The 22 Worst Decisions You Can Make at the Gym

Cole Saladino/Thrillist
Cole Saladino/Thrillist

You signed up for a gym membership, which may, in fact, be one of your poorer decisions. But now you’re locked into a contract, so you might as well make the most of it. If you don’t want to catch a staph infection or get trapped on a treadmill between a heavy breather and a loud cellphone talker, avoid making these decisions when you hit the gym.

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1. Eating a heavy or smelly meal before you go

First, it’s going to make you feel gross. Second, it’s going to make everyone else feel gross. No one likes the guy with onion breath and garlic sweat. 

2. Showing up at 6am or 6pm

I get that there’s this thing called a “normal work schedule” that makes it hard to workout at times other than 6am or 6pm, but unless you actually enjoy standing in line to use the same equipment everyone else is trying to use, make your best effort to avoid the gym’s rush hour. 

3. Copying someone else’s workout... or someone else’s form

You may think you’re as sneaky as a ninja, but guaranteed, that person knows you’re copying them… and you just became the creepy person. Also, who’s to say they have a good workout (or good form)? 

4. Using the Smith machine to do squats

Sure, it’s easier than learning proper squat form. But therein lies the problem: you’re not learning proper squat form. Skip the machine altogether and start with bodyweight squats, learn the form, then gradually add weights.

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5. Dropping weights

If you’re a weight dropper, I hate you. First, if you have to drop the weights, you’re probably lifting too much to begin with (or you need a spotter). Also, it’s an annoying habit. Also, it can damage dumbbells and cause them to break. Do you want a dumbbell falling apart on you when you’re doing dumbbell chest presses? I didn’t think so. 

6. Grunting excessively

A little grunting, fine. Crazy, I’m-about-to-orgasm grunts? Just know that everyone at the gym is laughing at you and rolling their eyes. 

7. Forgetting your shower shoes

Because athlete’s foot isn’t limited to high school boys' locker rooms. 

8. Forgetting your headphones

There’s no better excuse not to talk to anyone than to pretend you don’t hear them.

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9. Staring

Staring at other people. Staring at yourself in the mirror. It’s all weird. And yes, other people notice if you’re constantly checking yourself out. There’s a difference between watching your form and having an illicit love affair with yourself. 

10. Hoarding or monopolizing equipment

You just became public enemy number one. People have places to go and things to do -- don’t screw with everyone else’s schedule by monopolizing all the equipment. 

11. Failing to wipe down a machine before you use it

Are you sure the person before you wiped it down? Do you really want to take that risk?

12. Always doing the same thing

It’s boring. Plus, it’ll limit your ability to see results.

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13. Taking selfies of every move

It’s a good way to get a lot of pictures, but not a great workout. 

14. Taking advice from anyone who’s not a certified trainer

Everyone who has a body has an opinion on exercise. That doesn’t mean they actually know anything.  

15. Choosing the locker next to the person who's a little too comfortable with nudity

Maybe you didn’t know you chose the locker next to this person when you walked in, but if I were you, I’d switch asap. Chances are this person is perfectly comfortable carrying on long conversations sans pants -- it’s a free country and all, but it’s possible to be a little too zealous in exercising that freedom.

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16. Skipping your warm up or cool down

Unless you actually enjoy getting injured. 

17. Not asking for help

Everyone needs a little help sometimes. Whether you need a spot on a bench press or you need advice on how to use a piece of equipment, trainers are there for a reason. Use them. 

18. Going commando

No one wants to see that. And in those gym shorts? They’re gonna see it. 

19. Walking around naked in the locker rooms

See No. 15. Are YOU the one who's too comfortable with nudity?

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20. Failing to follow a plan

Going to the gym without a plan is like going to the grocery store without a list. You’ll probably just wander around aimlessly doing random crap. Sure, you’ll get a workout in, but is it a good workout? Hard to say.

21. Giving unsolicited advice

Are you a trainer? Are you a trainer employed by the gym? Are you a trainer employed by the gym who is on duty? No? Then keep your mouth closed.

22. Skipping cardio… or skipping strength work

Cardio is important. Strength training is important. While you don’t need to do both during every workout, always skipping one or the other is a bad idea.

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Laura Williams is an exercise physiologist and fitness writer who wears headphones at the gym so she won’t have to talk to anyone. Talk to her on Twitter instead @girlsgonesporty.