- Of 2,000 people polled, 74% thought gym goers had bad gym etiquette
- Trainers share their list of some of the biggest offenders at the gym
- Hoarders and exhibitionists are among the top 10
You've made the honorable effort of getting your butt to the gym. Little do you know, the battle has only just begun.
Claiming your space for high-intensity intervals, handstands and heavy lifts isn't easy -- and during peak hours, there's a real art to getting fit in close quarters. But on the road to slimming down, leaning out, or getting swole, are you leaving behind a trail of destruction (alongside a pool of sweat on the bench)?
According to a survey conducted by Nuffield Health, a U.K.-based health firm, the answer may be yes. Of the 2,000 people polled, 74% said fellow gym goers were guilty of bad gym etiquette, and many implicated themselves as well: 49% admitted to having used water bottles and towels that weren't actually theirs; 33% revealed they exercise without deodorant; 18% fessed up to working out despite coughing, sneezing and being sick; and 16% flat-out said they don't wash their clothes between workouts.
Skeeved out? Us too.
But don't throw in the towel just yet. In an effort to make your box, studio or sports club a friendlier, safer and all-around-more-awesome place to be, we called in some of the top trainers in the country to weigh in on proper workout decorum.
While this list is by no means exhaustive, it hits on some of the deadliest sins in sweatsville. So who are the worst offenders?
The gym's most wanted list
1. The Hoarder
Need one of everything, in every size, shape and color? Health club hoarders aren't unlike the ones you see on reality TV. "They stand in the same spot in front of the mirror with a collection of dumbbells in every weight around them and swear they're using them all -- while doing 10 different exercises," says Max Tapper, personal trainer at The Sports Center at Chelsea Piers. How to avoid stockpiling? "Make circuits small and only take the weights you will need immediately," Tapper says.
2. The Not-So-Supersetter
Supersetting (i.e. alternating between two or more exercises at a time) is a fantastic way to maximize your time, and your burn. It's also a fantastic way to make some gy-nemies during peak lifting hours. Claiming "dibs" on multiple areas of the gym not only ties up two pieces of real estate at once, it forces others to wait and ask around if someone's still there. "If you're using more than one piece of equipment, make sure you're close to them at all times," says fitness coach JC Deen of JCD Fitness. Walk away for more than 15 to 30 seconds, and most people will assume you're done, Deen says. "Supersetting is a luxury, not a necessity," adds strength coach and author Bret Contreras. Bottom line: "If the gym is busy, don't superset!"
3. The Spoiled Brat
Blame growing up with nannies, butlers and maids. For some, cleaning up after themselves isn't second nature, which means stray kettlebells, plates and other gym essentials not in their proper place. "It's pretty self-explanatory, but it sucks when you're rushing to get in a workout and you spend half the time looking for the dumbbell or medicine ball you need," says Dan Trink, C.S.C.S., strength coach and owner of Trink Fitness. Avoid timeout by returning your equipment back where it belongs.
4. The Exhibitionist
When you're pushing through that last round of v-ups or sled sprints, distractions can be a very good thing. But people-watch at your own risk. According to Jordan Syatt, five-time world record powerlifter, strength coach and owner of SyattFitness.com, overexposure (including "working out sans underwear") is more common than you'd think. "I'm all for giving yourself some extra breathing room, but for your sake -- and everyone around you -- make sure you strap on a decent pair of undies."
The same goes for shirts at certain boxes and gyms. "We have a shirts-on policy for men and women," says Kelly Starrett, coach and founder of San Francisco CrossFit. "As a practical matter, it keeps people's sweat from dripping all over our gym. More importantly, the gym should be a place that feels welcoming and inclusive, and not a place the few super jacked people can show off their six-packs."
5. The Miley
We're just minding our own business at the pull-up bar, and in comes the wrecking ball -- music blaring from their over-ear headphones, singing full-voice for all to hear. Is it Miley, just being Miley? Unlikely. "Singing in the gym it is not only distracting to gym members, it's flat-out annoying!" says Michelle Lovitt, celebrity trainer and fitness expert. "Sing in your head or in the shower so the only person you're distracting is yourself."
6. The Pick-Up Artist
Want to gawk? Swipe right. For all other inquiries, keep it respectable. Leering men aren't just creepy, they're "one of the biggest reasons women tell me they're intimidated by the weight room," says Adam Rosante, fitness and wellness coach, and author of The 30-Second Body. "If you see someone who really catches your attention, try to make eye contact at an appropriate time -- not mid back squat -- and smile. If she smiles back, wait until she's done crushing it to say hello. If she blows you off, move on. You can go run 10 minutes of intervals to alleviate the sting."
7. The Talker
Up to 32 percent of gym rats admit to regularly interrupting their session to chat it up with friends. Sure, that's OK for a recovery day, but most workouts should involve some amount of work. "If you're able to carry on a full conversation while on the treadmill, you aren't doing it right!" says Anja Garcia, DailyBurn and Equinox trainer. Gossip can wait -- and for the 24/7 gabbers, cell phone calls should never take place on a moving conveyor belt (trust us). "It's important to dedicate time to yourself, your fitness and your health." Garcia says. Leaving distractions behind can be the difference between a phenomenal workout, and a face plant.
8. The Texter
Emojis can't type themselves -- at least not yet. And mid-workout, those minutes scouring your smart phone can really add up, taking a toll on focus, productivity and intensity (read: calorie burn). According to a survey conducted by Harpers Fitness, a typical gym-goer wastes up to 35 percent of each sweat session on non-fitness activities including texting, checking email, and scrolling through apps. To avoid shortchanging yourself, put your mobile into airplane mode and plug back in once you have that post-workout shake in hand.
9. The Drama Queen
Drop it like it's hot? That depends. If Olympic weightlifting (on an Olympic platform) is your thing, by all means, go for it. But at most commercial gyms that aren't properly equipped, dropping your weights can be deemed dangerous, disruptive and downright unnecessary. "At the end of a very heavy set [it's] sometimes unavoidable," says Sean Hyson, C.S.C.S., Training Director for Men's Fitness magazine and author of The Truth About Strength Training. "But if you see a guy doing it repeatedly, he's either desperate for attention or very careless. Dropping dumbbells can damage them, as well as the floor beneath, and abruptly dropping a barbell can warp the bar, causing it to bend. Bent bars make loads unstable to lift and can cause injuries." We're all for lifting heavy, but be aware of your gym's policy (Planet Fitness, we know where you stand), and avoid unleashing the beast with every. single. rep.
10. The Know-It-All
Dole out unsolicited advice and you're bound to push buttons. "I see it happen a lot at various gyms I train at, and have yet to witness anyone who appreciates a total stranger giving them advice that they didn't even ask for," says Tony Gentilcore, CSCS, co-founder of Cressey Sports Performance in Hudson, MA.
"There are a million reasons why a trainer — or non-trainer — might be doing something, and presuming that you know why they're doing it is condescending," says Jessi Kneeland [http://jessikneeland.com/], strength coach and creator of Remodel Fitness. "If you must get involved, simply ask them why they're doing it that way. They may be clueless and actually ask for help — in which case go for it! But they may also have a special-case reason for doing something unusual, that you might never have thought of," she says.