With January in full swing, there’s one infallible truth: everyone’s at the gym. With health club memberships reaching an all-time high of 54.1 million in 2015, and with another 9.3 million new people taking over your favorite gyms across the country every year, things are bound to feel a little cramped. Whether you’re annoyed or welcoming of newbies and begrudgingly returning members, you’ve got no choice: You’re just going to have to make room for them.
And while, yes, the gym tends to slow down by mid-February, when many resolutioners lose steam, it’ll still be plenty busy well into summer. So don’t let the lack of space cramp your style: in fact, you can slip in and out without being noticed if you follow these trainer-backed tips. (And if you’re still set on staying home, Daily Burn has you covered.)
11 Ways to Stay Cool at a Really Crowded Gym
1. Don’t take someone else’s mirror space. If someone is positioned directly in front of the mirror it’s probably because, um, they’re using it. Maybe they want to check themselves out (and catch you checking them out!), but it’s likely because using a mirror helps with form. “When I work out facing the mirror, I’m looking for alignment, positioning and range of motion,” says Holly Rilinger, a certified personal trainer, master instructor at Flywheel Sports and star of the Bravo show Work Out New York. When you park yourself in front of someone else, you’re probably wrecking their workout to get yours in. So just like inside a gym class, stagger yourself behind whoever is in front, so you’re not directly in their view.
2. Limit the amount of equipment you use. We all know high-intensity training will give you the most bang for your buck, but don’t be that person who monopolizes the dumbbells, kettlebells and resistance bands all at the same time. “Everyone is annoyed; it kind of looks like you don’t know what you’re doing if you’re using so much at once,” says Rilinger. Follow her strategy to make the most of your session and use as little equipment as possible. Pick 5 to 10 exercises where you can use the same piece of equipment for different moves. For one day of the week, use the TRX and mix in some bodyweight moves, then try the kettlebell or dumbbells during your next visits. You’re getting the same workout, minus all the confusion of what equipment is up next — and you’re spreading the wealth of equipment to everyone else, too.
3. Equate headphones with “Do Not Disturb.”People wear headphones at the gym for more reasons than getting pumped up with a solid playlist (here are seven playlists we swear keep us going when we need the extra boost most). “Often times, wearing headphones is like hanging a sign around your neck that says CLOSED,” says Rilinger. “So you’re going to piss someone else if you start tapping them on the shoulder to chat or ask questions.” Unless a headphoned gym buddy chats with you first, best to keep any conversation to yourself — or with someone who’s willing to talk about their form.
4. Only use one locker. Trainer Hannah Davis, founder of Gotham Personal Training in New York City, gripes when she sees someone take up multiple lockers. “There’s nothing more annoying when the gym gets busy and you decide to take several lockers. It can be a real pain in the butt for the rest of us [who then] have to carry our stuff around the gym floor,” she says. Cue another pet peeve of Davis’s: Don’t carry all of your belongings around with you. Square footage matters, take up as little space as you can.
5. Don’t be a know-it-all.You might be up to date on the latest study on strength versus cardio, but that doesn’t make you an authority on working out, Chicago personal trainer Joey Thurman gently points out. And while you may appreciate any bit of advice given to you while at the gym, not all people share the same sentiment. “Do not offer help or advice unless someone asks you because this only makes the other person feel like you’re [following] them,” Thurman says. Instead, if you see someone doing something dangerous, let a trainer or gym employee know ASAP.
6. Chill with the Instagrams. If you didn’t take a picture, did it really happen? Yes, it definitely did — and let your body be all the proof you need, says celebrity trainer Derek Degrazio, who teaches at Barry’s Bootcamp in Miami. “If you’re spending time after every set to try to get the perfect post-workout shot you’re not devoting the time you need to your routine — and worse than that, you’re distracting everyone else around you, too,” says Degrazio. ‘Gramming that #sweatyselfie from the gym may put you at the scene of the crime and show your accountability, but 62 percent of people believe the social trend puts unrealistic pressure on Millenials alone, according to research from Technogym, a health and wellness company.
7. Don’t cramp someone else’s personal training session. Not everyone can afford a personal trainer, but that doesn’t mean it’s cool to look in (and follow along with) another trainer’s exercises while they’re mid-session. “When you’re watching a trainer over his or her shoulder and imitating their client’s workout, you’re not only technically stealing — since you didn’t pay for the session — but you’re also doing moves that could potentially be detrimental to your own body or may not just be right for you,” says trainer Marc Megna, co-owner of Anatomy at 1220, a performance fitness center in Miami. Need assistance? Splurge just once on a private session and you’ll walk away with moves to mix into your next trip to the gym.
8. Don’t try to be the star in a class. When you come to a group fitness class, you’re there to be part of the chorus — not the choreographer. So keep those silver-screen dreams on hold for just a sec. “Just do what the instructor says, and don’t make your own moves or modify in such a way that it looks like you’re a different workout,”says Joey Gonzalez, CEO of Barry’s Bootcamp. Since classes can be just as packed as gym floors, remember your manners and be a good team player. If you must get some time in the spotlight, take a place in the front row. On the flip side, if you’re a first-timer, grab a spot in the middle or back of the room to avoid any unwanted attention.
9. Do your laundry on the reg. Please. We feel your pain: Laundry day sucks. And yes, you may love those customized Adidas leggings you got for the holidays, but try to avoid wearing gym gear you’ve already sweat in once. “Refrain from keeping your sweaty clothes in your gym bag or locker, then using them again, and again without washing,” says Kira Stokes, a trainer at BFX in New York City and a trainer for booyafitness.com. “You want to make friends in the gym, not enemies, and the easiest way to become the unofficial gym jerk is to be known as ‘the smelly one,’” she says. If you’re not sure if something stinks, play it safe: Assume it does and throw it in the wash.
10. Keep your lips zipped. “The two girls — or guys — who audibly carry on a convo while an instructor is trying to explain a move or circuit to the class are inevitably the folks who end up doing the circuit or exercise wrong,” says Dara Theodore, an instructor at the Fhitting Room in New York City and one of Daily Burn’s own DB365 trainers. Likewise, put the cell phone away — above-mentioned selfie-snapping included. Instead of talking biz on your iPhone, channel your energy in other ways: Can you eke out just a few more reps? Maybe one more mile on the treadmill? Your cell (and your job!) will be there when your sweat session is over, promise.
11. No PDA. Just no. Working out with your significant other may improve your relationship, but that doesn’t mean everyone wants a front-row view of your lovefest. “I love love as much as the next person, but I don’t love when it takes up my bench press, treadmill, yoga mat and especially my stretching station,” says Katie Mack, a trainer at Remorca Fitness Studio in New York City. “Please leave the PDA for your post-workout high at home, or outside or wherever love takes you,” she adds. Don’t you wanna wait ’til you’ve gotten your endorphin high to go on a date anyway?