How to Use a Gym


Josh Bowman gives some tips for all you gym rats. Etiquette, people. Etiquette.

  1. Don’t give other people unsolicited advice on working out. They might have a reason for exercising the way they do.
  2. Don’t just walk on the treadmills…break a sweat. If you are able to talk on your cell phone, you aren’t working hard enough. If you are talking on your cell phone…stop talking on your cell phone.
  3. Don’t bang your weights if you can avoid it. Put your weights away. To quote a personal trainer I used to know: “boys need to put away their toys.”
  4. Wipe everything down. It’s gross enough that we use the same mats, and that your butt was where my face is now.
  5. For popular or scarce machines (benches, the only cage in the gym, etc.), do what you need to do and get out. It sucks to just sit around monopolizing a bench when there are other people waiting.
  6. If you are an old man who is naked and wants to sit on the bench in the change room and talk to every single guy there…don’t. You exist at every gym. Good for you for still working out, but please…don’t.
  7. Go regularly. I’m just as guilty as anybody of flaking out on routine, but without routine you will never get results.
  8. Eat properly. Nutrition is everything.
  9. If you are getting personal training, just do the work. If you sit with the guy for half an hour taking breaks, talking about the Raptors game, you are wasting your money and your time. Just work hard and shut up, and your trainer will help you get fit.
  10. Lift weights you can manage. You’re not there to impress anybody. Focus on form. Improve gradually but steadily. Push yourself, but don’t injure yourself.

—Photo CherryPoint/Flickr

About Josh Bowman

Josh Bowman is a professional fundraiser, story-teller, comedian, and blogger. He has worked and consulted in Vancouver, New York, and now Toronto for almost a decade. Josh improvises around Toronto, including regular shows with Opening Night Theatre, and also blogs for the Huffington Post. You can email Josh here.. If you want to know more about Josh, check this post and this post out first.


  1. Have to agree with the commenters before me. I’m young and look healthy, if a bit unfit, there were times right after I had surgery I wasn’t able to use public transport because I was weak and in pain. As I was recovering, walking on a treadmill would have been a great start when and if I had the energy.

    It’s not the end of the world that you wrote, sometimes we don’t see things from every perspective all at once. See of it as weights. We who walk on treadmills (without cellphones so we don’t annoy others around us) don’t care about impressing people, we’re trying to steadily improve.

  2. Point number 2? Please see point number 1. Maybe someone’s recovering from an injury. Maybe someone has a chronic illness. Maybe someone’s following doctor’s orders. Walking is not a bad thing.

  3. Liz Gracey says:

    I agree with Tim about number 2. It also violates the excellent rule proposed in point 1. I see Josh’s point, we have all seen people who seem to be defeating the purpose of a workout, sitting on the bike reading People magazine. I used to make assumptions about them being lazy or wasting their time. Then I fell pregnant. During the first trimester, I happened to be so ill I slept 13 hours a day and vomited for each hour of sleep I received. I was exhausted to an extent I have never known before or since, and I speak as a person who has run multiple marathons and done a whole bunch of other extremely tiring things. Walking on the treadmill required a herculean effort, which was invisible to all the gym rats rolling their eyes at me, because I wasn’t yet showing. “People might have a reason for exercising the way they do.”

  4. My friends and I have a joke about the gym: “Never forget that you’re not having fun.” It’s kind of a tongue-in-cheek way to say ‘don’t over do it’ and don’t be in there so long that it becomes overly tedious. I’ve been guilty of the sin of overdoing it. I’ll get back in the gym after Christmas Break/New Year’s/ Gorge-Myself-Like-Jabba-palooza and try to do the same work that I was doing.

    I get in there, lift my weights, and move on. Also, I’m not in there for long. If I end up spending over an hour in the gym I get so tired of being there and then start making excuses why I can’t fit in workout time. There’s no excuse for not having an extra 30min. Never forget you’re not having fun.

  5. Tim Byron says:

    I agree with all of the above, apart from the part about treadmills.
    Walking on a treadmill is perfectly acceptable, that’s why they have walking speeds available. Some people are unable to run, but should still be free to use the machine. After all, they’re paying to use it.

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