The fitness center in the pool house at Brunswick Crossing is a great place to workout when you’re looking to sculpt that beach bod, shed a few pounds, or build some strength. But the gym can be an intimidating place for those who are new to fitness centers or exercising in general.
It might feel like there is a “secret code of conduct” when it comes to working out at a fitness center that is shared by others in your community. But, in reality, these best practices aren’t so secret and only require the use of some common sense.
So don’t let being a workout novice deter you from getting your fitness on.
1. Be Aware of Your Surroundings. Think of moving around a fitness center almost like driving carefully. Be sure to give people plenty of space while they’re performing exercises so that you avoid disrupting their form and getting smacked by a dumbbell. Walking obliviously through a fitness center can result in accidents and injuries, so be sure to be aware of your surroundings at all times.
It is also a fitness center best practice to not block mirrors while you’re working out. Whether it’s to monitor their form or just admire their own results, people like looking in the mirror at the gym. Why do you think most fitness center walls are lined with mirrors? But standing in front of someone’s line of sight as they’re working out in front of a mirror is a rude gym gesture.
Part of being aware of your surroundings at the gym also includes asking others around you if the equipment is being used by them before you start your set. You don’t want to steal someone’s equipment or machine just because they walked away for a second to get a drink of water.
2. Read Your Fitness Center Rules. This might seem like an obvious tip, but take a look around your fitness center and see if there are any rules posted. If so, be sure to abide by these rules so that you’re making it a wonderful workout experience for all.
The rules are posted for a reason. Some things that are OK at one gym might not be allowed at another. By familiarizing yourself with your gym’s rules, you can answer questions like: Is chalking your hands allowed? Is there a dress code/footwear requirement? Is there a policy on grunting/making noise? What level of cell phone use is permitted?
Keep in mind, it doesn’t matter if you agree with the “house rules” or not, they should be followed if you want to use a fitness center shared by a community.
3. Take Care of Equipment. If you want to be able to keep coming back to the fitness center and get the same kind of workout, it’s important to take care of the equipment that’s available. Slamming or dropping weights as you finish sets is not good practice and should be avoided so that you don’t damage or break the equipment.
Also be sure to wipe down equipment after use. Any area of the equipment that touches your skin should be wiped down with a towel. Many gyms have disinfectant spray and paper towels available for this purpose. Cleanliness can also add to the longevity of equipment.
When you’re done using weights or other equipment, make sure they are put away in their proper location. This not only will stop the fitness center from getting cluttered, it will also help others know where to find certain items they need to complete their workout.
4. Practice Proper Hygiene. Nobody wants to be the smelly person at the gym. It doesn’t really matter if you think you stink or not. Working out causes sweat, sweat causes body odor, body odor is not enjoyable for others. Be sure to wash your gym clothes after each use and wear deodorant. If you wear cologne or perfume, that’s OK, but use these odor-killers in moderation as they can be hard for others to inhale sometimes.
Part of practicing proper hygiene when working out also includes showering right after the gym. Showering as quickly as you can after a workout helps prevent skin infections commonly associated with gyms like ringworm or MRSA.
5. Warm-up/Stretch. It’s embarrassing and discouraging to have to cut a workout short because you were injured while exercising. Accidents happen, but you can avoid many common workout injuries by simply going through a thorough warm-up/stretch before you get into the heavy exercise.
You’ll just want to make sure you’re stretching in an area that isn’t in any walkways or someone else’s workout space. For most gyms, it’s fairly obvious where the warm-up/stretching area is (typically indicated by foam rollers and/or mats).
These tips aren’t just for those that are new to the gym. Regular fitness center visitors often disregard these best practices or just don’t know about them either. Regardless of your level of exercise experience, following the tips above will keep you on the right track and out of harm’s way.