Toxic gym culture harms everyone at gym

When encountering toxic gym culture, consider working to correct it and improving the group dynamic. Those less comfortable in the gym will be grateful for your advocacy.


By putting others down to make themselves feel more secure, a couple of bad apples at the gym has the potential to ruin everyone’s workout by increasing tension and gym nerves.
At public gyms, many people are already nervous about working out in front of other people. People of all levels of experience can get nervous that someone is judging their form, workout routine or physique.
This is exacerbated by people making comments or being rude to people less experienced.
At my local gym, most people are courteous and always willing to help.
Most people bring a positive dynamic to the weight lifting room.
Unfortunately, like is seen at many gyms, some people do not contribute to the gym’s dynamic in a constructive way.
Some people consider themselves more worthy of gym space because of how much they lift. Some people feel like it is appropriate to put others, even friends, down based on a number as irrelevant as how much weight they lift.
Lifting a lot of weight is impressive, but by itself, it says nothing about someone’s character or quality as a person.
Anyone working on maintaining or improving their health is valid. No matter how much they lift, no one has the right to bear judgment on someone else on their health journey.
Many people in the gym are there because they are insecure or unhappy with their health. People who lift heavy aren’t necessarily any different. This insecurity can cause them to project and compensate by putting others down.
Comments belittling the amount of weight people use make everyone in the gym uncomfortable and bring the vibe down. Even outside the gym, these comments are not welcome.
Ego is something that many athletes and lifters deal with. In the right context, competition can make you push yourself harder and find new limits. However, when competitive spirit turns into ego, it is toxic to oneself and the surrounding people.
Competitive spirit flourishes when people are able to lay aside their insecurities about losing and be satisfied that they did their absolute best.
Ego lifting, which is when people use too much weight and compromise form, leads to people hurting themselves and potentially permanently stunting their ability to lift in the long term.
This is not healthy. Even though they are lifting and working out, they are not taking care of their bodies and are putting themselves in harm’s way, the same way being extremely inactive would.
When you encounter a bad apple at the gym, at the very least, don’t allow them to influence your workout.
Do your own thing with confidence and remember your self truths that you are worthy of using gym space and equipment.
Focus on your safety even if their influence makes you want to add more weight than you are comfortable with.
If you are comfortable with your self truths, consider calling out the toxic behavior. It benefits the good of the group, and sometimes can help someone correct their behavior.
Asking the person why they feel they have the right to make fun of someone for how much weight they are using will make everyone in the gym feel more comfortable and know that they are valid.
Being willing to call out toxic behavior is something that is very difficult, but very important. Do what is right and what you feel comfortable with.
Strive to leave the gym a better place than you left it.