Gym Etiquette: What Not To Do When Working Out With Colleagues

How to keep your cool while getting hot and sweaty around co-workers

02/01/2018 16:15 GMT | Updated 12/01/2018 10:44 GMT
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When you’re on a team-building break or a work trip, the gym is quite often the place where colleagues convene. The other two communal settings being: the boardroom and the hotel bar. It is imperative you don’t get the three mixed up.

Fitness fanatics can be obsessive when it comes to gym rules: don’t dust your palms with chalk before deadlifts, don’t re-rack your weights or curl outside the squat rack. Doing any of these things is likely to create tension between you and your colleagues, who are ultimately there for the same reasons as you are – to unwind from work stresses, work off the buffet.

There are, however, things you can do that will wind them up tighter than the bolts on a power rack. Here are the gym no-nos:

Tread Carefully
Business trips are all about networking. It’s a sign of confidence to step up and present your pitch. The gym is not the place to sidle up to a colleague on a treadmill. Picking the one next to them is not acceptable, especially when there are several others free. No one wants to shake hands with someone while doing a side gallop on an incline.

Be Cooler
At work, the water cooler chat is an ideal place to let off steam and take your mind off things. People in the gym, however, want to stay focused. When they come to the water cooler, it’s to get the energy boost to hit that killer superset combo, not to wonder whether Eugene in sales lives with his mum.

Nothing To Show
Don’t get caught posturing: admiring your abs, taking mirror selfies, or become so lost in music that you burst into a dance halfway through a workout. Or start singing very loudly to Eye Of The Tiger.  Standing out in the boardroom: commendable. Drawing attention to yourself in the gym: annoying.

Look Sharp
Don’t turn up looking slovenly, or so hot it gives the steam room a complex. Wearing inappropriate attire (or going barefoot) may make a potential client or superior think you’re the loose cannon, maverick type. Nor is it a good idea to look so magazine-cover ready it makes them feel inadequate and hate you.

No Competition
Avoid shaming the CEO on the bench press, giving the office intern unsolicited ball slam advice on the mat, or outdoing your work nemesis on the dumbbells and giving yourself an injury. The temptation to show what you know during step aerobics may be strong, but don’t forget, everyone despises the wannabe instructor.

Get Judged Right
If you’re seen to show disregard for the rules of the gym – hogging or misusing the equipment, not wiping down after use, not returning equipment to where it belongs – you will be judged for it. Also, stay in your comfort zone – complaining a workout is too difficult, grunting, or looking like you’re about to have a heart attack won’t raise your office cred.

Work Out, Not Work
Everyone in the gym is here to forget about work. Do not take a business call, subject others to what you and a co-worker imagine to be spirited office banter, in fact, avoid all work talk. But do be aware you are in the presence of work colleagues. They can probably go their whole lives without ever needing to see you towel-down in the locker room.

It’s Your Time 
Ultimately, you’re in the gym to better yourself. Tone up, shed some excess, feel fit and ready for the challenges you’re here to meet. This is the part where your work is purely on yourself. And remember, the only way to get respect in the gym is looking like you’re into it without looking out to see who’s into you.