Some of us are more comfortable in the gym than others. Everyone has to start somewhere, and following best practices is a great way to develop a routine that works for you as you begin your workout journey. With that in mind, here’s a list of what to do — and not do — in the gym.
Do: Warm Up and Cool Down
A lot of us skip these important steps, preferring to start our workout immediately and go home the moment it’s done. It’s perfectly understandable — you only have so much energy, and you don’t want to feel like you’re wasting any of it — but it can also be harmful in the long run. Warmups help prevent injury and fatigue, whereas cooldowns promote recovery and prevent your muscles from getting sore. You can keep them both simple: jumping jacks, arm circles, or light cardio for your warmup, and stretches for your cooldown.
Don’t: Repeat the Same Workout Every Time
Variety is the spice of life, including in the gym. We all have our comfort zones, but you aren’t doing yourself any favors by sticking to the exact same exercises every time you visit the gym. It’s fine when you first start going and are still feeling your way through things, but once you’ve established a routine you should start trying new things. Repetition can lead to burnout, and changing it up will make your workout mentally and physically stimulating.
Do: Wipe Down Equipment After Using It
You’d be surprised how many people ignore this essential rule of gym etiquette. Beyond common courtesy, it’s simply good hygiene — just as you don’t want to experience someone else’s sweat, they don’t want to experience yours. (It’s also better for the equipment itself.) Luckily, this one is easy to put into practice. Every gym has paper towels and some kind of disinfectant spray at several different spots, and they’re there to be used.
Don’t: Text in Between Reps
We all need to take a moment between sets, but spending too much time on your phone can turn what should be a brief respite into an extended break. It would be one thing if that were just inconsiderate of anyone who might be waiting to use whichever machine you’re on, but research shows that it can also have a negative impact on both balance and stability.
Do: Rack Weights Properly
This one might sound obvious, but you’d be unpleasantly surprised by how many people ignore it. If you’re using a 10-pound dumbbell, put it back in the correct spot. As ever, remember that you’re not the only person in the gym, and other people's needs are just as important as yours. We’re living in a society, people!
Don’t: Give Unsolicited Advice
Unless you’re a personal trainer advising a client, let everyone else do their own thing. Most of us are self-conscious enough without having someone come up to us to give advice that may or may not even be right, so don’t be that person. If you see someone doing something flagrantly wrong that could harm them or someone else around them, find an employee and let them handle it.
Do: Use Proper Form
This one’s easier said than done, but that doesn’t make it any less essential. Many a would-be gym rat has injured his- or herself by not only doing too much, too fast but also doing it wrong, leading to injuries that prevent them from returning. It’s a vicious cycle, which is why it’s so crucial that you focus on form before intensifying your workout regimen. Whether you need to watch instructional videos or ask a more experienced friend for tips.