The way you conduct yourself at the gym can make or break your martial arts learning experience.
If you go about your training sessions unknowingly committing taboos, then it may be challenging to find training partners to work with.
However, if you follow some common codes of conduct, then you will find your time at the gym more enjoyable.
With the help of three ONE Championship athletes, we reveal nine gym etiquette rules every martial arts newbie should follow.
#1 Make Friends
When you join a gym, you are going to be spending a lot of time there.
It makes sense to get to know everyone, so introduce yourself to the instructors, the staff, and the gym members.
Copa De Mundo BJJ World Champion Alex “Little Rock” Silva encourages all students to interact and get to know one another.
“Everyone is here to learn,” he says. “You see each other in class every day, so knowing your teammates and being friends will make learning more enjoyable.”
#2 Show Up On Time
Always be on time. Better yet, get to the gym early because showing up late is disrespectful to your instructor and everyone else in the class.
When you are late, not only do you miss precious minutes of training, but your tardiness could interrupt the flow of the lesson.
Of course, unexpected things – like rush-hour traffic and car breakdowns – do happen, and you will be late occasionally. But do not make being late a habit.
#3 Take Your Shoes Off
Most gym owners clean a few times a week because they do not want any bacteria lurking on their mats.
If you walk onto the mats with your sneakers on, you will bring unwanted bacteria into the training area.
With that said, take off your shoes before stepping onto the mats.
Also, if you need to go to the bathroom – or anywhere else in the gym that is not matted – put on flip-flops and stroll to your desired destination.
#4 Keep An Open Mind
Whether you are sparring with a friend in kickboxing or rolling with a complete stranger in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, expect to be tested physically and mentally.
Approach each lesson with an open mind. Heed your coach’s advice and be receptive to feedback if you want to grow and improve your skills.
“There are people who have delusions about how capable they are in defending themselves, the type of shape they are in, or even their fitness level,” he explains.
“You should come into the gym with an open mind and expect some adversity. Only then will you come out stronger.”
#5 Practice Cleanliness
Nothing is worse than rolling with someone who is wearing a smelly gi or sparring someone whose hands are wrapped in what smells like wet socks.
If your gym clothes or gear smell funky, then wash them. Also, shower after you train. If you could shower before you train as well, even better.
Finally, if you use a pair of gloves, shin guards, or any other piece of training equipment at the gym, then make sure you clean them with a disinfectant when you are done.
#6 Cover Your Wounds
If you have any open wounds, throw a band-aid or some other type of cohesive tape over it.
You do not want to run the risk of getting an infection, and you do not want to gross people out during class.
Not everyone will be comfortable clinching or rolling with someone who has an open cut.
#7 Clip Your Nails
Nothing is more annoying than training with someone who has long fingernails and toenails, so keep them short.
When practicing the clinch for Muay Thai, you will be using your hands quite a lot around your training partner’s neck.
If you do not keep your nails short, you run the risk of scratching their skin when jockeying for position and executing sweeps.
#8 Treat Others With Respect
Follow the golden rule: treat people the way you want to be treated.
Singapore’s own Tiffany “No Chill” Teo stresses the need to be cordial to both teammates and coaches.
“Don’t be that person who comes in with a know-it-all attitude,” she says. “Everyone is there to improve and regardless of our skill level, there is always something to learn.”
Also, no one likes to be disrespected, so keep that in mind when interacting with your fellow training partners and coaches.
#9 Don’t Hurt Your Training Partners
Not all your training partners want to compete in the ring. Some people just want to learn for fun or to get into shape, and that is important to remember.
“If you are always trying to beat your training partners, people may not want to work with you, and that makes the whole lesson not as fun anymore,” he says.
Be aware of your skill level, as well as your strengths and weaknesses, when working with another person. You are training to train another day. Your partner is, too.