Some of the best lessons you learned in kindergarten apply at the gym too: Play nice, share, and give everyone a turn. “Most gyms usually have a sign [listing] a time limit on cardio equipment, particularly during peak times before and after work,” Matthews says. Typically you’re allotted 30 minutes on sought-after equipment like treadmills and ellipticals. But if there’s no signage, and you’ve had a solid half hour in peace, give someone else a turn, she says.
If 30 minutes doesn’t feel like enough, change up your routine to make it more efficient, or switch gears entirely. “Jump on another piece of equipment, or do some strength training with weights,” Kalnes adds.
You need to remember to share in the weight room too, though. Take only the free weights you’re using in the moment–and leave the 15-pound dumbbells you plot to get to 20 minutes from now on the rack. “Be mindful not to take more equipment than you’re really using,” Matthews says. “Stockpiling is frowned upon.”
If you find yourself frequently waiting for machines or equipment, consider going to the gym at “off hours” if your schedule allows, Kalnes says. Between 10 am and noon, from 1 pm to 5 pm, and after 7:30 pm are usually quieter windows. Or beat the crowd entirely and go at the crack of dawn. “Be the earliest bird,” she says. “Get in around 6 am to beat all of the folks who come in around 6:30 or 7.”
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