Right when you walk into the gym at the Rec Center it is clear that there is a gender divide. Typically the men are towards the right in the free weight and bench press area, while the women are towards the left with the aerobic equipment and assisted weight machines. Unfortunately, it seems out of the norm when an individual of the opposite gender crosses over into that other section. This subtle move takes a lot of confidence and should be applauded!
When you go to the gym to improve your health and, it should only be about you, no one else. Don’t worry about how you may look or if you think other gym-goers may be judging you. Think about how great you are going to feel and look after you have completed the work out. One way to feel more comfortable if you are new to the free weight area or just the gym in general, you should be aware of some proper gym etiquette.
What is gym etiquette? This includes sharing equipment in between sets. If someone is just sitting resting on a bench or assisted weight machine do not be afraid to ask if you can rotate in with them. This not only gives them a chance to rest, but it may also help you stay on track. Giving your muscles enough time to rest in between sets to helps prevent fatigue. The amount of time you should rest is typically around 60 seconds, but it should all be gauged on how you feel and how long the person you are working in with may be taking. Working in with another person can also be done with free weights by putting them down on the ground as a gesture that someone else may pick them up. There are a limited number of free weights that are the same weight so it is helpful to share.
The only piece of equipment that it is not advised to rotate in with others is a barbell that is stacked with weights that are personalized for you. Be sure you remove the added weights from the barbell after you have completed your workout to prevent anyone from potentially getting hurt. When removing weight it is important to put it back where you found it because it cannot be assumed that everyone can lift the same amount of weight that you can. If you decide to leave dumbbells on the floor between sets, it is safest to crisscross them to prevent them from moving.
Other tips include wiping down the equipment after you have used it, especially if you tend to sweat a lot, and making a note not the hog the water fountain. For other tips and tricks check out Mastering Gym Etiquette for Dummies and FitSugar.