Dear New Gym Member,
I appreciate that you are including weight training as part of your strategy for meeting your health-related New Year's Resolution. You have made the right choice: being fit also means being strong, in both mind and body, and weight training will help you get there. I wish you the best of luck as you proceed on your journey, and hope that you stick with it.
However, on behalf of your fellow gym members, I respectfully ask the following:
1) Please don't camp out on a piece of equipment between sets. You can finish that "Self" or "ESPN" magazine article while you are on the elliptical. It's polite to allow people to work in (i.e., do a set on the equipment while you are resting), and it's even more polite to move off the equipment while you are resting so that they can don't have to ask you to move.
2) At the same time, it's polite to allow someone who is doing a timed workout to finish the sets they need to do on a piece of equipment. These lifters, often but not exclusively cross-fitters, are easy to recognize: they are the ones who rush from exercise to exercise -- usually free or body weight exercises -- without breaks and with purple faces. Some wear funny shoes that look like a cross between your kid's water shoes and a pair of gloves. Others are trailed by goats.
3) If you move a piece of equipment, please don't move it in the way of another lifter. For example, yesterday, that bench that you didn't want in your squat cage? It was rude to move it so close to my cage that I couldn't add plates to my bar or do a full squat without hitting the bench. It was just plain obnoxious, not to mention dangerous, to deposit it next to my cage *while* I was in the middle of a heavy set.
4) Please remember that other lifters need some space to complete their range of motion. If you casually saunter in front of the hanging leg raise station while you are fiddling with your ipod, you may disrupt someone's workout... or get kicked. Many seated leg press machines swing outward. People swing upward on back extensions. And so on. Do your own thing, but also be aware and attentive to what's going on around you.
5) Please don't sneeze on the equipment. And, wipe it down after you use it, sneeze or no sneeze. If you're sick, stay home.
6) Perfume / cologne intensifies when the wearer sweats. There is no need to reapply perfume in the locker room before you go work out. "Spicy" scents, in particular, smell about as attractive as the four-week old Indian food I forgot was in my fridge. Both induce strong gag reflexes.
7) If you are strong enough to lift a weight, you are strong enough to put it away. This goes for barbell plates as well as dumbbells.
8) Most gyms don't have enough space to accommodate lifters who travel in packs. If six of you are hanging around a bench while one lifts, the adjacent equipment is likely unusable. Besides, if there are more than three of you sharing a bench, you are resting too long between sets.
9) If your gym has a no cell-phone rule, respect it. If your gym doesn't have a cell phone rule, please respect it anyway.
10) You have just as much right to the equipment as other lifters, no matter their size or shape. You don't have more right to the equipment than other lifters. Take turns, share, and be considerate.
11) Tricep kickbacks are a waste of time. You're free to waste your time if you like, of course, but I thought I'd mention it anyway.
I'll see you at the gym!