The Old Man Who Has The Audacity To Tell You How To Do Your Workout
This happened to me. I was doing cable curls with heavy weight (meaning it was hard) beside an old man (70's I'd say). I stupidly smiled at him between sets and he took that as an invitation to show me what "Sevens" is (I'm not going to bother explaining it, it's stupid) and made me do it. I say "made me" but obviously I could've not done it. I was just caught off-guard. I felt so stupid afterwards. He messed up my whole workout; I was too tired to finish my set.
What to do: If you are ever in a situation where someone tries to tell you what to do during your workout, you wave them off and say "I'm doing my own thing, thanks." Or you glare at them and say "No thanks." If someone has the balls to try to tell you what to do, you have the right to ignore them. It's rude to interrupt someone while they're working out. You should only help a stranger at the gym with an exercise if they specifically ask for your help.
The One Sitting On Something You Need Scrolling On Their Phone
This is classic. The amount of times I've gone to use a machine and find someone scrolling through Instagram for over 2 minutes. You don't know if they're resting or if they're so zoned into their phone that they forgot they were even at the gym.
What to do: Stand awkwardly close to them so they see you. Make it obvious that you are waiting for the machine. If that doesn't get them moving, the next step is to say "Excuse me, are you done?" or, the nicer way would be to say, "Hey can I switch in?" They can't say no to that. Either they'll get off and go onto their next exercise or you'll just have to switch in with them. (Switch in: taking turns on a machine between sets.)
The One Who Hits On You
I'm not going to assume this is exclusively related to women but I have zero experience with getting hit on by a woman at the gym, so I have to be biased here. Recently I did what I always do—smiled at a stranger—and involuntarily invited said stranger to talk to me. Even though my earbuds were firmly in my ears. I finished a set of cable rows and the stranger said "Good workout." I said thank you, then he proceeded to ask where I was from, how often I go to the gym, and told me I had a great build. I laughed it off and continued to my next set. A week later I saw him again—this time I kept my earbuds in as he started talking to me. I smiled and waved him off and went back to my set.
What to do: Do what I did and laugh it off. (Or text your boyfriend to circle the area like a shark.) Some people might just be friendly, some are definitely trying to hit on you. Usually the creepy smile/squinted eyes combo is the tell-all. Don't stop and chat whenever you see the person. Actually, try not to stop and chat with any stranger at the gym unless you trust that they are only being friendly.
The One Making Questionable Noises
It's pretty hilarious when someone is making sex noises. Or very loud breaths as they squat 1-inch reps. Weight-lifting grunting aside, I was walking behind a guy in the gym. He had headphones on but he could tell I was behind him. When we went different directions, he looked at me and literally snarled at me. I was so shocked and confused, all I could do was laugh. If I see him again maybe I'll bark back?
What to do: Just ignore these people who grunt. Sometimes a grunt is needed to knock out that last rep.
The Friend Who Wants To Stop And Chat
What to do: The gym is a workplace. You're there to work, not mingle. Not socialize. Unless you're doing cardio machines, then mingle away, I guess. (I'm ignorant to what goes on in the cardio room.) If someone you know sees you at the gym, give a quick wave and point to your barbell or dumbbells as a way to say "Hey, I'm busy. Talk to you later." Headphones are key at the gym. Even if you do hear someone talking to you, you can pretend you don't.
The Couple In Matching Outfits
Barf. But also... guilty. I don't know if people find my boyfriend and me sickening when we go to the gym in head to toe Gymshark but we tend to be good about not being annoying. We spot each other and switch in on machines together, but we aren't joined at hip the whole time. We're there to work. I've got to say, I've seen a few gym couples. There was one that made out after a set, another where the girlfriend sat on her boyfriend's shoulders while he did push-ups which I guess is efficient? And another who had to meet in the middle of the room after each exercise to cuddle and then go back to their individual workouts. Sure, my boyfriend and I wear a lot of Gymshark but I'd like to hope we aren't as cringe-y as other gym couples.
What to do: Tough to say. Just point and laugh.
The Newbie Who's Struggling Hard
What to do: As I said before, never interrupt someone during their workout. It's annoying but also embarrassing for the person. But, if you see someone who is really struggling to get the bar up on bench or squat, don't be afraid to offer your help. Wait for them to finish their set and when they make eye contact with you, say "If you need a spot, let me know." They might not ask for a spot but odds are they'll be appreciative. I made a friend recently by offering to help her if she ever needed a spotter.
The atmosphere in the gym is relative to your mindset. If you think the gym is scary and that everyone is judging you, you're limiting yourself. Your health is more important than that negative belief in your head. With practice, you'll learn to get over that. The weight-room isn't scary if you look at it through a different "lens". If you are anxious about going to the gym, be sure to read my post on ways to overcome the anxiety.