Gym Etiquette 101: Please keep your shoes on…

For those who don’t know, when Arnold Schwarzenegger was in his prime, and also ridiculously juiced out of his mind, he often did several exercises barefoot in the gym. Squats and deadlifts were two of those exercises he chose to go sans footwear, and the trend has continued into 2017.

It seems almost like a daily ritual I see some guy walking around the gym in his socks. I, like many in the gym, are wondering where in the heck this guy’s shoes are. As I watch where he goes, I see him head to the squat rack where he is blasting out a one rep max of 185-pounds, and thank goodness he was barefoot to fully engage all those tiny muscles in his feet and ankles.

While Arnold swore by squatting and deadlifting barefoot, it doesn’t mean this has to occur in today’s gyms. At Arnold’s time, there was very few choices in footwear. Chuck Taylors, which actually have the flat sole many lifters long for, were popular, but many just chose to ditch those for nothing. In today’s day and age, there are a ridiculous number of training shoes which can help give people the feel they want without the the risk of not wearing anything on their feet in the gym.

You might be reading this wondering just why it is such a big deal if someone wears just socks in the gym?

First, the gym floor is a disgusting place. People sweat and track dirt all over the gym. That is hardly a place you would want to even wear just socks, let alone bare feet, something I’ve seen only once in my time pumping iron.

Second, shoes provide some, albeit little, protection for your feet. Ever witness someone drop a 25-pound plate on their toe from chest height? I have, and it shattered their big toe, while were wearing shoes. Most injuries in the gym are to the fingers and toes, so why increase the risk of injuring a toe and putting yourself out of the gym for the long term as the appendage heals?

Lastly, no one, and I mean no one, wants to be around someone without their shoes on while they workout. If you are working hard, and sweating, your shoes and socks will likely be producing a rather pungent smell. One which will only deter others from getting the workout they want at the same time anywhere close to your repulsive feet.

If you see someone in your gym participating in this practice, you can handle it a couple of ways. You could politely ask them to put their shoes on, you could ignore it and move somewhere else in the gym or you could notify the staff and see if they could post a sign, or talk to the person, about how hygiene is the utmost importance in a public facility.

Either way, save the barefoot working out to if you are on a beach, or…well, really that is the only place you should be working out barefoot unless you are taking yoga. Otherwise, keep your damn shoes on!!


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