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“Work in” between sets. If every gym member practiced this exercise etiquette tip, we would all save time and frustration! If you are performing two or three sets on a machine, you need to rest 30-60 seconds in between sets. If someone is waiting on you, offer to let them "work in" with you, which means they exercise while you rest and vice versa. Sometimes people will just sit on the machine while they rest, not getting up or offering to let someone else work in. If that's the case, simply ask, "Can I work in with you?" Usually, he or she will say yes.
Go for the unconventional. The most popular pieces of cardio equipment are treadmills and elliptical trainers. If those are occupied, get on the stationary bike, stair climber, or—my personal favorite—the rowing machine. Many gyms have large, open areas with aerobics steps, jump ropes and other small pieces of equipment that you can use. Don't be afraid to try something new or ask for help using a piece of equipment that might be new to you.
Use the group fitness room. If your gym has a group fitness room that isn't in use, find out if you can use it yourself. Many fitness centers will leave these rooms unlocked, often with access to small weights, resistance bands, jump ropes, and even Spinning bikes. If it's open and there's no class going on, take advantage of this room when the gym is crowded. If your fitness center locks the group fitness room when it's not in use, talk to the staff to work out an alternative.
Take it outside. Treadmills full? Take a walk or run outside. Consider hitting the open sidewalks, city streets, and roads instead of waiting on the treadmill. Warm up on the gym stairs or by taking a few laps around the building instead of waiting on a bike, for example. What parts of your workout can you complete at home or outside before heading to the fitness area? It beats waiting around!
Consider a 24-hour option. Even though I can't imagine working out at 1:00 a.m., some gyms are open 24 hours. For someone who works nights or another non-traditional schedule, that may be the best time to work out. Longer hours allow people to exercise whenever they want. If your gym doesn't open early enough or stay open late enough, talk to the manager. If enough members make the same request, it just might happen!