January is often the busiest month at gyms and fitness centers. After all, many people made New Year’s Resolutions to get in shape, lose weight, etc. And that’s great! Getting active and working out is good for you in so many ways, helping with blood pressure, metabolism, sleep cycles, and of course, weight maintenance or loss. The problem arises when people don’t understand gym etiquette – and there is such a thing! When new gym-goers leave messes behind them or are inconsiderate of others, they can build up ill will without even knowing why. So, before you make enemies by accident, read through for some simple rules on gym etiquette and manners.

1. Clean Up After Yourself

How would you feel if you got on an elliptical machine only to find the handles covered in someone else’s sweat? Or let’s say you wanted to lift some free weights, only to discover the dumbbells strewn all across the floor – frustrating, right? Remember that other people want to use the same facilities that you do, and that they have a right to find it clean and usable, just like you do. Many gyms offer towel service, and those that don’t often have paper towel dispensers near the machines. Be sure to wipe down all surfaces you’ve touched, put equipment back where you found it, and dispose of your towels properly.

2. Don’t Be Rude in Class

Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, there’s a reason you’re taking the class and not teaching it – the instructor is the one in charge, and you should respect that. If you can’t keep up, it’s fine to take a breather, but don’t skip ahead or break from the class for no reason. You aren’t the only one in the class, so be respectful of the others and your instructor. (This includes showing up on time and staying through the whole class!)

3. Don’t Hog the Equipment

Many gyms have rules on how long one can use a piece of cardio equipment, so be sure to adhere to those rules.  If the time limit is half an hour, don’t set it for 60 minutes – other people want to use that equipment, and making them wait longer isn’t fair. The same goes for the weight machines – it’s great that today is your “leg day”, but there are other machines besides the leg press, so make use of those as well.

4. Don’t Spread Your Germs

Yes, a light workout once you’re getting over your cold can help you recover faster. But that doesn’t mean you should go to the gym and sneeze on all the equipment there! Work out at home or outside until you’re fully over your illness. And since colds can incubate for a few days before symptoms manifest, be sure that you’re practicing good hygiene at the gym. Wash your hands, use hand sanitizer, and wipe down the equipment you use. You don’t want your fellow gym-goers referring to you as Typhoid Mary!

Those are my main pieces of advice for gym etiquette. Remember, the staff and trainers are there to help – if you have a question or concern, check with them first! Now, put these manners into practice – and good luck with your resolutions!

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