Gym Etiquette Guidelines for Everyone

I recently read an article on gym etiquette for “Newbies”, but the fact is that plenty of long-time members need a refresher course as well. Why should we be concerned with etiquette? If everyone followed these simple guidelines, it would make our experience (and those around us) safer and much more positive. As a Fitness Director and Personal Trainer for over 33 years, here’s my list:
Leave no trace. 

wipedown equipment

If you sweat on equipment, disinfect and wipe it down when you’re finished. More than passing on germs, it’s just gross.

If you loaded plates on, take them off when you’re done. Not everyone uses your same weight and forcing them to unload your weight in order to use the machine is thoughtless.

If you took out equipment, i.e. dumbbells, medicine balls, tubing, jump ropes, etc., put them back when you’re done. When things are not put back, it can take forever to locate them.

If you’re going to use chalk, clean it up afterward. Chalk dust can get on everything and get tracked everywhere.

Getting Personal

Wear approprite clothing. Wear comfortable clothing that covers the essentials. Nobody wants to see all of your parts no matter how hot you think you are.

Don’t smell. If it’s body odor, take shower, if it’s perfume or cologne, think again. Even if you mean to smell good, you won’t to everyone. Strong smells of any kind can be upsetting.

Watch your language. No matter what your social circle may find acceptable language, please be aware that you’re in mixed company. Assume your grandmother is on the piece of equipment next to you.

Grunting and shouting. I’ve been a power lifter and weightlifter and I’m not against a little grunting under heavy loads. But, when you’re scaring the person next to you and can be heard across the room, it’s time to bring the volume down.

Banging and/or dropping weights. First, like shouting, it can be very distracting to others. Second, it can damage the equipment. If you bang dumbbells together it can splinter metal (depending on the dumbbell) and if you drop them it can bend the handles. If you can pick it up with control, you can put it down with control.

Be aware of your space. clear zone

Don’t sit on equipment if you aren’t using it. Others are probably waiting to use it.

If someone is waiting to use the piece of equipment you’re on and you are doing multiple sets, let them work in if you can. Visa versa, if someone is doing multiple sets on a piece that you’re waiting for, ask if you can work in.

Don’t block access to equipment by exercising too close to it. Whether it’s doing dumbbell curls standing in front of the dumbbell rack or crunches done in front of the chest press machine.

Don’t block walkways. Safety… ‘nuf said.

Don’t exercise too close to others. There’s nothing more unsettling than thinking that you might get hit by the jump rope or medicine ball of the person next to you.

Don’t sit on equipment if you aren’t using it, Others are probably waiting to use it.
That’s all I have right now. With all of these guidelines, “do this’, “don’t do that”, it may sound complex, but it really all boils down to being courteous to others. Treat others as you would like to be treated and we’ll all be able to enjoy are time at the gym more.
If you have some other guidelines, I’d love to have you post them in the comments below.
Best wishes, Mark

02/03/2013 at 6:49 PM Leave a comment

Resolutions Already Failing? Micromanage Them!

It is January 20th and already people are starting to give up on their fitness/weight loss resolutions. Why is that? Why do so many people start every year with great intentions and yet find their goals too difficult to attain? Often times, goals are set without an action plan. And, beyond having a plan, you may need to break that down into micro steps that you can manage more easily.


Here is how to start to micromanage one of your resolutions:

Resolution #1 “GET TO THE GYM”

That starts as a statement without a plan. So, let’s make a plan for it. First, ask yourself what this means. Get to the gym to do what and how often? What if you don’t know what to do? Then find out. Get a personal trainer to create a personalized program for you and help you set a schedule. Is that it? This still may not be enough to get you going. Let’s go micro…

Look online and find a convenient club to go to.

Call the club and set an appointment to see the facility during a time of day when you are likely to be able to go once you’ve started.

Go to the appointment, see the club. If you like it and they have a trainer to help you get started, sign up NOW! Going home to think about it can put off your start for weeks, if not for another year.

Set an appointment with a trainer to help you get started.

Put that appointment in your calendar.

Ask yourself what you will need for that 1st appointment (i.e. workout clothes, sneakers, towel, etc.)

Pack your gym clothes, etc. the night before the appointment (you may even want to put it in your car the night before).

Plan your breakfast for appointment day and then set it out/gather it together before you go to bed.

On the day, go to the appointment and get a plan to attain your goals.

So, hopefully, you can see how to take a resolution statement like “GET TO THE GYM” and break that down to micromanage it. This not only helps you think through all the steps necessary, but also will allow you to see the successes you are having as you check off each micro step you take toward making your goals happen.

01/20/2013 at 10:16 AM Leave a comment

The Truth About Cellulite

Cellulite is the lumpy, bumpy appearance that many women get on their thighs, abdomen, and buttocks. It has been one of the biggest concerns that has generated a ton of so-called remedies. What causes cellulite and what can be done to get rid of it? Let me try to clarify these questions for you.

Cellulite is caused by the structure of the subcutaneous fat (below the skin). The connective tissue that separates areas of fat, or “chambers”, are rigid and as fat increases it pushes upward it creates a lumpy appearance. It’s sort of like how the ties in a futon mattress creates dimples as they pull downward helping the mattress hold it’s structure. Contributing factors to an individual having cellulite may include: hormonal factors, genetics, diet, lifestyle factors (i.e. smoking), tight restrictive clothing, and weight gain.

So, naturally, with a problem that effects so many, the search for a “cure” for cellulite has created a massive market of potions, rubs, and treatments. Millions of dollars are spent each year on these products/treatments with very disappointing results as a whole. Most show no real change in appearance while others show minimal changes that only last as long as the product use is continued.

Can nothing be done? While there is no definitive answer, the most effective means of decreasing or getting rid of cellulite is to gradually lose total body fat (there is no spot reduction) and to increase muscle in the affected areas (which creates a firmer, more appealing shape).

Want more information? Here are some great resources:

Cellulite: Everything You Want to Know and More By Len Kravitz, Ph.D.
 Is Cellulite Forever? by Katherine Harmon for Scientific American
“Cellulite” Removers by Stephen Barrett, M.D. for 

08/04/2012 at 8:47 AM Leave a comment

Are You Treading Water in Your Health and Fitness?

Every day I see club members come in, do their routine (the same one they’ve been doing for years), and leave. The workout never changes and neither do their bodies. What is that about? Don’t they know that, “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.” -Tony Robbins ?

Treading Water

To those folks, let me first say good for you for doing something. That’s better than most. But, are you so easily satisfied? Have you reached where you want to be or have you resigned yourself to the thought that it’s as good as it’s going to get?

Most people can reach their goals as long as they realize that it takes work (if it didn’t, you’d be there by now, right?). It takes working at the right things (some activities, while we may believe they are helping, might not be), and it takes a plan of progression. You can’t keep doing the same program and continue getting the same results as when you started (your body adapts and needs new stimulation/challenges to continue adapting).

So, are you still getting results or are you simply treading water? Is it time for you to change up what you’re doing? If you need help with a new program, seek it out, but don’t settle for merely OK when you can achieve your dream.

Best wishes, Mark Nutting

05/20/2012 at 9:03 AM Leave a comment

Top 10 Benefits of Small Group Training

Small Group Training (SGT), or semi-private training (usually 2-10 participants) is rapidly becoming one of the hottest trends in the fitness industry. In fact, IHRSA (International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association) listed SGT as the #5 in their list of top health club trends for 2012.

There are some very good reasons why SGT is becoming so popular. Here’s my top 10 benefits (in no particular order). SGT offers:
1. More personal attention – While Group Exercise offers many benefits, the instructors are not always able to see and correct each individual class member.
2. More economical – Personal Training provides the most personal attention and greatest opportunity to succeed. Some people, however, may find that SGT fits into their budget better and still gives them the attention they need.
3. Variety – By working with a knowledgeable fitness professional, your workouts will change/evolve as you progress, preventing hitting a plateau and boredom.
4. Camaraderie – Let’s face it, workouts love company. Sharing the workout enhances the experience for participants.
5. Motivation – Having someone exercising right beside you can push you a little harder than you might do on your own.
6. Support – Both the Trainer and other participants are there to help you get through the challenges of the workout and the obstacles in life.
7. Greater focus – There’s no time to let your mind wander with a Trainer keeping tight programming and watching your every move.
8. Fun – Yes, fun. The right exercise program done with friends can definitely be fun.
9. Adherence – Research shows that members that are involved in programs are more likely stick with it. With all of the previously listed benefits, how could you not want to keep coming back?
10. Results – When you stick with a well constructed program, you will get the results.

So, Small Group Training, this missing link between Group Exercise and One on One Personal Training, may be the answer to helping you reach your goals in 2012. Give it a try.

01/22/2012 at 2:09 PM 3 comments

We Are All Weird. Why Try to Fit the Average Mold?

Currently I’m reading We Are All Weirdby Seth Godin and, while it’s essentially a marketing book, it made me think of all products people buy that are not really what they want or need. The fact is we ARE all weird whether we want admit it or not. And that simply means that nobody is exactly like anyone else. We all have individual lives with unique problems and circumstances.

Relating this to health and fitness, we all have our own particular goals and personal issues in reaching those goals. Health and fitness products for the masses include fad diets, supplements, exercise videos, etc. They don’t deal with the obstacles that confront you as an individual on a daily basis. The results are never as good as they could be because the product was made for the hypothetical average person, not you.

 So , why is it that we tend to buy the products that target the masses? Convenience is certainly one reason, as is price. It’s easy to knock off a product when there’s no personalization needed. Many people also like to believe they are like everyone else. They want to be normal. But let’s face it. There’s no cookie cutter for people and wouldn’t life be boring if there was?

Where does that leave us when we seek to reach our own individual goals with our own individual set of obstacles? Seek out personalization and, yes, pay a little more to get it right. That goes for hiring a personal trainer, registered dietitian (RD), life coach, business coach, etc.

Wouldn’t it be worth it to finally get what is right for you in all your weirdness?

Best wishes in the new year, Mark

01/08/2012 at 10:16 AM Leave a comment

Cheat Days May Be Cheating You

I’m sure that you’ve heard the dieting concept of having cheat days. These are days that are set aside that allow you to eat what you want. In example, you work hard at your diet all week, but on Saturday you can eat whatever you desire. The theory is that it’s easier to stay away from high calorie/high fat foods most of the time if you know that you can guiltlessly have it on your cheat day.

While that may sound reasonable, being better most of the time (and it certainly could help some people), here’s why I take issue with it. If you’re having a difficult time sticking to your diet, it may be too restrictive for where you are in your journey for lifetime eating and healthy weight maintenance. It should be a gradual process of tweaking you diet and exercise so that it’s not overwhelming.

My other problem with cheat days is that, like my post on artificial sweeteners, it keeps you desiring those less healthy foods. You can change what you desire by making small, better choices over time. Like going from whole milk to 2%, to 1.5%, to 1%, to skim. By the time you get used to skim milk, 2% tastes like cream and you don’t care about ever having whole milk again… no cheating even wanted.

So, while having a cheat day may help you lose weight, Id challenge you to simply be more gradual with your changes so that sustaining them becomes effortless.

11/09/2011 at 7:34 AM Leave a comment

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