The following situation has happened to me several times:

A user in the gym is using some machine or equipment (a bench, a row machine, a bar, etc.). When I'm going to use another machine or equipment that it's apparently free, this user comes quickly and says "Sorry, I'm also using this machine". It usually happens when the user is doing some kind of combined exercises (for instance, doing a bench press and then immediately afterwards, using the cable row machine to "finish" their chest).

To me, the user isn't really using both machines, but instead, they are using one machine and "reserving" the use of another one (sometimes the user "marks" this machine as reserved by putting a barbell or a small towel over it), and I have the impression that this is not a legit action with regards to the use of a gym's piece of equipment, because one person can only use one machine at a time, and preventing other users to use other machines just because they are happening to be doing a combined exercise is not fair for other users, which don't deserve to wait. So in these situations I think I would perfectly be entitled to refuse to leave the "reserved" machine, remove the item set by the other user to mark the machine and, at most, I could offer the user to share the machine with me.

How could I explain my point to the other user in the least confrontational way?

  • Welcome here, have you suggested that you can try to sync time so you perform both your exercices ? It is pretty common to share a machine among multiple people since you usually have a rest time to respect between each exercice.
    – Walfrat
    Feb 4 '19 at 8:09

It might be helpful for a future encounter with such a person to do a little digging ahead of time.

I would ask the gym for their terms of use and gym etiquette policy. Most gyms will have such a document, and it often does state that gym users are only allowed to use one machine at a time, kind of similar to a fair usage policy. Often there are posters placed around the gym as well.

If something like this happens again, and the gym does have a policy of no equipment reservations, you can simply refer the person to the gym policies. I might say something like:

This gym’s policy for equipment usage is no reservations. I would like to use this machine right now. I'm planning on spending x amount of time on it and then you can use it after me.

I tend to be a more direct person and I like to state my case simply, clearly, and directly. If the person has an issue with this you can direct them to the staff and the rules of the facility.

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