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The dos and don'ts of weight room gym etiquette

Sarah Stolp

by

Health & Fitness

Sarah Stolp is a busy mom, Co-Founder of CanIEatHere.com, a health enthusiast, celiac disease advocate, nutritionist, group exercise instructor and personal trainer.

Regular strength training increases your metabolism, lowers your risk of developing many chronic diseases and builds the necessary muscle required for both posture and chasing after kids. Starting a weight training program can be intimidating, especially for women.

Many women avoid the weight room out of concern for looking foolish or insecurities about lifting weights in a room filled with men. Ladies, it's time to overcome your fears and take charge of your health. As a guideline, here is a list of the dos and don'ts of weight room gym etiquette.

  1. First and foremost, don't be intimidated. Many women avoid the weight room because they are intimidated by lifting weights in an area often filled with men. Whether you are lifting 5-pound weights or 25-pound weights, be confident and proud you are taking care of your body. Believe me when I say most of the men are too busy looking at themselves in the mirrors to even notice you're there.
  2. Do clean up after yourself. Put weights back when you are done with them, put your dirty towels in the towel bin and wipe down any equipment you've used. Often there are only one or two people on duty to pick up the weight area and they can't be everywhere at once. Weights, towels and water bottles left out pose a hazard to other gym members and staff. Very few things are more disgusting than sitting on a weight bench or exercise ball to discover it's wet with someone else's sweat. Be courteous and use disinfecting wipes or spray on any equipment you use.
  3. Do dress appropriately. I'm not body shaming. You work hard and want to show off your body. I get it, but the gym isn't the place to do so. Gyms are a breeding ground for cold and flu germs, MRSA and staphylococcus bacteria. Wearing very short shorts or a sports bra with no shirt exposes a greater area of skin to these dangerous bacteria. Be sure any small scratches or open wounds are covered to lower your risk of contracting these bacteria and viruses.
  4. Do consider hiring a personal trainer. Improper form and unbalanced training methods greatly increase the likelihood of injury. Even people who have been working out for years should hire a personal trainer to check their form and monitor for any muscle imbalances. If it's not in your budget to hire a personal trainer for recurring sessions, consider booking one or two sessions every three months. Personal trainers can create a custom plan for you to follow as well as give you corrections and notes on your form. Booking a session every few months is a great way to monitor your progress and learn new exercises to avoid plateau or injury.
  5. Don't hog the machines. During your rest period or when you are exercising a different body part, let other people work-in with you. They can use the machine while you are recovering between sets and you can use it when they are. Note: When you are sharing equipment, be sure to use a towel or wipe to clean off the seat or bench after you are done. You don't want to sit in or wipe up a stranger's sweat and they certainly don't want to sit on or clean up yours.
  6. Do find a workout buddy. Finding a workout buddy is a great way to stay motivated and build confidence in an area in which you may feel insecure. Workout buddies can make your workouts more enjoyable. Squats and planks are more fun when you have someone to chat with. You can even book a session for the two of you with a personal trainer to help keep you on track or write up your plan.
Before starting a new fitness program, be sure to consult with your physician.
Image: Edson Hong via Flickr
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