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Proper etiquette isn’t just about balancing a book on your head By Courtney Shepherd and the good people of Boxlife Magazine
We have all experienced our parent’s best efforts to ingrain proper etiquette into our everyday behavior our entire lives. Say please and thank you. When you meet someone, use a firm handshake. Ladies cross your ankles when you sit. Men pull out the lady’s chair for her. Etc, etc. etc. Proper etiquette doesn’t just exist in our life outside the gym, turns out there is an etiquette that exists inside the CrossFit gym as well. Verve has it’s fair share of visitors, Verve also has it’s fair share of athletes that travel regularly for their job, often stopping off at gyms for a WOD while out of town. We also happen to have a nice group of newer members to Verve, so it seems like it might be a good opportunity to talk about some basic gym etiquette. There happens to be a list of some basic, universal etiquette that can help a buddy out, no matter if you are in your home gym or abroad. Boxlife magazine has made a list of “13 CrossFit Gym Etiquette Rules You Need To Know” (click here for full article). I warn you now, as I prepare to list them out, some of them have a blunt tone to them. There is no need to take offense or concern that this list was created or being shared to make anyone feel bad. I would instead look at it as a healthy reminder that we are all sharing the same space, equipment, and time together, continuing to be respectful of all these things is a part of what keeps us coming back and having fun.
Rule 1: Put. Your. Stuff. Away.
It can be hard to look and see plates left out or a stray band tied round a pull-up bar after class. Following your workout, please put your gear away. If you want to take it a step further, help your fellow athletes clean up too. Many hands make light work.
Rule 2: Don’t drop the barbell when you’re stripping the plates. Or ever.
When you are cleaning up, save your coach from a brain aneurysm and strip down your barbell properly. This means you should lift the barbell and slide the plates off of it, then place it back on the floor—don’t just let it crash to the ground. In general please do not drop an empty barbell. Please take the extra second to return them to the ground gently.
Rule 3: If you’ve sweated on the equipment, bled on the equipment or cried on the equipment, wipe it down.
Aside from being on obvious point of hygiene, it really isn’t a pleasant sensation to grab a wall ball that’s drenched in the previous user’s sweat. Grab a paper towel and/ or Clorox wipe (they are located through the gym), and take the 30 seconds to wipe down your equipment. Even if you tore during a pull-up workout but “didn’t bleed”, trust us, it’s still icky. Let’s keep Verve a “bodily fluids sharing free zone”.
Rule 4: Don’t steal other people’s equipment. Or be quick to move something out of your way.
When you’re setting up for a chipper (or any WOD that requires numerous pieces of equipment), you try to set up your area with the gear in such a way to make everything easily accessible as you switch from movement to movement. And this can even extend to the pull-up bar—especially if you need to attach a band. So if it gets taken and/ or moved in the middle of a WOD, you have every right to feel upset. It’s a CrossFit faux paux that should NEVER, EVER happen. Try to be aware of the people around you and where equipment may have come from. If you didn’t bring it over, it’s probably not yours. And if it’s there, it may be in use, check before you relocate it.
Rule 5: Don’t be late.
Maybe a minute or two is ok for some boxes, but I know there are some gyms that have burpee penalties for a late arrival, and others that simply turn an athlete away if they turn up 5 minutes after class has started. Unless it’s open gym, you can’t turn up whenever you please. This is a matter of respect not just for the trainer but your fellow class mates. Time can be wasted having to re-review instructions. It’s also a matter of safety, the risk of injury is greater without a proper warm-up. Life happens, we know, and sometimes tardiness can not be avoided but for the reasons listed above, we can’t be shocked if we are so late we are asked to wait for the next class. We must do our best to be on time. By the way, no one is too cool for warm-up.
Rule 6: Check in/Sign up for class.
This applies both to drop-ins and regular box attendees. Classes can get full, especially during very specific hours of the day. There have been times where there have been so many people in class that a WOD had to been altered because there wasn’t enough equipment/space to go around. There are class caps for a reason. At Verve we have always tried our best to accommodate, however doing so was much easier when we at least knew we were expecting a ton of people. Please, sign up for classes, it is the best way for a trainer/ gym to adequately prepare.
Rule 7: Pay attention when the coach is giving instruction.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve been doing CrossFit for 1 month or 5 years, it’s disrespectful to have your own private conversation or do your own thing when the coach is trying to give instruction to the class. You may know how to perform each movement off the top of your head, but not everyone does, so just be patient and quiet and let everyone get the full benefits of the coaches’ knowledge. Besides, you might learn something new about the lift that you would have otherwise missed.
Rule 8: Don’t have a conversation with someone in the middle of a workout.
Attempt to be respectful of people’s time and their desire to get a workout in for the day. If someone is sweating it out, lifting some weights, or taking a breather during a designated rest period in a workout. . . let them keep on keeping on, catch up with them when they are done.
Rule 9: If you ask to borrow an athlete’s gear—give it back when you’re done.
Have you ever had someone ask if they can borrow your roll of tape, only to find that they keep passing it off to every single person who suddenly needs to wrap themselves up like a mummy? If you borrow some gear, give it back when YOU are done with it—not the entire class. Borrowing a jump rope, knee sleeves, wrist wraps, return them promptly, be careful not to remove them post WOD and leave them behind for a trainer to pick up at the end of the day. Borrowing a sock for rope climbs. . . wash it and return it, promptly.
Rule 10: Don’t move the chalk bucket mid-WOD.
I believe that chalk, much like PEDs, are essentially to an athlete’s success in a workout. The buckets containing this white gold are usually tactically placed so as to be easily accessible to as many people as possible in the midst of a WOD. Please do not move it to your area, so it’s closest to just you. Please do not take the only actual block in the bucket out and set it next to your pull-up station. The chalk is there for everyone, no one needs to go hunting for it in the middle of a workout.
Rule 11: Respect an athlete’s space.
This is crucial for safety purposes, as well as the focus of the athlete. If someone is preparing for a major lift, don’t walk behind them, in front of them, or anywhere close to them. If they need to bail, the last thing a coach wants to see happen is the bar strike an athlete standing too close, or worse yet have an athlete fall back on to someone else’s equipment.
Rule 12: NO ghost riding.
Ghost riding refers to the phenomenon of dropping barbells, kettlebells and all manner of equipment from overhead, regardless of the situation or weight. This is important because dumbbells, kettlebells and barbells with thin plates can bounce when dropped from overhead and ricochet into yourself and other athletes. While it is very satisfying to hear the crash of the weights against the floor, try to reserve the sensation for the strictly heavy lifts. No need to be dramatic and throw barbells around. We can all manage some control to bring a bar down to the ground directly in front of us.
Rule 13: Introduce yourself to newcomers.
Hopefully your coach will take the initiative and announce a drop-in or a new member when you turn up for class. But you should view it as your duty as a member of your box to make sure that the new athlete feels welcome in a new environment—especially if it’s their first taste of CrossFit. We are a community, we support each other, cheer for each other, push each other, encourage each other, a tradition that should be upheld for the newbie and the OG.