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Despite being perfectly polite, considerate and tidy at work, sometimes – amid the music, the sea of barbells, the rush to get a workout done – our standards of behaviour can slip at the gym. Here’s a reminder on what matters while you’re working out, to make the gym a place you want to go and to ensure it’s safe, appealing and well-maintained for everyone else you share it with, staff included.

In group fitness classes

Arrive on time

First and foremost, this is a safety matter. Especially if you’re new or there’s an injury or condition your instructor should know about, it’s important to let them know a few minutes before class so they can provide advice and modifications as needed. It also means the class isn’t disrupted once it begins. Check out Fernwood's full range of classes here.

But if you’re late…

If you’re a regular to the class and work, traffic or an emergency has resulted in you arriving five minutes late, walk in quietly and close the door behind you. Set yourself up towards the back of the room where you’re not drawing attention from the instructor as they’re conducting the class.

Turn off your phone

If you can commit to an hour class, you also need to commit to an hour of phone-free living. For the benefit of yourself, the instructor and the rest of the class, put your phone on silent or turn it off altogether and leave it in the change room.

In the gym 

Wait your turn

If you’ve only got limited time and a routine you really want to stick to, it can be difficult to accept that the equipment you need is already in use. This is where educating yourself on how to use body weight and the other machines around the gym can be ideal. Sometimes when forced to do things differently, we discover better ways. If the barbells and cables are all in use, do some push-ups, planks or squats while you wait. Don’t hover and don’t glare – everyone has a right to use the equipment.

Use a towel to wipe down your equipment

Whether you’re prone to sweating madly, recovering from a cold or neither, it’s just good form to clean the equipment after you’ve used it. Consider how many people touch that bench or those weights and cables daily. If nobody wiped them down, they’d be a hive of bacteria. Do your bit and set the lead for the next person.

Keep your wisdom to yourself

You may have read a zillion textbooks or just the latest Fernwood magazine, and know all about the best technique for resistance bands. But unless you’ve been hired as someone’s personal trainer, pointing out where they’re going wrong or giving them your opinion on their technique just isn’t appropriate. If you feel someone is doing something dangerous or harmful to themselves or others, tell the staff and let them make the call on what to do. 

Lead by example

Consider how you want to be treated and how you want to feel when you’re in a communal space – whether it’s the gym or the workplace – and use that as a guide when making choices about what you say and do at the gym. While we can’t expect or force other people to change, we can set the standard as role models by holding true to our own code of conduct.

Interested in weight training? Check out this blog on the benefits of lifting weights.