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Gym Quirks

Consciously or unconsciously, we display quirks and superstitions while working out at the gym.

Everyone has some weird things they do at the gym, right?

In June 2013, I wrote about some of the quirky things (see: rituals) that I deal with when I train at my CrossFit box in an article called Grinder Quirks. In that piece, I talked about how I freak out if all the words on the weights don’t all face in toward my hands, using chalk as a time-wasting device to take longer breaks, not doing reps on cracks between the rubber mats (because it’s bad luck) and never taking a break on the 13th rep in a workout.

I had some good feedback from this article, and with Halloween just wrapping up this weekend, I wanted to know what other kinds of quirks and superstitions people adhered to out there in the community. So I took to social media and fielded some responses. Turns out, I’m not the only one who follows some unorthodox habits.


For Gwyneth, one of my Team Series teammates, she needs things to be all “squared away” before she feels comfortable starting her training. “The box has to be perfectly in the middle of the mat and right over the mat crease, or else I feel like I will not make the jump,” Gwyneth said in regards to her box-jump setup.

But it doesn’t stop there. Her pull-up station needs to be all set, geographically speaking, “It’s pretty much the same for my [pull-up] bar [being squared up on the mat],” she said.

For Gwyneth, it’s not just about how she does her workouts in the gym, sometimes it’s a matter of where. “I always do the WOD on the bottom left back corner of the floor [next to the rig] … I guess I don’t do well with change,” she said.

Not everyone shares my quirks, and in fact one athlete, Mike, sees things in a completely different way when it comes to organizing his plates before he lifts. “I always face the words on the plates out, and also when going for heavy lifts, I never step over the bar. I always go around it,” he said.

Mike admitted that it is more of a learned behavior, which just manifested into his own quirky superstition. “As long as I can remember, since I began lifting weights, an old gym coach said to always face the letters and numbers outward, dating back to seventh grade or something,” he said.

When it comes down to why he has to address the bar in a specific way, that’s not as clear. “In regards to the bar, I don’t remember the specifics, but I was going for a max lift, and to save time and effort [of course], I stepped over the bar and missed the lift, a lift that I should have gotten easily,” Mike said. “Ever since that time, I always have to walk around the bar and approach from the same direction every time.”

These types of habits make sense to the individual and largely go unnoticed by the other members of the box. Each time I share my own with other people and, to my relief, hear tales of other people’s quirks and superstitions, it only affirms that mine are just as equally “normal” as the next person.

I’m sure there are tons of quirky habits and other traditions that CrossFit athletes follow all over the world. What are some of yours? Share them with us in the comments.

Stay on the Grind.