Gym etiquette: foundational fitness rules

By John Linderman

Elm Staff Writer

The Johnson Fitness Center provides Washington College students with a great privilege; the ability to get fit and stay in shape. We share this privilege together, and in turn, respect for rules is paramount.

A gym is not a classroom like a cafeteria is not a laboratory; you have to learn what makes it special before utilizing your time there. Too often, people treat a public gym like a private jungle, leaving weights on the floor and asserting unnecessary dominance over others.

Like all kinds of etiquette, learning how to conduct yourself in the gym will save you time, energy, and many negative interactions.

1. Rerack

“Rerack,” said Clare Ingersoll, class of 2019 and current member of the JFC staff. Reracking is the simple rule of placing back your barbells, dumbbells, or weights after use, yet it is often forgotten. This is one of the oldest and most sacred rules. Neglected weights often become clutter for the staff to clean up or tripping hazards. Reracking is a way to both keep your gym clean, and get an added workout from the extra lifting.

2. Wipe Down Equipment

Coach Johnny Jenkins said, “Wipe down your equipment.” For some, sweating can be a litmus test for the amount of effort you put into the gym. Regardless of that, sweat can stick around on your used equipment, benches, and mats. Remember to wipe down these with one of the provided sanitary cloths   and to save the effort of the gym staff at closing time.

3. Be Courteous of Others

“Rerack, don’t take up too much space, and not everyone wants to talk to you,” said senior Ajyh Johnson, a staff member at the JFC. It is important to remain courteous to everyone you share the gym with. Common breaches of courtesy include, but are not limited to, flirting, unsolicited advice, screaming during sets, and not respecting personal space. The gym is a place of solace and personal work for many, so stay mindful. Drop sets also create a lot of noise and distract others, so be extra mindful of who is around you.

4. Educate Yourself First

Most people will be happy to help with a common question or two, but no one is your free personal trainer. If you are going to use the gym, set a plan for your sets and reps before walking through the doors. If you do not come in with a set plan, you may find yourself playing on your phone for good set and exercise ideas, which will only delay you and distract others.

Also, learn what each piece and place of the gym is for. Don’t do curls in the squat rack. Use collars on your barbell if you’re using either heavy, or more than two weights. You could save yourself time and a trip to the emergency room.

5. Cleanliness

Remember to stay fresh during and after your time in the gym. This includes washing your clothes, bringing deodorant, and taking a shower after if you have to. A bad smell in the gym can dampen the environment and people’s ability to work. Keep yourself in top shape by prioritizing cleanliness in line with your workouts.

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