Rule #1: Put. Your. Crap. Away. Your mother doesn’t work here. There’s nothing more infuriating for a box owner and coach to see plates left out or a stray band tied round a pull-up bar after class. Space and time is often a premium for a training class, and no one wants to waste it by cleaning up someone else’s shit. So do everyone a big favor and take pride in your box by putting your gear away. It’s really not that hard. 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. When you are cleaning up, save your coach from a brain aneurism 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. This is how they get damaged, and as your coach will tell you, they’re not cheap to replace.
Rule #3: If you’ve sweat 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 wetter than a new born baby, or sit your ass down on an abmat that might as well have been placed against the bare skin of the person before you. Grab a paper towel and disinfectant, and take the 30 seconds to wipe down your equipment. Please do it—for everyone’s sake.
Rule #4: Don’t steal other people’s equipment. 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 when some fool takes your wall ball or steals your bar in the middle of a WOD, you have every right to feel upset. It’s a huge faux paux that should NEVER, EVER happen.
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. Remember, the box isn’t a globo gym—you can’t turn up whenever you please (unless it’s Open gym). Classes run in a box, and people pay good money to attend them and get their hours’ worth of fitness and instruction. There are few other things more annoying than watching a straggler turn up and think they can just jump into class as if nothing has happened. Hell no, son. Go home, and have enough respect for your classmates and coaches to arrive on time.
Rule #6: Check in/Sign up for class. This applies both to drop-ins and regular box attendees. If you are a member of a popular gym, and you know that classes get pretty full, give your coach a heads up by signing up online. We’ve all been through WODs that have had to been altered significantly because there wasn’t enough equipment/space to go around, and it’s not fun. There are class caps for a reason, so save your coach the trouble of having to change the WOD around and just sign up.
Rule #7: Pay attention when the coach is giving instruction. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been doing workouts 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. If your “short” conversation is going to force me to warm up again, then you might want to save it till after the workout.
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? And you’ve always had a suspicion that someone else might have conveniently ‘lost’ those wrist straps you lent them a few weeks ago. Don’t be a jerk, if you borrow some gear, give it back when YOU are done with it—not the entire class.
Rule #10: 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 #11: Try to avoid 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. Don’t drop 10 and 15 lb plates…EVER. They aren’t strong enough to handle a drop from 6’.
Rule #12: 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. That’s the first step. 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 the gym. Furthermore, the new member will probably give a positive review of your box to their friends, which will bring in new business for your coach and help the community grow.
Rule #13: Don’t cheat. No one cares what your score is but they care if you cheat. Be honest with everyone else, and be honest with yourself. You know what full range of motion is, so there’s no excuse for shoddy reps. If someone calls you out for doing something wrong, listen to them. Constructive criticism can only help in the long run.
Rule #14: Check your ego at the door. Somewhere a high school kid is warming up with your PR. That’s how you get hurt. It’s not the fault of your coach or because it is too dangerous if you are trying to lift something that is too heavy. Be responsible to yourself. Strength takes a long time to come. Be patient.