Most conscientious guys have stepped foot in the gym at some point with a sense of overwhelm. You might have been a regular for years, until your mate encourages you to attend a Crossfit class, then it's all self-conscious doubt. Or you may just be a rookie gym-goer with little to no clue on what lies beyond those doors.
Sometimes the feeling that others are watching and judging our every move is almost palpable; am I doing something incorrectly? Am I drenched in oblivion, brazenly doing some of the unspoken "don'ts" of the gym?
Let us put your fears at ease. Below is your starting point for gym etiquette and mistakes. Study, practise, share:
Thinking people care about what you're doing
This can be a debilitating one for many, thinking that others are judging you. They're in the same boat as you - just do your thing and move on. Same goes for thinking you're impressing people - no one cares what you're doing, just get it done.
Okay, so some D-bags actually do this. Don't. Instead encourage.
Respect others' space
This means actual space that they might be training in, and also bothering them when they're mid workout. Don't get too close, it could be dangerous, or really really annoying. Especially recognise when they're 'in the zone' - stay away. Think twice about interrupting someone.
This includes taking selfies, playing on your phone or almost any technology. You're in the gym to train, so put your third arm away and get the job done. Watch your rest and hogging of equipment too. This also goes for wasting the time of others with loud bro-banter that can be heard from the changing rooms. Just don't.
Don't be a hero
Again, no one cares that you're lifting heavy. A little forced exertion grunting is ok, but keep the overt labour screams for the maternity ward. Get the job done and avoid seeking validation from other gym-goers. This goes for dropping weights and generally making a scene to show how strong or 'tough' you are.
Put your weights/equipment away
The staff aren't your maids. If you move it, put it back.
Flashy is for infomercials only
The basics win, always. Don't go looking for or trying the weirdest newfangled 'Bosu ball-resistance band-through the legs handstand crunch-Zumba'. You do not impress anyone, nor are you being affective. See this post here for the basics.
Don't program hop from one thing to the next. Be consistent in your application of the basics, or specifics for you and have patience. Too many guys don't give something enough time to work.
Control your sweat
Never wear something again without washing that you sweated in on a previous training day. Don't be that guy who brings a stench to the gym. Clean your clothes! That goes for equipment too - wipe it down after you and use a towel so others don't have to indulge in your sweaty remains.
Don't be a narcissist
Mirrors are for technique assistance ONLY. Train, watch for technique cues if need be, but do everyone a favour and keep your mind on the job, not admiring your muscles. Doing this puts others off training close by, especially women.
As with anything in life, if you have questions - ASK - you'll be all the better off. If you're not sure about some aspects of the gym, ask someone who does, not the bro who seems to be in the best shape. Sometimes this guy knows the least...