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Noise Pollution

I worked out in a gym last week that had on display the biggest indoor sign I’d ever seen. It was more like a billboard, in 2000 point font, hanging above the dumbbell rack: DO NOT DROP WEIGHTS.

The dropping of weights, dumbbells in particular, seems to be one of the top etiquette issues at every gym. I too am offended when people let their dumbbells crash to the ground – but only because of the damage done to the dumbbells themselves.

Heavy dumbbells that smash into the floor at an angle will bend into a c-shape, upsetting the way they balance in your hands. The weights on battered dumbbells can also come loose from the handle, and sometimes even break off. (Good luck getting your gym to fix or replace that dumbbell anytime soon.)

I think that what gyms are rallying against, however, is the bone-rattling noise of falling iron. And here’s where I say: what do you expect? I’m grateful for the gyms that furnish 100+ lb dumbbells, a rare commodity in this age of express, female-targeted health clubs. But, I can also tell you that when I reach failure at the end of a set of dumbbell bench presses, I have little control over how the weights find their way to the floor. I try to ensure that the dumbbells hit flat, to avoid breaking the equipment. Beyond that, I just want to make sure that they don’t tear my arms off on the way down.

I used to work out at a gym located on the second floor of a small strip mall. I was scolded several times by management for all my clanging and banging doing deadlifts with a 345 lb barbell. It wasn’t the gym that cared about the noise, however, but the poor tenants on the first floor who endured the sounds of an avalanche all day long.

So here’s a note to landlords: don’t lease space to a gym above the ground floor. And gyms: don’t lease space above the ground floor if you want your members to enjoy their regular workout.

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  1. I hate when the dumbbells crash to the floor and try my hardest not to let it happen…especially since I enjoy DB’s more than BB’s.

  2. I work out at a CrossFit gym. CrossFit uses Olympic weight training techniques which come directly from Olympic coaches. We’re taught that learning how to properly let the weight drop to the floor is essential for safety when lifting heavy weights. In fact, it’s impossible to get past a certain weight level unless you have the option to let the weight drop safely. There WILL be times when you just need to release the weight or you’ll do damage to yourself. Of course, in regular gyms, the weights are made of iron. In CrossFit gyms, the weights are made of rubber. Same weight, different material, no floor damage, one-tenth the noise.

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