoody is also acceptable for the first few minutes of the session, but once your heart rate is up you should have no need for a hoody or jumper.
- The guy who makes unnecessary noises (the screamer) – every gym has one, or two. The guy who screams when he lifts. With every exercise, there are two aspects to each movement, a concentric and eccentric phase. The eccentric phase is generally the easier part of the movement and the part where you inhale, and then the concentric phase is generally the more difficult part of the movement and the part where you exhale. No matter how difficult the concentric part of the movement is, there is no need to scream whilst you exhale. If you want everyone in the gym to look at you to see how strong you are, or to see how hard you are training, simply ask them to do so. But don’t scream and squeal like a constipated elephant. Other irritating and unnecessary noises include but are not limited to, the “choo choo train” and “the self-motivator”. Making noises like a train when you exhale is not necessary. It is not the most annoying noise you can make, but it will not help your lift in any way and is likely to annoy those around you. However, it is not as annoying as the “self-motivator”. “Come on, you can do this”, and “you got this” are typical statements which are acceptable if they are coming out of the mouth of your gym partner (as long as he or she is not screaming them), but if you are saying them to yourself, then please just talk to yourself in your head. We don’t need a running commentary of your thoughts as you lift. So, if you are “the screamer”, the “loud exhaler”, or the “self-motivator”, please tone it down a bit.
- The phone addict – our phones go everywhere with us nowadays, and our whole life is accessible at the palm of your hand. But for the 40-60 minutes that you are in the gym, it is not necessary for you to check your email, browse facebook or google how long it takes to walk around the world. I am not saying you should leave your phone at home. Most people use the timer or stopwatch on their phone, or access their training program via their notes (or their online personal trainer at cleaverfitness.com J ), both of which are perfectly acceptable. If you are logging your training data, watching exercise demonstrations, or timing your workout that is fine, but any other use is not necessary. Browsing facebook in between sets will simply extend your rest periods and decrease the intensity and effectiveness of your training session. If you want to take a selfie whilst you have got a pump on then fair enough. A visual aid to track your progress can be useful, but there is no need to do it in the middle of the gym. I have seen guys take their tops off in the middle of the free weights area so they can snap a quick pic. At the end of your session, when you are in the changing room if you want to take a selfie to track your progress then go for it, but not in the middle of the gym. I am not knocking those who have worked hard on their appearance, congrats on achieving a good physique, or making good strides towards achieving your objective, you are well in your rights to be proud of what you have achieve and there is nothing wrong with wanting to share it with your family and friends, but I don’t need to see it whilst I lift.
Having a littler consideration and respect for the gym, its staff and its members goes a long way. It creates a much safer and enjoyable environment to workout in. So, if you display any of the behaviours shown above then next time you are looking in the mirror admiring your arms and abs, take a bit of a look at yourself and think about changing your behaviour to become a better gym user. Rant finished.
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