Re: Gym Social Norms
I think a lot of gym ethics are relative to the type of environment. In a hardcore gym, I don't see a problem leaving "normal" starting weight on a machine. In fact most people who are waiting for the machine will say "go ahead and leave that on". Its almost disrespectful to leave a machine naked, like an insult someone would use less than a plate. But in a place like lifestyle fitness, its considered discourteous. People will give you dirty looks.
Also, I've noticed in my gym everyone is germ conscious. I guess if someone sweats then moves on it doesn't bother me (as long as they're not nasty, or sweating excessively). But for some people, they sanatize the entire machine before they get on, then again when they get off. Too me that's a waste of time when I'm in a groove. I also don't remember anyone caring about such protocols at the hardcore gym I used to work out at.
Finally, people trying to carry on a conversation with you in a gym is annoying. That's why I just wear headphones, and enter the pain zone. I don't have much to say when I'm working out and it distracts my attention and visualization techniques.