T Nation

Gym Etiquette

As someone who doesn’t like to be interupted when working out, should you tell someone that what thay are doing is very dangerous, the other day i saw someone perform what looked like an explosive deadlift followed by an extreme backward arch with a crash to the floor for a number of reps, as i don’t like gym busybodys myself, should i have stopped him and explained how dangerous it was or let him continue

[quote]telepinu wrote:
As someone who doesn’t like to be interupted when working out, should you tell someone that what thay are doing is very dangerous, the other day i saw someone perform what looked like an explosive deadlift followed by an extreme backward arch with a crash to the floor for a number of reps, as i don’t like gym busybodys myself, should i have stopped him and explained how dangerous it was or let him continue[/quote]

It’s not a matter of should or should not. I used to give people some tips here and there, but being that most of them didn’t give a rat’s ass, I stopped. I can’t tell you the amount of times I saw guys in their teens and early 20’s doing power cleans that resembled a shitty deadlift + reverse curl combo and kindly offered a tip yet in most cases received a dumbfounded stare or a general don’t-give-a-shit attitude. When I told one guy, “You’re reverse curling the bar when there should be no curling at all,” he replied, “Yeah, I see what you’re saying, but I’m focusing on getting bigger,” I knew then and there that most people doing cleans don’t know what a clean is supposed to be.

Unless you work at the gym, I’d let people learn from their own mistakes. Getting injured is the only way some people learn the importance of good form.

I would politely offer to show them how to perform the exercise properly, if they respond positively I would demonstrate, go into depth on the major cues, stick with them until they can perform it properly, then throw about names like Cressey, Gentilcore, or even Wendler and Tate to research on their own time so they can pick up advice from other things they may not be doing so hot with either.

Should they respond negatively, I would politely apologise, and leave them to get themselves fucked up. At that point they are no longer my concern, and I would feel happier knowing some kind of shoulder tweak or a slipped disc would afford me more gym space and concentration.

If it’s somewhere in between and they have kind of a vaguely thankful but dismissive response, I would make some kind of effort to show good form around them, so they can at least get the basic idea of how to do it properly by watching from the sidelines if they’re too timid to ask for help.

Luckily I’m strong relative to the other members of my gym (viciously weak in a grander scheme of things), and I’ve been able to teach a few people how to Squat and Deadlift properly (at least reasonably). Most of the people at my gym, at least at the times I train, are very kind, helpful and humble people, and so I take it upon myself to help them out if something is new to them or they need to reassess their training methodology.

I am of the mindset that you shouldn’t impose your thoughts on another person if they do not ask for it. Doing so requires two assumptions:

  1. They want advice

  2. You are worthy enough to give it to them

Even if both criteria are met, the fact that you simply assumed it will strike a nerve with most people.

[quote]smallmike wrote:
Unless you work at the gym, I’d let people learn from their own mistakes. Getting injured is the only way some people learn the importance of good form.[/quote]

Sadly, yes. I guy I deployed with would always do deadlifts with a rounded back, squat with shitty form, etc, and a few times I’d mention it, and he’d say “I’ve always done it this way without problems”. We come back to the states, a couple months later he has to go to the doctor’s, turns out his spine is all jacked up now, for life. And he’s in his early 20’s. Just sad.

I will sometimes notify gym staff if someone is doing something dangerous, usually a casual, “go check that kid out, he might hurt him self” will do fine.

I’ve only had to do it twice, once when a dude was throwing a dumbbell in the parking lot. I kid you not, he’d throw, walk forward, SLDL the dumbbell up, strict reverse curl it in to position, and then throw again. I guess if it was his dumbbell I wouldn’t have cared, but who takes a dumbbell from a gym rack, takes it to the parking lot, and proceeds to destroy both the cement and the dumbbell?

The other was when some young kids we’re squatting way too heavy, dropping weights every set, full hunchback mode.

It’s not really my job or place to tell the lifters themselves, its the gym staff’s, but it is my job as a member of my gym to make sure people don’t hurt themselves or others.

I generally don’t feel qualified to tell people how to lift or give them advice on form, but if they ask for it thats a different story. I would def say somthing if what they were doing was unsafe to others or the equipment. Like the one time I was at the gym some really tall guy left 315 on the squat rack fairly high up instead of telling him to rerack his weights I just minded my own business. Well another guy comes over takes all the weight off one side the bar goes flying into the mirror. Had it been the other side and I had not been knocked out by the weights I probably would have slammed a plate on this guys face for being a fucktard.

Waiting for someone to ask for help may not be the best option either. If they are timid they may very well want to know what to do, but aren’t confident enough to.

I’d go with what Kahuna said. I have offered advice before, but not being a big guy, most people pay me off. Oh well.

If they’re doing something that could be dangerous to others or damage equipment I’ll let staff know. That’s about it. I can’t think of a time where I’ve actually had to do this.

What I’ve noticed is that the people who really want the adivce (a.k.a. the people that’ll actually listen) will come to you. If you go to them they’ll be more likely to view it as a blow to their ego. This is just from experience training in my high school and college campus gym. Also, if you give advice but don’t look the part yourself they wont listen anyway. If you look the part they’ll be coming to you. For example I’m not that muscular since most of my training is Olympic lifting oriented, so no one comes to me asking me to help them with their bench press or curl form. When it comes to their power clean, snatch or front squat form though (provided they actually do those lifts) I’m usually the guy they go to.

I usually shut my whore mouth no matter what someone is doing in the gym. The exception is really skinny teens that look completely bewildered, I find they usually appreciate some pointers but are too timid to ask.

no unsolicited advice. People aren’t going to listen. If they’re doing something that might damage equipment then by all means tell them to cut that shit out, but if it’s just exercise form then let them get on with it.

It depends really…sometimes I start by saying something like “Powercleans today huh, man I really like powercleans” and see where things go from there. (like two equals talking shop) Then I can continue with "I always feel it works best when I…, or I like the way it feels when I do…, or when I started I was taught…

[quote]rds63799 wrote:
no unsolicited advice. People aren’t going to listen. If they’re doing something that might damage equipment then by all means tell them to cut that shit out, but if it’s just exercise form then let them get on with it.[/quote]

This. I don’t go around offering advice cause I see it as kind of imposing and arrogant. I have been asked for help/tips many times and I gladly answer. If someone is doing something stupid, I don’t try to stop them.

[quote]Ripsaw3689 wrote:

[quote]rds63799 wrote:
no unsolicited advice. People aren’t going to listen. If they’re doing something that might damage equipment then by all means tell them to cut that shit out, but if it’s just exercise form then let them get on with it.[/quote]

This. I don’t go around offering advice cause I see it as kind of imposing and arrogant. I have been asked for help/tips many times and I gladly answer. If someone is doing something stupid, I don’t try to stop them. [/quote]

This. If someone asks, then I will usually offer assistance but not much. Depends on if they are really soaking it in. Otherwise, I mind my own business. The only time I have ever helped a dude without him aasking for it was when poor guy got stuck under the bar on flat bench. I was watching him struggle with 225 in the mirror while I was doing dumbells work. I was thinking that I hope he doesn’t try another rep. Sure enough, he went down with it. I actually was on top of him before he could alert the whole gym that he was stuck. Dude, was most thankful.

Don’t intervene ever unless you or someone you are training with is in danger. People either resent you for it or ignore you, and if you do it often enough, you’ll develop a bad reputation in the gym.

The other thing to consider is liability. If you show somebody how to pull, and then you walk away, how do you know if they are still going to do it right in the future? What if they hurt themselves and blame it on you (even if it isn’t your fault)? The Injured guy may tell the gym you gave him bad advice on the deadlift, and the Gym decides kick you out or worse. Gyms only want their PTs instructing people because that’s what their liability insurance covers. It may seem cold hearted, but you should just let people injure themselves. Or let the staff know, like others have mentioned.

Thanks a lot for the advice guys, its really appreciated.

Easy, I just quit going to the gym.

And I have no mirrors in my basement so I don’t even see the stupid things I do.

Problem solved. I figure natural selection will eventually work everything out.