Unspoken Gym Rules According to Pro Athletes

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Everybody’s been a newbie at the gym at some point, so if you made it past that awkward stage and wished you could give the new batch of newbies some friendly instruction, we’re with you. We’re breaking the silence on gym etiquette once and for all. We spoke to seven pros that spend all day in the gym — here’s what they deem the biggest no-nos.

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Dean Karnazes is the ultramarathon man. (Photo: Karnazes)

Dean Karnazes, Ultramarathoner/Author: Put Away Your Phone
A marathon is merely a warmup for Dean Karnazes. Giving his Greek ancestors a run for their money, he took the ultimate test of endurance, running 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days. His longest distance without stopping for sleep is a whopping 350 miles over three nights. Karnazes is an all-night runner, but there’s not always a surplus of energy for him to spend the night on the road. He spends plenty of his “downtime” at the gym. “Watching people spending more time on their devices than working out [is my gym pet peeve]. The gym is for fitness, not Facebook,” Karnazes tells Yahoo Beauty. “The locker is where the phone belongs.” As for etiquette on the gym floor, Karnazes wishes more people would work-in, or share machines between sets. “Too many people just sit on machines when they’re not actually using them. Best to vacate between sets and allow others to work-in with you,” he says. “Also, getting up allows you a chance to keep your heart rate elevated between sets. It’s a perfect opportunity to bang out some burpees, squats or lunges.”

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Kristi Molinaro’s 30/60/90 takes bootcamp even further. (Photo: 30/60/90)

Kristi Molinaro, Founder and Instructor of 30/60/90 Fitness: Stick to the Routine
If you’ve ever taken a bootcamp class, imagine doubling the intensity of the cardio, and there you have 30/60/90. Molinaro personally formulated the program around high intensity interval training and specifically timed anaerobic bursts with no breaks over the course of 45 minutes. She develops a new routine monthly and builds on the intervals each week to ensure that your body never gets accustomed to the workout, so the end of the month is harder than the beginning and regulars can grow with the class. She spends lots of time teaching her own class at Equinox, as well as preparing the class for the coming months. “I think my biggest pet peeve is when people come into class and make up their own routine,” Molinaro says. “Modifications to the routine are perfectly fine with me, but creating your own routine is rude and distracting to the entire class.” She also feels that there should be a rule against first-timers opting for the front row. “I think it is possible that [first-timers] believe they will be able to see what’s going on better, but the truth is that they need regulars in front of them in the classroom so that they can follow along. Also, the people in the rest of the room often cannot see the instructor so they are looking to the front row for guidance.”

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Don Saladino sculpts Hollywood’s most enviable bodies. (Photo: Saladino)

Don Saladino, Celebrity Trainer: Stay Tidy
Credited with shaping bodies from Blake Lively to Hugh Jackman’s, Saladino has devoted his life to hitting the gym. For him, one of the biggest issues is a sanitary one. “I don’t understand people who do not wash their clothing after every workout and then wear it again,” he says. “Guess what? It smells really bad, even though you can’t tell.” On the floor, he expects members to help maintain a tidy atmosphere and put away their weights. “Just because you pay for a membership doesn’t give you the right to cause a messy atmosphere for other members.”

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Charlee Atkins is SoulCycle’s Queen Bee. (Photo: SoulCycle)

Charlee Atkins, Senior SoulCycle Instructor: Be on Time to Class
The gym practices that give Charlee Atkins a headache are in line with Molinaro and Saladino’s. “[My pet peeve is] when people re-wear their gym clothes without washing,” she says. “And showing up late to group fitness classes. [An unspoken rule that should be official is] no latecomers allowed.” She is all about respecting the other members of the class. “Those who consistently show up late to class are typically late to every appointment. It’s disrespectful to a group setting. Your needs are not greater than anybody else showing up to a group fitness class.”

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Kevin Pierre-Louis is the Seahawks’ Hulk. (Photo: Instagram)

Kevin Pierre-Louis, Seattle Seahawks Outside Linebacker: Follow the Dress Code
You probably won’t find football star Kevin Pierre-Louis decked out in Lululemon anytime soon. “A gym pet peeve of mine is people that come to the gym dressed as they are about to go to the club,” he says. “Gym is for working out, not trying to pick someone up.” He adds that working-in (sharing a machine with a partner) is an important part of gym culture.

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Johan Montijano makes hands-free headstands look easy. (Photo: Instagram)

Johan Montijano, Yoga Guru: Sharing is Caring
Montijano may be a yoga guy, but he comes into class with a bike helmet and if you catch a glimpse, you can tell he hits the weights as often as he “ohms.” “[My gym pet peeve is when] people think the machine they are working out on belongs to them,” he says. “Rule that should be official: You have to share the machine/workout station if someone needs it. And not give attitude.”

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Lynze Schiller teaches mindful acrobatics and fitness. (Photo: Facebook)

Lynze Schiller, Dance, Trapeze, and Group Fitness Instructor: Be Respectful
Like Don Saladino, Schiller feels that people need to take responsibility for the equipment they use. “If you are strong enough to play with your toys you are strong enough to put them away,” she says. But for this dancer, trapeze artist, personal trainer, group instructor, and wellness coach, the most important thing is dynamic between members — in the locker room, in a class, or on the floor. “If you really go down to the definition of etiquette — and I’ve been reading a little bit of Emily Post, and I think she talks about — it’s really taking the other person’s feelings and experiences into consideration. So I think my biggest pet peeve on the gym floor is when people don’t do that,” she says. “In the locker room it’s the same thing. Because it can be a chaotic experience or it can be a friendly experience, depending on how we choose to treat the people around us.” We sense a theme among class instructors. The clear-cut issue in group fitness is disrupting the class. “I’ve been working on my own personal responsibility and trying not to let things get to me. But if I were to have to choose one [group fitness pet peeve], it would be when members walk into the studio when there’s a class in session,” says Schiller. “If for some reason you have to leave class early, put your things away. And do that in a nice manner. There’s a graceful way to do that,” she adds. Schiller makes self-awareness a theme in her classes in an effort to create a positive environment among members. “I do notice that sometimes people come into the studio to really work and get something out of it, and sometimes people come to the studio and their minds check out. And there’s no right or wrong about that.”

As for who’s to blame in situations like these, the pros agree that people are willing to abide by rules once they’re made aware of them, and that the gym is responsible for structuring the culture and etiquette of its members. “I have been in the business for close to 20 years and anytime I have ever corrected someone, they are open to change,” says Don Saladino. “I feel a lot of the clubs out there should offer some sort of screening or foundations class.” Dean Karnazes agrees, “Having some simple signage and encouraging a gym culture that promotes such etiquette is easy if the gyms take proactive measures,” he says. Mindfulness, tolerance, and awareness of yourself and others in the gym are key ingredients to optimizing your workout.

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