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  • Etiquette on the pulley machines

    I've recently starting going to a commercial gym again after a long hiatus, and I have a question about gym etiquette--specifically, working in on the pulley machines. I'm always happy to let anyone work in with me if I possibly can (doesn't work so well if a barbell needs to be loaded or unloaded for each set and one guy is four times stronger than the other), but on the pulley machines, where all you have to do is move one or two pins from one spot to another, common sense tells me that it should be perfectly fine to work in with anyone. Yesterday, there was a woman going back and forth between the standing calf raise machine and the leg curl machine, and she had her water bottle planted right by the calf raise machine. That was the only one of those in the gym, and I needed it, unless I was going to deviate from my written plan--which I absolutely hate to do. During my rest period, I mulled it over. I hate being seen as intrusive, so ultimately I did a different calf exercise.

    Today, the shoe was on the other foot. While I was doing tricep pull-downs, I was wearing headphones, and a woman who thought I couldn't hear her glanced at me and said to her partner, "Yeah, but he's using that one. We can just use this one." I pulled off my headphones and told them they could work in with me. They shyly accepted the offer.

    What is it with this? Is there some unwritten rule that says it's rude to ask to work in, even though the terms of the contract specifically state that working-in should be accommodated as much as is reasonable? I've tried to pay attention to whether I ever hear anyone else asking to work in when the gym is really busy, and I haven't heard it happen yet. I would never think it unreasonable of anyone to ask to work in with me on a pulley machine, but somehow I'd feel presumptuous asking others.
    "Be kind, friendly and lenient towards your fellow man, but unrelenting and pitiless with yourself." -- Franz Bardon

  • #2
    The gym etiquette of old is gone. Nobody teaches it to new members and they should. Unless you go to a true hardcore gym you have to deal with the rude and the timid.
    -KidRok-
    "...because I won't accept that I can't."


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    • #3
      Originally posted by Hop View Post
      The gym etiquette of old is gone. Nobody teaches it to new members and they should. Unless you go to a true hardcore gym you have to deal with the rude and the timid.
      Even at hardcore gyms, it's fading...

      About a month ago, I'd sat my stuff on a seated row cable, one of FOUR in that gym, right in a row. All three others were free / open.

      I put my straps and belt on the seat, bag of goodies next to the seat and go to get a different handle.

      I come back and there's a guy on the machine, using it, after dumping my stuff onto the floor. (I was gone for 20 seconds max.)

      He looks at me mid-set and mutters "Sorry."

      I just "No worries" and moved to the next identical machine 10 feet away.

      Bizarre.

      -S
      The Book Has Arrived!
      The Book Has Arrived!

      Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a pristine, well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, used up, worn out, and shouting, "Holy #$&^%$^... What a ride!!!"


      www.TrueNutrition.com

      2012 NPC Master's Nationals HW 5th. Mid-USA HW & Overall
      2010 NPC Jr. USA HW 4th, Pacific USA Heavy 2nd
      2009 NPC Mr. Arizona HW & Overall, Jr. Nationals HW 16th, Smoked at USA's

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      • #4
        I agree with Scott and Bob in that unless you are pretty clear, to the point and relatively nice, most people would prefer you simply wait until they are done. I think part of the issue these days is most gyms are so well-equipped that you don't have to wait or share like you used to. Like Scott said, there were 4 long pulley rows and this goes for benches, squat racks, etc., these days. In the "old fucker days" you had limited equipment and even Golds and World Gyms weren't massively well-equipped (most of them) so people tended to "share" so much better.

        I am nice but direct. I always approach first with, "are you just getting started here?" If they say they have 1 or 2 I will not even ask to work in but I will stand there and wait. That usually keeps them moving without being slow. If they say they have more than 2 then I will be direct and just ask if they mind if I work in with them. I rarely have had an issue but I admit that when I was smaller and not in as good of shape years ago there was much more of an issue with this than now.

        Quick story: I had a guy a few weeks ago that caught me off guard (this rarely happens these days) where he was super setting during peak hours and he had left his water bottle on a flat bench and was nowhere to be found. I didn't know he was doing a set of incline bench and then coming over to do flat bench dumbbell presses and clearly thought sitting his water bottle on the bench was going to "save" it or something.

        I looked around, didn't see anyone and moved the bottle after waiting roughly 5 minutes.

        When he came over and told me that was his water bottle (with a bit of an attitude), I smiled and said I figured it was someone's but didn't see anyone using it. I asked if I could work in between his sets and he said he would appreciate if I didn't because he was super-setting. Now, this caught me a little off guard because I was pretty nice about it and this guy was just a sloppy, wanna be kind of guy but he was of bigger stature and tall. I smiled and asked him if his mom taught him to share. He asked if I had a problem and I told him absolutely not but I am going to use this bench with you and winked at him. That seemed to diffuse the situation and he conceded.

        Long story, I know. Point is, it is entirely different these days. I am not huge by any stretch but 20 years ago this situation would have never played out this way because there used to be a bit of a hierarchy where the bigger guys were always aloud to work in without any real question. These days it seems everyone is selfish and they don't want to share a fucking thing.

        Skip


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        • #5
          In my case, I train at a military gym on base..I tend to choose different exercises that are not so popular like the squat rack (I know, I know) incline and few others, this will prevent dealing with all the other "experts." When I have to go to the "Bro" machines all it does is cause problems. Questions and debate. Im not much for small talk, even more when im training. Training at this gym, its more evident who takes their training seriously over the bro goers. So, I usually know who I can ask and who I need to stay away from. I usually have Taylor motivating me, bros stay clear when shes present as shes squatting alot more than those dudes
          I have found iron to be my greatest friend. It never freaks out on me. It never runs. Friends may come and go but two hundred pounds is always two hundred pounds. There is no better way to fight weakness than with strength, Once the mind and body have been awakened to their true potential, its impossible to turn back, the iron never lies to you.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by BlenderManDan View Post
            I've recently starting going to a commercial gym again after a long hiatus, and I have a question about gym etiquette--specifically, working in on the pulley machines. I'm always happy to let anyone work in with me if I possibly can (doesn't work so well if a barbell needs to be loaded or unloaded for each set and one guy is four times stronger than the other), but on the pulley machines, where all you have to do is move one or two pins from one spot to another, common sense tells me that it should be perfectly fine to work in with anyone. Yesterday, there was a woman going back and forth between the standing calf raise machine and the leg curl machine, and she had her water bottle planted right by the calf raise machine. That was the only one of those in the gym, and I needed it, unless I was going to deviate from my written plan--which I absolutely hate to do. During my rest period, I mulled it over. I hate being seen as intrusive, so ultimately I did a different calf exercise.

            Today, the shoe was on the other foot. While I was doing tricep pull-downs, I was wearing headphones, and a woman who thought I couldn't hear her glanced at me and said to her partner, "Yeah, but he's using that one. We can just use this one." I pulled off my headphones and told them they could work in with me. They shyly accepted the offer.

            What is it with this? Is there some unwritten rule that says it's rude to ask to work in, even though the terms of the contract specifically state that working-in should be accommodated as much as is reasonable? I've tried to pay attention to whether I ever hear anyone else asking to work in when the gym is really busy, and I haven't heard it happen yet. I would never think it unreasonable of anyone to ask to work in with me on a pulley machine, but somehow I'd feel presumptuous asking others.
            Are you a bigger dude? Sounds like she just didn't want to intrude. I find girls do not like to intrude as much and shy away, and if you are an even bigger guy, the effect is compounded (males would probably steer clear from you too).

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            • #7
              My wife trains with me and she is extremely amused that about 90% of the time when I nicely ask someone if I can work in, they usually look at me, say they are done and get up and leave. I sometimes feel bad for like 1 second.....nah, I really don't. LOL
              -KidRok-
              "...because I won't accept that I can't."


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              • #8
                Come to think of it, I don't remember the last time someone asked to work in with me.
                -KidRok-
                "...because I won't accept that I can't."


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                • #9
                  If I want to work in, I'll ask how many more sets they have, then decide if it's worth asking, or waiting for.

                  In general, I find that "etiquette" varies depending on people's manners and disposition. The approach is important - more flies w/ honey...but no matter how nice you are, some people will be intimidated or shy and give up the machine, or not ask you to let them work in (but I am probably kind of scary to people who don't know me). Some people are just selfish. It's hit or miss, though I find a lot of people are willing or even happy to share.
                  2014 Greater Gulf States 2nd WPD Class B
                  2010 Jr. USA 2nd LHW
                  2009 Houston Pro/Am 1st LHW & Overall (Am)
                  2008 Jr. Nationals 5th LHW
                  2007 Greater Gulf States 1st LHW
                  2007 LA Championships 1st LHW & Overall

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Hop View Post
                    My wife trains with me and she is extremely amused that about 90% of the time when I nicely ask someone if I can work in, they usually look at me, say they are done and get up and leave. I sometimes feel bad for like 1 second.....nah, I really don't. LOL
                    I get this one a lot, too.

                    Also, when someone asks if Im using a machine, I'll usually offer to let them work in (if feasible), but almost always get no answer or they don't take me up on it.

                    Originally posted by phoenix13 View Post
                    If I want to work in, I'll ask how many more sets they have, then decide if it's worth asking, or waiting for.

                    In general, I find that "etiquette" varies depending on people's manners and disposition. The approach is important - more flies w/ honey...but no matter how nice you are, some people will be intimidated or shy and give up the machine, or not ask you to let them work in (but I am probably kind of scary to people who don't know me). Some people are just selfish. It's hit or miss, though I find a lot of people are willing or even happy to share.
                    I think some folks simply don't know that there is / was a kind of etiquette or sharing.

                    Like re-racking weights, this is a function of the gym ownership. If folks are instructed on simple basic things like this when the join, it would solve a lot of issues.

                    I had a list of "Gym Rules" that really kind of outlined the obvious when I ran my gym. I haven't seen that at any of the half dozen gyms I've been to here in Tampa.

                    -S
                    The Book Has Arrived!
                    The Book Has Arrived!

                    Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a pristine, well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, used up, worn out, and shouting, "Holy #$&^%$^... What a ride!!!"


                    www.TrueNutrition.com

                    2012 NPC Master's Nationals HW 5th. Mid-USA HW & Overall
                    2010 NPC Jr. USA HW 4th, Pacific USA Heavy 2nd
                    2009 NPC Mr. Arizona HW & Overall, Jr. Nationals HW 16th, Smoked at USA's

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                    • #11
                      This phenomenon will only worsen in 3 weeks or so lol
                      I see you didn't take a s#!t before deadlifting....
                      I too like to live dangerously

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by DC_catholic315 View Post
                        This phenomenon will only worsen in 3 weeks or so lol
                        uggggg
                        -KidRok-
                        "...because I won't accept that I can't."


                        www.https://Truenutrition.com/
                        5% OFF with Discount Code "FXL222"

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                        • #13
                          I try and stay hyper observant in the gym these days, especially during the peak hours (which I do my best to avoid at all costs). I once had a young man on cell phone who was so caught up on checking his "flex" in the mirror and chatting on the phone that he actually crossed my bar path during my decent on a squat. It was a substantial weight for me to control and when he tapped the bar with his arm I nearly toppled from the momentum shift. The point is, being hyper observant I can usually see ques that people are waiting on a piece of equipment and if I am doing a marathon set (say 6 to 10 sets of a particular exercise), I will oftentimes approach the person b/w sets and say hop on in anytime you want. I will usually interject a joke that cracks on my age and say "the exercise rest time between sets helps my old bones, so feel free to jump in anytime". I told my fiance the same thing, to treat the gym like your driving, and lift "defensively", stay aware of all of your surroundings because most of these folks are usually to busy staring in the mirror or at the booty on the stair master to pay any attention to what's going on around them.

                          To another point, speaking with her, she is often too shy/intimidated to ask someone to work in, especially if it's a "bigger" dude. I tell her ask away, because what guy wouldn't want some pretty young thing working in with them, if anything her pleasant smell will help mask their fart funk.

                          I can also tell when someone is in that "zone", maybe a couple weeks out and you can see those tell tell signs. For instance, a few months back I was on the stair stepper doing a small bout of cardio reading a kindle book (I know a few years back Skip joked about people being able to read and do cardio at the same time, most likely means that they aren't doing it hard enough, but in my defense I was reading Homon's book LoL). But in walks a guy with sunken face and an "I hate my life" look over by the the wall looking at the three occupied stair machines (one by me, two by some chatty kathy's talking about a sale at Sears). I slid down and motioned for him to snag mine, as he has something more substantial on his horizon and all I am doing is getting making the ticker beat a little bit which is just as doable on the treadmill.

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                          • #14
                            Meh. I'm 6'6" at about 220. I'm fit, but have been out of the iron game for a few years and only doing bodyweight/sandbag exercises. I doubt that my physique would frighten anyone.

                            I really think it's a shame that anyone is ever shy about politely asking to work in on a machine where the weight adjustment is quick and easy. I'm all about doing everything I can do to help myself AND others achieve their goals as efficiently as possible.

                            As for not racking dumbbells, or racking them in the wrong place--that, like littering, should be punishable by death. It's a huge problem at this gym. I don't think that the fact that people haven't been specifically instructed on this point is any excuse for leaving dumbbells in the wrong place. Don't you have to pass some basic test in "matching things with things that are the same" to graduate from kindergarten to first grade?
                            "Be kind, friendly and lenient towards your fellow man, but unrelenting and pitiless with yourself." -- Franz Bardon

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                            • #15
                              I usually find something else if I can. Last week I tried to get a guy to move his off the floor deads from the last available squat rack so I could squat. I guess there was miscommunication because he thought we would work in with each other. He made this clear on set 3 when I had 315 on. I thought he was just going to move... We had a little argument about gym etiquette but I ended up leaving and squatting in the smith machine. I should have just left it alone.

                              Funny story that my friends give me shit about all the time. I guess I tend to look pissed off all the time (don't mean to) and listen to my music like I'm deaf. I usually ask people near a machine if it looks like it's being used or if someone is in close proximity to it before jumping on it. Well with my headphones in and so called pissed off face, I yelled at a guy "ARE YOU USING THAT!" he threw his hands up and was like good god no! Wasn't intentional but it worked haha.
                              2014 KC All Star Championships 5th novice mw
                              2015 KC All Star Championships 3rd open mw, 3rd masters 40+
                              2016 Branch Warren 1st masters 40+, 3rd open mw

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