My Guide To Being Gym Savvy


If you’re independently wealthy and can afford to take your time while working out because you don’t need to go to an actual job, well, then we hate you. Most of us are busy people. In fact, there are several surveys about reasons for not working out, and No. 1 on the list always seems to be “lack of time.”

There is merit in being savvy in the gym. First off, it gives you time for other, non-gym stuff in life. What’s more, when you’re not messing around, it breeds greater mental intensity. You know that when you’re on a tight schedule, you need to kick some ass, so you do. Here are some of the things to avoid and some tips to becoming gym efficient.
Exercising in a public setting is an awesome way to boost energy, collaboration, and even a little friendly competition to push you even harder. But this also come with a code of etiquette that for some reason, sometimes, people seem to forget.

Wear the Wrong Gear
Don’t forget, those super-cute leggings may be super-sheer in downward dog, so it’s best to take them for a test drive before giving the rest of the class a show. Other clothing don’ts include anything too short or too low-cut, especially in a yoga class where you’ll be stretching and bending all over the place.

Use the Mirror a Little Too Liberally
The mirrors are for correcting form, not checking your makeup or seeing how good your triceps look. He’s seen everything from popping zits to fixing (than re-fixing, and re-fixing again) hair. Repeat after me: This is workout zone, not your bathroom vanity.

Glam it Up
Wearing some tinted moisturizer and subtle mascara is one thing, but coming to class in a full face of makeup is usually a don’t. While you may start off looking sexy, 15 minutes in you’ve morphed into Heath Ledger as the Joker. Plus, you don’t really want to worry about your eyeliner streaking while you’re trying to hold a plank.

Create a Stink
You know to reapply deodorant before class (hopefully), but re-wearing the same workout clothes from earlier in the week can cause an even worse stench. That top/bra/pair of shorts may smell OK when you first pull it on, but once your body warms up… ripe city. (Not to mention the lovely bacteria that thrives on damp fabric.) Another culprit: bad breath – especially in the tight quarters of an indoor cycling class. So don’t forget to brush your teeth before class – chances are you’ll be breathing pretty heavy during your workout.

Chat Too Much
Hold the gossip for the few minutes before and after a group session. It’s not just rude, it could actually mess with your workout. You are interrupting your own breathing patterns, your fellow classmates, and most importantly, the instructor.
Become the Unofficial Teacher’s Assistant
It’s true that with group classes of 30 or more, the instructor can’t be everywhere at once. Still, unless you’re actually employed by this gym, leave your neighbor be. Unless somebody’s form is so bad that injury is immediately forthcoming or she asks for help, you should mind your own business. Don’t assume you know why somebody is taking a class, and don’t assume that they want commentary or even assistance.

Do Your Own Thing
If a move is no good for your body, an instructor will probably step in to provide an appropriate modification. But don’t take that to mean you can make up a bunch of alternative exercises as you go, most fitness instructors don’t want to compete with your own personal routine. As in, when everyone else is doing bicep curls and you decide it’s a great time to work on your squat form. Don’t be that person. Not to mention, it’s distracting to the other class-goers.

Now here’s how to a gym don:
The Changing Room
If all you did was weights, do you really need to shower? Can you get away with a towel to the pits and a reapplication of deodorant? Do you have to get changed there, or can this be done at home? Look for ways to avoid the place altogether, or just minimise the time spent around other naked guys.

Waiting For Equipment
Busy gyms can be motivating. There is an energy in the air and it makes you want to partake. But if the place is jammed and there is no squat cage or bench press, or if all the chin-up bars are constantly occupied, then you may need to rethink your workout time of day. Alternatively, you need to look for ways to adapt your plans. If every squat cage is taken and they don’t look like they’re going to be free any time soon, then consider doing something else that day.

Isolation Exercises
Let us use the chest, shoulders and triceps day as an example. Almost 70% of the time for that workout is chest. The reason why is simple: shoulders and triceps also get worked hard while doing chest. Therefore, a lot of time spent on isolation (single joint) movements like lateral raises and triceps extensions just isn’t necessary. Same goes for the back and biceps day. Most of the workout is back, and biceps just get a little bit of work at the end, because they were already trained hard all along during the back workout.

Focusing On Machines
I’m not completely down on weightlifting machines, but they should be relegated to the “almost done” portion of your workout regimen. For legs, focus on squats instead of this piece of crap. Machines don’t give you half the workout of free weights, and therefore waste time. My opinion is that machines are to be used toward the end of a workout, when your muscles are so blasted that you simply don’t have the strength left for proper free weight technique. In those instances, machines can be good just as a way to quickly finish things off.

Not Doing Supersets
There are supersets, compound sets or just doing your workout nonstop. When I do chest, shoulders and triceps, I need a break between the sets for chest because it’s hardcore stuff, but after that’s done, the shoulders and triceps are constantly alternated. I’m only taking a few seconds here and there for sips of water until the workout is done. It revs metabolism higher and results in a high-volume workout.
The Water Fountain
If you’re constantly going from equipment to water fountain and back, the time wasting adds up. Especially if there’s a line. Just get a water bottle seriously.

Static Stretching
Dynamic stretching is great a part of an effective warm-up for lifting, making movements that mimic the exercise you’re about to engage in. Static stretching before lifting has been shown to decrease strength, and is not something you do at the gym if you’re pressed for time. I’m not down on static stretching, but it’s time consuming when you could be doing other things, and no special equipment is required. Personally, I think the time for static is while watching TV — it’s a great way to maximise your time, so that the gym is more about lifting.

Excessive Warming Up
While I always do a proper warm-up before lifting, working my way up to heavy, you don’t need to go overboard. What’s more, once you’re warm, you’re warm. You don’t need to do it for every exercise. As an example, if I’m doing chest, shoulders and triceps all in one workout, I only need to warm up for that first chest exercise. If I do three chest exercises in total, I don’t need to warm up for exercises No. 2 and No. 3, and I sure as hell don’t need to warm up for shoulders and triceps, because they were getting worked all along with the chest exercises.

Aerobic Warm-Ups
I’m a big fan of aerobic workouts, but there isn’t really a need to run on a treadmill or hit a stationary bike to get the blood flowing for lifting. If you really think this is necessary, just walk briskly while you’re on the way to the gym and change rapidly. A real warm-up is to do the exercise you’re about to do at a lighter weight. If you’re about to do bench press, then you warm up with bench press at lower weights and work your way up to the heavy stuff.
Now go out there and be awesome.