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Gym Etiquette - the Do's and Don'ts

Gym Etiquette - the Do's and Don'ts

We’ve all been in the gym and have fallen victim to people who don’t practice good gym etiquette.

Amanda Edell NASM CPT, ACSM CP | @bodybyamanda |

We’ve all been in the gym and have fallen victim to people who don’t practice good gym etiquette.

Even if you aren’t aware of what proper gym etiquette is, the chances of you experiencing it (or lack of) are very high- especially if you’re a member of a big box commercial gym.

This could have looked something like getting sneezed or coughed on while working out by a fellow gym go-er, using equipment that someone clearly didn’t wipe down after use or being in the middle of your workout when the person next to you decides to take an hour long phone call with their mother gossiping loudly about his or her extended family.

Point blank - it’s not fun, polite, or sanitary. And quite frankly, It’s obnoxious and distracting.

For many new gym goers, the unspoken rules, or “gym etiquette” may not be so obvious, so how are we supposed to blame them if they’re not told?

Whether you’re a gym veteran or a novice, it’s important to stay mindful of the space and people around you while you’re getting your sweat on.

Below, we discuss the unspoken gym etiquette do’s and don’t’s.

Remember, asking people if they can wipe machines down after use or to work in with you between sets should be enough for them to modify their behavior. If it isn’t, feel free to print this article out and leave it with them next time you happen to be working out next to them. Some people may literally need it spelled out...

The Gym Etiquette Do List

Do Wipe Your Equipment Down After Use

Whether you leave an obvious sweat stain or not, this is just a common courtesy when moseying your way across the gym floor or making your transition to different equipment between sets. Despite if you will be returning to the machine or not, a courteous thing to always do is wipe your equipment down every time you walk away from it.

Do Allow Other People to “Work In” with You

If someone asks to work in with you between sets, it’s common courtesy to say yes. It’s not polite to sit at any machine and monopolize it for five minutes while you sit there checking Instagram. Allowing people to work in with you is a common practice of having good gym etiquette. You’ll usually find that people will reciprocate the kind gesture next time you ask to work in with them on a specific machine or cable. Remember, kindness is contagious.

Do Practice Good Hygiene

People have the freedom to wear (or not wear) deodorant and whatever your choice is simply that: your choice.

However, there is a certain level of respect you should be mindful of when working out next to others. There’s body odor, which is usually manageable, and then there’s other odor that can have the effect, if too intense, of making others want to faint or vomit. Consider showering before and after your workout if deodorant doesn’t happen to be in your hygienic repertoire to keep things under control.

Save the selfies for the actual gym floor- not the locker room.

Do Keep Your Phone Calls to a Minimum and Keep Your Voice Down

The gym is not social hour. People go to the gym to work hard, focus and many times, that hour or so they have in the gym is the only time they have alone throughout the entire day. Everyone has their own personal drama and stuff going on in their life. Be respectful of not taking yours to the gym.

Do Re-Rack Your Weights

It’s not polite to leave your weights out in the middle of the gym floor or stacked on a machine. It’s simple: put your weights back where you originally found them. It’s also not considerate to put heavy weight plates on a machine to just to leave them there for someone else to clean up. Someone eventually does have to put the heavy weight plates back or even worse, some older woman will want to use that machine after you and she can easily hurt herself trying to pick up those heavy weights you used. Simply put, don’t be that inconsiderate and lazy person. Re-rack your weights!

Do Stay Mindful of the Space You Are Taking Up

Prime time hours are usually early in the morning before people head to work and evening hours when people get out of work. Any given gym will get extremely busy during these hours and there is absolutely no reason why a person needs to be using a squat rack to do lunges while holding DB’s or to do bicep curls with the barbell. Be mindful of the fact that there is usually a limited amount of specific equipment so being conscientious of this is important.

The Gym Etiquette Don't List

Don’t Go to the Gym Sick

We often hear people say they want to go to the gym when sick to “sweat it out” and that’s great if you have your own private gym. But if you’re sick and sneezing, have a runny nose or are coughing up a lung, going to your public gym and spreading your germs everywhere is selfish. People have to touch those weights after you or use the equipment you just sneezed on. If you are showing obvious symptoms of being sick, do yourself and everyone else a favor and stay home. The gym will still be there in a couple of days. We promise.

Don’t Slam Your Weights and Be Extra Loud with Your Moans and Grunts

Some people don’t have headphones loud enough to completely dull out the noises coming from the olympic powerlifting rack. We’ve all heard these guys- they grunt and moan with each rep and then predictably slam their weights down while walking away from the rack like they just scored a winning shot in an NBA finals game.

To those guys: We are thrilled to see you lifting heavy and working hard- really. But we don’t want to be startled every time you do one rep of your clean to snatch.

There's a certain level of noise and a certain grunt or moan that just becomes a bit too much. For example, if I’m able to close my eyes and feel like I’m listening to a live porno, well then Houston, we have a problem.

Don’t Use the Locker Room as If It Was Your Own Private Bathroom

There are some behaviors and, well, habits that you should leave to the privacy of your own bathroom. Staying mindful of your space while in the locker room, cleaning up after yourself and keeping your belongings to a one locker max is not only courteous but appreciated by your fellow gym go-ers as well as the staff who is obligated to clean up after you.

Also, keeping your grooming habits such as shaving to the shower only and disposing of products such as lotions and razors is not only a courteous gesture but a sanitary one your fellow gym go-ers will most definitely appreciate.

Don’t Take Selfies in the Locker Room

It’s one thing to snap gym selfies when on the gym floor but it’s not OK in the locker room while other people are not fully clothed. Some people don’t feel all that confident naked and you shouldn’t be that person taking out your phone to snap selfies while people around you aren’t fully clothed.

We know you’re biceps look fantastic after your arm day pump, we know. But save the selfies for the actual gym floor- not the locker room.

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