No matter a man or a woman you are, it’s all about good manners! Good gym etiquette really just amounts to being aware of how your behavior affects other people and not treating the equipment like it’s your own personal stairmaster. Ultimately, it’s about keeping everyone safe in buildings that are full of heavy equipment. Easy enough, right?
So you decided it was time to join a gym. Great! For some, that’s the hardest part – but for others, they can dread stepping into the gym for their first time.
New people, tons of equipment, and loud noises as a gym-newbie can be intimidating enough, but then add-in the set of secret, unwritten gym rules you need to somehow figure out and follow? We get it – the stress is real! The good thing is that we’re here to crack the code so you don’t have to.
22 Etiquette Tips To Help You Be The Right Person At The Gym
1. Be nice to newbies
We were all first-timers once, figuring out cardio machines and class moves. If someone looks a little lost or they’re trying to figure out your favorite machine when you want to use it, being welcoming and not intimidating will make the gym a nicer space for everyone.
2. Be polite
Use basic manners like, “please,” “thank you,” and “excuse me.”
Leave room for others, in front of the mirror and on the mat. Be mindful of who you might be blocking from checking their form and allow that others might have to cross into your personal space during group workouts.
3. Ask for help
Ask for help if you need it! Don’t be afraid to ask an employee, personal trainer, or fellow gym-goer if you can’t figure out a machine or need more information. And don’t be shy about asking for a spotter if you need a little extra muscle while performing difficult or heavy lifts, like squats, bench presses or deadlifts.
Ask the trainers for assistance with how to properly use the equipment. You can ask fellow members too, but only if you’re certain they prefer not to be interrupted. Take the free equipment tour and learn as much as you can.
Don’t attempt to solve any conflicts yourself – If you have a problem or you think that something may be starting it is best to get a trainer or gym employee to help mediate to calm the situation down.
4. Leave your phone
Many gyms actually have strict rules about cell phones, but some don’t.
Whether you’re blabbing on the phone, trying to get the perfect gym selfie to show-off your muscles, or mindlessly scrolling social media in between bench press sets or while in the squat rack, chances are you’re not paying attention to what’s going on around you and you’re most likely wasting not only your time, but others’ time, too.
Plus, if you’re looking to get the best results from a workout, phones are the ultimate enemy. Not only do they cause you to lose focus, they also lower the intensity of your workout, too. Oh, and by the way, don’t even get us started on phones in the locker room – that’s an even bigger no-no.
5. Don’t sit on equipment if not using it
Sitting on equipment is basically calling dibs. Even if it’s a bench, try not to sit on it if you’re just chatting with a friend. Someone might need that bench, and they might not feel comfortable asking you to move.
If you need to sit, find a space that’s designated for sitting, like a lounge area or a locker room.
6. Bring a towel. Use it.
You might not believe us now, but your sweat towel will be your best friend. Laying a towel down on a bench or machine before you use it can save you the embarrassment of leaving a puddle of sweat for the next person. If you happen to sweat through the towel (no problem, it happens), be sure to wipe down your equipment with disinfectant spray and paper towels. Nobody wants to sit in someone else’s sweat!
Gyms can be some of the most germ-ridden places you can go. One study found that 63 per cent of gym equipment showed the presence of rhinovirus (which causes the common cold), with weight training equipment more affected than cardio machines.
Viruses love nonporous surfaces such as steel weights in particular. So, for both your own sake and the sake of other patrons, use that towel.
7. Clean up after yourself
A lot of ladies feel that because they didn’t ‘sweat’ while using a particular machine that they do not need to clean it, this is not so. If everyone felt that way, we’d have a lot of bodies sitting on equipment that never got sanitized.
Even if you don’t have a small towel with you, pretty much every gym will have paper towels on hand so you can dry off equipment. Not only is it unpleasant to sit in someone else’s sweat, it’s also unhygienic.
8. Have good hygiene
Avoid loud coughing, heavy body odor, or stinky farts while exercising. If you need to break wind, politely go to the restroom. Always shower any apply a deodorant prior to exercising in public areas.
Men, especially, should exercise with an underarm anti-antiperspirant not merely a deodorant. Sweating is required for cooling the body down but most of the odor arises from the armpits and deodorants won’t stop the body odor.
Sweaty gym gear needs to be washed and dried and not worn twice and this can lead to unpleasant odors and chaffing.
9. Share equipment
There is nothing worse than someone who hogs or hoards equipment for themselves. Don’t leave your towel on a machine and walk away expecting that the machine will still be available when you return. This can lead to conflict. Everyone has a right to use the equipment and trying to save it is the wrong thing to do except for a very short drinks break or a towel down.
When you see someone who is working through their set, it’s always okay to ask if they mind if you ‘work in’. This simply means that while they give their body a minute to relax and do some stretching, you can get in a set of your own.
Be sure to perform your set quickly after selecting your own weight and seat height. Be sure to note what the other person’s weight and seat height is so you can adjust it for them before they do their next set.
If you don’t enjoy sharing sets with others, be aware of how much time you’re spending on a particular machine, especially during prime busy times. Limit yourself to 30 minutes on cardio equipment and about 5 mins maximum for each weight machine.
10. Put weights away
Gyms are public spaces you’re sharing with lots of other people, so it’s up to everyone using that space to keep it clean and organized.
It’s annoying if you can’t find what you’re looking for, and potentially dangerous if you find it lying around on the gym floor, so put your weights back where they belong.
You might be able to lift all those weights, but some of your other fellow gym-goers may not. As with putting things away where you found them, leave the weights bar ready for the next user.
11. Don’t be late, be on time
If there is a yoga or spinning class already in session, use common sense and skip the class this time if you are late making sure you arrive early the next time and work out in the gym area instead.
There is nothing more distracting than warming up and having people open/close doors, talk and get set up next to you when a class is 10 mins in and instructors loathe this inconsiderate behavior – it’s just not fair to anyone.
Many gyms run tight schedule of 30-minute time schedules for cardio machines during peak periods. If the gym is busy, don’t be late nor keep others waiting by going overtime. If you need a really long cardio workout then go to the gym during the less busy times.
12. Gym is not for socializing
You can often notice women arrive together to workout and just socialize, not taking their workout seriously but monopolizing the equipment in the process.
Socialize at Starbucks, if you’re going to truly workout, make sure both you and your workout partner understand each other’s goals not only for your own sake but to be courteous of those who will want to share the equipment.
Also, don’t chat with others who are on equipment, let them do their thing and you can catch up later.
13. Dress appropriately
Read the clothing and other rule or ask – typically gyms will require users to:
- wear a shirt
- not to wear jeans (they can ruin the vinyl on the equipment)
- wear closed toe shoes
- if in doubt to err on the safe side and don’t wear clothes that you think could offend others.
Many women dress scantily clad while working out in the hopes of ‘meeting a man’. Be sure that if you’re wearing a sports bra top that it covers everything and doesn’t expose nipples or show cleavage.
Pants, shorts or capris should not slide down and expose your bottom or underwear while working out. Shorts should be a reasonable length as to not expose yourself while doing hip adductor/abductor, bending exercises, etc. Form fitting materials are appropriate for the gym, but know where to draw the line.
Don’t wear your jewelry as it is too easy to lose various items and they can cause injuries.
14. Using make-up tip
When exercising in make-up, the best advice is ‘less is best’. Pores on your skin can be easily clogged by makeup and sweat causing ingrown hairs and pimples. If women feel they need something then use a light mineral foundation, a little mascara and some moisturizing lip balm and eye cream.
15. Wear sweat-wicking apparel
We all sweat, especially when you’re putting in hard work at the gym (which you should be!). Wearing light, sweat-wicking t-shirts and lower body apparel can be an instant game-changer, even more so for those who get extra sweaty.
It may seem like cotton t-shirts (or a cotton sports bra for women) may be the play here, but we promise that it’s not. Although cotton is breathable when it’s dry, its issue is that it can get heavy and weighed down as soon as you break a sweat, causing the material to stick to you and can cause chafing. Ouch!
16. Don’t irritate others
One of the biggest no-no’s in the gym is hovering while waiting for someone to be done with equipment. Nobody likes to be rushed, and no one likes someone in their personal space either, and hovering does both of those things. Don’t make others uncomfortable by staring at them.
If someone is using a piece of equipment don’t try to hurry them up. Make them aware that you want to use the equipment next, but do something else in the meantime.
Don’t offer unsolicited advice. There are trainers for this. If you’re asked and would like to be sociable, volunteer only what you know for sure.
17. Be respectful of music
This one works both ways — if you see someone wearing headphones, it could be a sign they don’t want to be disturbed, and if you’re the one wearing headphones, keep the volume down and don’t disturb others with your pumping playlist.
18. Keep the noise down
As well as being mindful of your music, don’t slam or drop your weights on the floor, causing a mini-earthquake, and try to keep your own gym grunts and noises to a minimum.
You don’t need to whisper and tip-toe around like you’re in a library, but no matter how big your muscles are, you should still try to keep all grunting, groans, and self pep-talks to a minimum. Don’t drop expletives, and don’t drop your weights either.
19. Never make fun of other gym-goers
This rule should go completely without saying, but if there’s one piece of gym etiquette you follow, this should be it.
No secret Snapchats of the person on the next machine. No Instagram stories of person on the treadmill in front of you. Invading their privacy for any reason is just wrong.
20. Bathroom & Locker Room Manners
Some people are more modest than others, some have no problem at all stripping nude in front of complete strangers while others prefer privacy. Decide this ahead of time so you’ll know if you’d like to change in an individual stall or in the open area.
The same holds true for showering. Most showering facilities are private with a shower curtain but some still are not. Always leave the change room and bathroom as clean as you found it. For some reason these areas can get really messy, be sure to pick up after yourself.
21. Don’t hog the locker space
It’s important to keep things polite in the locker rooms as well as on the gym floor, so don’t leave your belongings lying everywhere. Remember that other people will probably want to use showers, mirrors and hairdryers too, especially during busy times.
22. Be mindful of your surroundings
Gyms can be dangerous places if you’re not alert. On busy times of day in particular, you have to be super-mindful of the other patrons; don’t start doing dumbbell kickbacks without checking behind you, for example.
Also, sometimes poorly laid out gyms have machines with their plate-loaded arms swinging out into a thoroughfare and if you’re not looking where you’re going, you might be in for a headache.
If you want to be a real champion, look out for your fellow gym-goers and help them out if you see them struggling; maybe offer to spot them.
With good etiquette comes the self-awareness that allows you to respond suitably to the people and situations around you. It sets a pleasant tone for your workout and makes the gym a great place to be for everyone. It’s great practice for the big, unpredictable world that’s exactly what your workout is for.
The rules of the gym are basically the rules of life. Be kind to other people, and clean up after yourself. Just like the gym, we share this world together, so let’s act like it.