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Gym Etiquette 2.0: Get Off My Rack - Printable Version

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Gym Etiquette 2.0: Get Off My Rack - 01dragonslayer - 09-10-2023

So as I am sitting here writing this piece, I am gazing over part one of Gym Etiquette and slowly becoming angry as I begin to read. No, not at my work, but at the thought of people who have done or do each and every one of the actions listed while in the gym. Also, as I skim through, I notice that last time we looked at less workout-interruptive things and did not discuss cases that are more threatening to one’s training session.
Here, instead of the failure to wipe down equipment or the use of a cell phone between sets, which will only spike a slight feeling of annoyance in most gym members, we’ll discuss things that can and will start a fire within experienced lifters—things that only those who truly understand gym etiquette will understand. Some may seem a little over the top, sure, but I am positive that many readers will have had similar experiences and wanted to explode on the person doing wrong. My goal for this piece is to enlighten those unaware of what is right and wrong, so let’s not waste anymore time…and begin.
1.)  Taking weights from a rack mid-lift.
Maybe I’m crazy, maybe I’m conceited…but maybe I’m just in demand of respect. When somebody is using a piece of equipment with plate racks on it, one MUST not remove anything from that rack when the other person is mid-lift. I can tell you from experience that if I am walking the bar out for a heavy set of squats and somebody comes into my site to take a plate off the rack less than five feet away from me, it gets in my head.
To give you a better example of why I think this is rude, disrespectful and just flat out wrong, think of the last time you went somewhere to eat. Did somebody come over to your table as you enjoyed your meal and take a napkin from your napkin dispenser? What would your reaction be? It is the same thing! As a matter of fact, it is worse, because when somebody is going for a heavy lift, all of his/her focus is on exactly that—the lift.
The last thing that somebody wants prior to getting in the hole, pulling or lowering the bar to the chest is a distraction. It messes with the mental state going into that set and can truly change the entire outcome. Going further, a slight distraction, or, worst-case scenario, a slight bump to the bar or movement of the rack could cause injury. And by injury, I don’t mean to the one lifting the weight…I mean the one that interfered!
2.)  Setting up too close to others.
Even if I am walking to class, shopping in a mall, out to eat or just simply doing whatever out in public, I have a personal space bubble. When I am in the gym, though (and I’m SURE most will agree) that bubble grows. If I am asking for a spot, need a lift or am training with a partner it is a different story, but in terms of other members, I value my area around where I am performing my exercise.
When the weight is in motion—heavy compound movement, isolation exercise or even a bodyweight exercise, I expect the next nearest lifter to leave adequate space between himself and I. Unless it is peak-hours in the gym and people are packed like sardines in the free-weight area, it is just wrong to be within reaching distance of another lifter.
There are multiple moving parts and, much like I mentioned before, there is a specific sized visual tunnel that people have mid-lift. Avoiding that vision isn’t easy, but with extra care, respect for other members and a little bit of patience, it can simply be done.
One other thing that must be mentioned within this subtopic is the getting in front of someone’s reflection. Mirrors are in the gym for the benefit of every member—check form, get in the right mental state and, well, admire that pump! Stepping directly in front of a lifter performing an incline dumbbell press to hit dumbbell curls six inches from the mirror…just don’t do it, ever.
3.)   Community chalk?
Now, if I had the group of daily gym goers from each gym that I attend on the regular (home and school) they would tell you that I am the first one to spot another person, first to offer my equipment and quick to let others use my Tupperware of chalk. With that said, know that it is either me offering OR them asking. Believe it or not, there have been multiple occasions where people have completely ignored the fact that somebody’s gym bag is right next to the container and dove right in to chalk up for a set.
Look, I understand that one block of chalk will last up to six months if used correctly, but is it that hard to ask? Like I said before, most lifters including myself would have no problem allowing another member to chalk up with their personal block, but not popping the, “Hey, is that yours? Can I use some?” before reaching in is just plain crazy and should never happen.
4.)  Stealing equipment.
Before I begin, understand that by stealing I don’t actually mean grabbing somebody else’s straps or belt and exiting the gym with intentions on keeping them. What do I mean? I mean when someone is clearly using the squat rack—he or she completed a set and walks away for a minute, has a bag of equipment lying next to it or is even standing nearby between sets, and someone begins to take the weights off of the bar. Are you blind?
I’m not the biggest fan of people that refuse to re-rack weights either, but that is only when their intention is to not return to the bar. I think it is rather obvious when somebody is not done with a piece of equipment and even if it isn’t, how hard is it to wait for that person to return, and then ask if it’s okay to remove the plates? I cannot even begin to tell you the amount of times I have left my rack to fill my water bottle or just use the bathroom, returned and realized that my last set was decided upon by somebody else.
This does not pertain to super-setting. If someone is super-setting bench press with chest-supported dumbbell row with two benches on separate sides of the gym, I have nothing against the claiming of either one. Using too much equipment at once for an extended period of time is one thing…but taking somebody else’s rack, that’s a violation.
5.)  Asking for a spot at the wrong time.
Am I the only one here? Honestly, there have been so many different occasions where I am either head-down bobbing to music pre-lift, hyping myself up before getting under the bar or, believe it or not, mid-curl/press/movement when somebody will approach and ask, “Yo, can I get a spot?” WHAT!?
Let’s be honest here; I would bet that over 50% of the time, people in the gym that ask for a spot don’t even need it OR shouldn’t be doing the amount of weight that is on the bar anyway. It either ends up being the spotter’s job to lift it or the spotter is simply a one-man audience to watch the lift take place. Is it really necessary to interrupt another person who is in his/her zone about to perform a set? It is blasphemy.
Wrapping Up
See, last time we took a look at beginner mistakes and more general in-public failures to act correctly. Today I wanted to look deeper into proper gym etiquette and uncover the things that some people might not even realize shouldn’t be done. Are some of these things ego-driven? Maybe, but doesn’t that have a lot to do with why we are in the gym in the first place? These violations affect others’ workouts and are disrespectful. Don’t be that guy in the gym—practice proper gym etiquette.