OPINION: Basic decency extends to gym policy, too

It’s hard enough to break out of your comfort zone and start lifting weights at the gym. It’s even harder to do this when the environment at the gym isn’t welcoming. 


Twice recently at the Student Fitness Center, my gym buddy and I have experienced a man step in and take over the weightlifting station we were using, while briefly walking away to grab different weights, despite us leaving our things on the station and other stations being available.


While this may not sound like that big of a deal, it violates gym etiquette, and definitely sends the message that certain people are more entitled to use the equipment than others. It’s intimidating enough for me to be there as a small woman putting a less-than-impressive amount of weight on the bar, and instances such as these reinforce that anxiety. 


This is only one of many examples of poor gym etiquette I’ve noticed lately at the Student Fitness Center. Oftentimes, men doing deadlifts throw the weight down and make obnoxiously loud noises, another clear violation of gym etiquette. Again, this makes the weight room an uncomfortable place to be. It’s one thing to occasionally make an audible sound or grunt a bit while lifting heavy weights. It’s another to make caveman noises so loud everyone in the room can hear you, or throw the weight down so everyone knows just how tough and strong you are. No one’s clapping for you. 


Aside from being a glaring red flag, excessive yelling can pose a physical danger for others. Making such loud noises could distract or startle someone while they’re lifting, which increases their risk of injury. Additionally, if you actually need to make those noises, you’re pushing your limits too far and will likely hurt yourself. 


I also see far too many people enter the weight room that aren’t wearing their masks properly. I understand pulling your mask down briefly to get a drink of water, but there’s no excuse to wear it under your chin during your entire workout. 


A lot of my female friends avoid the gym for these reasons, and it doesn’t need to be that way. To make others feel more comfortable at the gym, common courtesy goes a long way. Simply ask if people are finished using the equipment, wear your mask properly, wipe the equipment when you’re finished and avoid any behaviors that would make someone uncomfortable: such as yelling, staring or offering unwanted advice. 


Furthermore, the gym monitors need to do more to enforce gym etiquette. They should periodically check the weight room to make sure that everyone is wearing a mask and wiping the equipment, and step in if someone is being a jerk. A lunk alarm like Planet Fitness has, that sounds off if someone makes too much noise, could also be effective. 


We all start working out feeling a bit self-conscious and unsure of ourselves even gym bros. It’s important to remember that feeling, and create an environment that doesn’t exacerbate it. Everyone is there with the goal of self-improvement and deserves to pursue that comfortably. 


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