By SARAH IDRISS, Guest Writer

For people that are just starting an exercise regimen, it might be hard to get acquainted with “Gym Culture”. What does this mean, you ask? These are just given social norms Gym Rats know and follow. Let me give you some insight into what NOT to do at the gym so you can get acculturated faster than you can imagine.

First, don’t carry your bag around the gym floor. There are lockers for a reason, and a padlock costs, like, four dollars at your local Meijer. Even if you only bring a purse and a jacket, you should not have those out when you do your workout. People can trip over them, they take up space, and it just makes you look like a newcomer. Maybe you genuinely forgot your lock in your other bag; that’s fine, ish happens to the best of us.

If you absolutely have to carry it around one day, then so be it. I mean, I’m not going to miss a workout after I’ve already come out because I forgot my lock. Just don’t make it a habit is all.

Second, don’t be an excessive “Hunter-Gatherer”. This means to not literally put every single weight from the rack around your area. Maybe if you’re doing an increasing set you can have two different sized weights (a total of four dumbbells) around you, but anything more than that can get excessive. Again, people can trip over your stuff, but it also just makes people mad. If I only have to do one set where I increase weight and every single dumbbell is sitting by benches that people aren’t using, not only am I going to be annoyed, I am going to be set back in my work out. If you get to increase weight and excel, I should be able to do the same thing. Just be considerate of other people when doing your workout.

To add to this, people that go around and put their stuff on three machines at once, please stop. Maybe you’re doing a superset, and that’s fine, but at most people shouldn’t be trying to reserve more than two machines/areas at once. You can manipulate your superset so that you might use dumbbells with a machine, and that can virtually work for any muscle group. Again, this just comes back to being considerate of other people in the gym setting.

Third, for the love of any deity you follow, please keep yelling/grunting/cackling on the gym floor to a minimum. Some people literally come to the gym to socialize, and that is fine for you, but don’t get in the way of people that are there on a mission. I can go to the gym consistently and see noticeable differences in people that are also consistent, but at the same time, I can see no difference whatsoever in people that are literally there hooting and hollering on the gym floor every time they’re there. On top of this, they take up space on a machine/bench when they are not even doing anything, taking space from people that need the machine for a few sets. If you do wanna talk to someone, just step to the side and chat. I can’t say I’ve never had a conversation at the gym, but I don’t do so on a machine or in the middle of a set.Stewie

Fourth, if you’re taking the time to come to a gym and put in work, please do so in appropriate clothing. I don’t care if you’re only doing arms, don’t show up on the gym floor in jeans. The opposite is also true; just because you’re doing legs doesn’t mean you can show up in a button up and gym shorts. I get that maybe you don’t want to waste a trip if you forgot to bring the right clothes, but c’mon, how can you even be comfortable? If you tell me that you don’t chafe in clothes like that when you work out in them, I know for a fact you’re lying. To go along with this, shoes make a huge difference. Gym shoes typically have some kind of grips on the bottom. When you’re exercising, you typically have to put some kind of body weight on your feet (duh); maybe you have to do planks, or maybe you even have to keep your balance on a stability ball. There is no excuse for wearing flats, dress shoes, Sperrys, boots, etc. to work out. You’re literally asking to hurt yourself by spraining your ankle or twisting something. Not to mention the fact that you’ll just look like an idiot.

Last, at least for this segment on the topic, is how much water your bring and what kind of container you bring it in. For starters, you should definitely bring some kind of water bottle to every workout, no exceptions. If you feel as though you “don’t need water” during your exercise, I question whether or not you’re at the gym or in your basement using a Shake Weight (hint: they’re not even relatively similar). WebMD says that you should be drinking about eight ounces every fifteen minutes; that’s a couple gulps from your standard bottle. Please don’t show up with an old 2 percent milk gallon filled to the brim with water. We both know you won’t drink the whole thing, and no one needs all of that during a typical session anyway. On the flip side, don’t bring an old Starbucks cold cup and fill it with water. It’ll knock over and spill, people can slip on it, and then you look, again, like a newbie. Buy a water bottle, better yet, buy a BlenderBottle because they’re one of the best inventions the fitness industry has seen yet. It’s literally a high quality shaker bottle that can be used for protein shakes, amongst other things. It’s about eight dollars at Meijer, Target, Walmart or even online at

I could name more things, but we can keep that for future pieces. Don’t use this as a reason to not go somewhere. For that matter, use it as a friend letting you know a few things before you get started. Starting a new exercise routine and getting to know how things work in a gym is hard, but if you have someone show you a few ropes, it gets much easier. We all pay for the same membership, so don’t feel like any place is off limits. The weights section is not only for buff dudes, and the cardio is not only for lanky females or old people. Everyone starts at the bottom; people aren’t born with huge muscles.