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11 Ways to Avoid Being "That Guy" at a New Gym

Spare yourself serious embarrassment by dodging these rookie mistakes.

There are a million reasons to change gyms. Maybe your workout has grown beyond the capabilities of your current joint. Maybe your present gym plays "Party Rock Anthem" on continuous loop. Or maybe you're new to the fitness game entirely, in which case, welcome. But, regardless of your skill level, you'll enjoy your new environment a lot more if you avoid a few common lapses in etiquette. Here are a few tips to keep you from raising ire along with barbells. DON'T SHOW UP IN BRAND NEW GEAR Emerging from the locker room for your first workout in gear that's 15 minutes removed from its price tags screams that you're new, and you'll likely find that everything wears better after having been broken in anyway. Everyone has experienced the pain of a new pair of sneakers feasting on the backs of their heels—new clothes can be just as brutal. Advice: Wear and wash your clothes a few times beforehand, walk some miles in your shoes before pounding out any running and invest in a good fabric softener. Your nipples will thank you.

CAN THE UNSOLICITED ADVICE It’s been a longstanding rule on the golf course, but the ban on unsought input is just as applicable in the gym. You might be trying to help, but you never know how a person will greet your good intentions. Advice: What do you do if someone’s deadlifting form makes your spine cry with vicarious pain? Find a trainer and point out what's going on. The logo on their polo shirt will make it easier for them to intervene. IF YOU NEED A SPOT, ASK Requesting a spot isn't easy. You’re not only soliciting a stranger, but you're asking him to spend his gym time to help you with yours. But considering the alternatives—go lighter and get a lesser workout or go for a personal record and bail spectacularly—you’re better off sucking it up and asking for help. Advice: Find a gym employee who’s happy to help. If you can't, look for someone who's not in the midst of an intense workout.

DON'T KEEP TOO MANY SPOTTERS There are disadvantages to the lone wolf workout, but rolling around the gym with a posse can also be counterproductive. It’s understandable to want some support, but if there's an audience for every exercise, you're likely spending a lot of time standing around and tying up stations instead of putting in work. Advice: Want a group environment? Try a class. The motivation that comes from working out with others can be great and there are plenty of options out there if you do your research. (If you end up in a Zumba class, it’s your fault.) BE COURTEOUS WITH YOUR CAMERA A camera can be a valuable workout tool. You can use it to check your form or just to provide video proof of a hard-fought PR for later inspiration. Unfortunately, it's really easy to start getting all Scorsese with it. Advice: If you're videoing a lift, start recording during set up and stop recording when it's done. If you're going to take a picture—which is still pushing it—turn your flash off, Maplethorpe.


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