I want to revisit the subject of gym etiquette, and I'm going to tryyyyy to do it sans angry soapbox. What can I say? Must be feeling warm and fuzzy today...
In particular, I'd like to talk about the proper way to share strength equipment. I don't do a lot of machine work as a general rule, but I often avoid it all together at my fitness center because most of the other residents use weight machines exclusively, save for the occasional set of dumbbell bicep curls. So I typically have the free-weight area to myself, which is how I like it.
Today, however, there was only one other person in the gym when I finished doing cardio, and he was on the upright bike, so I figured I was safe to do a circuit of five machine exercises: four of them on the dual cable column, plus some lat pulldowns. All was going smoothly until a new guy came in and sat down on the lat pull, not to use it but because he clearly wanted to get on the cable column. I know this because he stared at me (all the more awkward because he was sitting literally two feet from where I was standing, and the stare was directed mostly at my butt) until I turned around and gestured toward the lat pull. He helpfully got out of the way---and promptly removed the bar I'd been using and replaced it with another handle. (Note: The dual cable column has two separate weight stacks, and I was only using one. He could have easily set up shop on the other side...but whatever, not here to complain.) I completed a second set of lat pulls and relocated; he stayed on that one cable stack for the remainder of my workout.
Ok, so this anecdote is clearly meant to be illustrative of what not to do. But rather than analyze why this was so jerky of him, let's replay the situation the polite way. I'll be me, and you'll be you, wanting to use the machine I'm on:
You: (Enters the gym, waits patiently at a distance of no less than six feet away for me to finish my set, eyes averted, pretending to watch TV) Hey, would you mind if I work in some sets with you?
Me: (Smiles graciously) Sure thing, I'll be on the lat pull, then I have just one more set to finish here and it's all yours!
You: (Returns the smile) No problem!
Or, in an alternate scenario:
You: (See above) Hey, will I be in your way if I set up on the other side?
Me: (Same deal) No problem, I've got just one more set to finish here and then I'll be out of your hair!
You: (Yep) Thanks!
See how easy (and cheery, no less) that was? Everybody wins, and nobody gets the stinkeye.