Do: Tell me if I’m about to hurt myself.
One time, when I was at my old gym, a young gentleman of about my age came up to me while I was on the squat rack and informed me that I in fact had a five-pound plate on one side of my bar, and a ten-pound plate on the other side, which would have resulted in a very unbalanced squat. I was extremely appreciative of this information, because no one wants to list to starboard while doing their squats. Thank you, unnamed man, for protecting my spine in a respectful way!
Don’t: Assume I’m going to hurt myself
I have actually had people come up to me at the gym and say, “Are you sure you can lift all that?” or “That’s a lot of weight for a little girl like you!” Bro: I got this.
Do: Correct my form
This falls under the category of “let me know if I’m about to hurt myself.” If I have terrible form on an exercise and I’m about to snap my shit up, I welcome advice, even from complete strangers. Please feel free to come up to me and tell me I’m arching my back too much. I would rather momentarily feel like a dickhead than have a slipped disc or two.
Don’t: Touch me when doing it.
This may seem obvious, but sadly, it must not be. DO NOT, under any circumstances, lay your hands on me when demonstrating proper form. If you cannot demonstrate without touching me, you are a) a poor teacher and b) possibly a molester. My body is my body, period, and I need it intact to fight off potential molesters and evil clowns.
Do: Offer to help me.
If you see me struggling with a high weight, you are well within your rights to offer me a spot. Even if you don’t know me, I understand that your interest is in making sure I don’t get hurt, and I appreciate that. If you see me loading a shit ton of plates, you are not being forward to offer to help me load up. I consider these things of things routine, friendly gym behavior.
Don’t: Automatically assume I require help.
If you see that I may desire assistance, ask me first. Don’t just hop on over and start helping me unload plates, no matter how weak you may perceive I look. I know that you are just trying to be nice, but it makes me feel like a kindergartner. When in doubt – always ask first.