Today I wanted to rewind a little bit and focus on the basics of the gym. Occasionally I forget that not everyone is comfortable with the gym environment. I’ll say “go ahead and pick up those dumbbells” to which a client will look at me with a blank stair. With so much equipment around they are left wondering what the heck is a dumbbell?!?! This is only one example of how confusing the gym can often be. So here are some guidelines on what is in thy gym, what its for, and some common courtesy practices that everyone should be utilizing.
Free weights/dumbbells: For all you Cary O2 members, these are the weights in front of the mirrors that range from 5lbs to 130lbs. These weights can be used for a wide variety of exercises and are extremely dynamic. Make sure you start with a low weight when trying a new exercise. Generally you should be able to do 8-12 repetitions with a given weight to keep it safe.
Olympic bar/barbell: This tool is commonly thought of when describing the bench press. All of the large barbells in the gym are 45lbs, with the smaller ones ranging in weight. These tools can be use in a wide variety of exercises including squats, lunges, shoulder presses, rows, curls and a whole lot more.
Plates and clips: These tools are commonly used with the barbell to increase resistance. The weight plates range from 2.5lbs to 45lbs and are placed in equal amounts on either side of the barbell. For safety reasons you should always secure the plates with clips (they look like springs).
Kettlebells: These are the strange looking weights that are scattered around the gym. They look like an iron blob with a handle on the top ranging from 10lbs to 60lbs. Some common exercises done include the kettlebell swing, squat press, or high pull. Just make sure that you are in a safe place where no passers by will get hit when you are performing these exercises.
Now lets talk gym etiquette. Etiquette can be a problem wherever you go in life, but at the gym there are few basic rules that we all should abide by.
1. Have an idea of what your workout will be so that you don’t end up “hogging” equipment. Spending in hour on the squat rack (or doing exercises like bicep curls on the squat rack) is not cool. There are a lot of people looking to use that equipment so try and keep it short and sweet. This goes for all the equipment.
2. Carry a towel and wipe equipment down before and after use. If Seinfeld taught us anything its that no one likes to use sweaty equipment. At least give it a once over for the next user.
3. Put weights (or any equipment used for that matter) back when you’re done. It’s really not that hard to put things back where you found them. I’m sure we have all been in the situation where we couldn’t find what we wanted to use because some Bozo left it across the room. It’s a group effort to make this happen, so feel free to call out perpetrators when you spot them 😉
4. It’s OK to share. Going back to the squat rack scenario, if you see someone waiting to use the rack, offer to let them use it while you’re resting between sets. If someone is using the squat rack and you’re waiting on them to finish up, simply ask if it’s cool to work in with them. Not only are most gym goers happy to share, they are often likely to help spot you as well. Not to mention it creates a great way to meet new people and make new friends. This concept, again, goes for any equipment or machine you are using.
5. It’s OK to ask. Have you every seen a machine, piece of equipment, exercise, or group class and realize “I have no idea what that is”. Well you’re not alone. There is lot’s to discover at the gym, and it’s always okay to ask a professional. Between the trainers, group instructors, and gym staff, we’ve got you covered. Not to mention we are all friendly and can give you the right advice the first time.