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Gym Etiquette - Top 20 things you should know

Updated on November 7, 2012

Going to the gym can be exciting, fun, a way to meet new people, full-filling, and a venue to keep our bodies healthy. Gyms, health spas, fitness studios, and aerobic studios are as unique as the people training in them. As people age and technology improves, community fitness areas are springing up all over the world. Better education, supplements, and machines are being created daily to bust our butts into shape and improve the quality of life. Although there are a plethora of options when it comes to places to work out, one thing stays consistent wherever you decide to get your daily dose of fitness. There is a code of underwritten rules that all members should know about. This is known as gym etiquette.

Most modern day gyms do not post a written code of conduct on the walls for all their members to see. Although a thing of gyms past, modern gyms might include expected gym etiquette in your contract agreement or in the handful of brochures and literature that you are given when you sign up. Even so, the rules that gym management requires does not go into as much detail as what your fellow gym rats might expect from you. More often than not, gym etiquette is simply expected. Subsequently, you don't go into a fancy restaurant and expect to get a list of do's and don't at the hostess station when you check in for a table.

Is the person across the gym starring at you because they are jealous on how much weight you may be lifting or are they simply appalled by your conduct? Look at the above picture. What do you see wrong that might be going on? The following is the top 20 things, in keeping proper gym etiquette, that you should know before working out at any fitness venue.

Water Bottle Shower
Water Bottle Shower | Source

20) If you use it, put it back. You mom doesn't work there, so if you load the bench press with weight plates, make sure you strip down the weights and put them back when you are finished.

19) Do not use the cardio equipment with sneakers that have mud, grass, leaves or dirt caked to the bottoms. Shake them off or spay them with a hose before coming to the gym.

18) Don't leave your belongings on equipment to save it while you are getting a drink or talking to other members. If someone jumps in while you are gone, politely ask if you can "work in" with them between sets.

17) Don't cart your baggage around the gym. This takes up too much space and is rude. If the club offers lockers, use them. If not, find a place that you can leave your belongings while you workout. Ask the front desk for suggestions. Also, you might want to invest in a gym bag that has a lock so people are not tempted to steal your stuff.

16) When using machines, do not clang the weights at the bottom of your reps. This is extremely obnoxious and not necessary! Position and adjust yourself in the machine so that, at full extension, the weights are approximately one inch from touching the remaining weight plates.

15) Don't spit loogies in the drinking fountain. This is flat out gross and unsanitary! Instead, excuse yourself to the bathroom and spit it in the toilet.

14) Don't douse your head with water by either placing it in the drinking fountain or using a squirt bottle. This leaves water trails and makes a slippery workout area for other members.

13) Be contentious of the space you are using. Do not overtake an entire area and expect others to work around you. Keep an eye out for people wanting to enter or pass-by while you are working.

12) Do not leave your magazines and newspapers on the cardio equipment. If you brought it in, take it with you. If you borrowed it, put it back.

11) Don't sit on the equipment and socialize. People might want to use it. If you are into a heavy conversation with someone take it to the lobby or an area where you are not monopolizing the equipment. Although people might not look interested, they may be too intimidated or shy to ask.

10) Do not eat while working out. This leaves crumbs and is unsanitary. Instead, grab something small before the gym (like a banana) or eat after your workout. If you must, excuse yourself and eat at the juice bar (if your gym has one) or in another designated area.

9) Utilize workout spots when you are challenging heavy weight. Do not try to manhandle weight that you are not use to lifting without having support from a friend. Not only is this practice embarrassing and unsafe for you, it is also unsafe for the people exercising around you.

8) Do not use chalk for machines. Chalk is used for barbells and dumbbells period. Using it on machines leaves a white residue that gets transferred to unsuspecting members. It is not the management's job to clean up after you.

7) Do not bath in cologne or perfume before working out. Some people have a sensitive nose and the overpowering aroma you think is "lovely" might be gagging members in your wake. Overuse of perfumes leaves your scent on equipment/weights you use throughout the course of your workout. In a place where heavy breathing is the norm, leave your smells at home.

6) If utilizing the showers and locker room, do not shave and walk around in the nude. Regardless of how good you look, no one wants to see your junk. Cover yourself with a towel or at least keep your underwear on until you get to the shower.

Yelling while lifting
Yelling while lifting | Source


5) Unless you are a highly certified trainer or witness something unsafe, do not tell people how to lift. What gives you the right to tell others that what they are doing is right or wrong? Regardless of how long you have been lifting or what your experiences are, this is not a great way to meet and make friends at any gym venue. Keep your comments to yourself and let numb nuts do his thing.

4) Don't grunt, scream, or yell while lifting. Learn to control your breathing in silence. It is not necessary to sound like you are giving birth to a baby elephant while lifting. If the best power lifters do it while lifting as much weight as a car, you can too ;-)

3) Wipe down the benches and equipment when you are finished using it. Just like you don't want to sit in someone else's sweat, neither do others want to sit in yours.

2) Don't slam weights on the floor after a set. Unless you are at a true meat-head gym where this is the norm, this scares members, is unsafe, loosens dumbbells, and ruins the equipment. Furthermore, it is not necessary. There are plenty of ways to set down the weight without throwing them. Learn them!

1) Don't talk or text on your cell phone while working out or utilizing the cardio equipment. This is highly annoying and nobody cares about what your weekend plans are. If the call is an emergency, excuse yourself off the equipment you are using (so someone else can use it) and talk. If it can wait, let them leave a message and call them when you are done working out.


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    • jaybird22 profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from New York

      Thanks Leslie! And I know a lot of it seems like common sense but no matter where I roam, these are surprisingly things I see at gyms across the country.

      And no , not just geared to the boys ;-) Personally, I like to think of us as men instead of boys lol. And have you ever seen a petite, blonde, diva hack a loogie in the community drinking fountain? Yep, this guy has at a gym in Oklahoma! Nasty!!

    • Born2care2001 profile image

      Rev Bruce S Noll HMN 

      5 years ago from Asheville NC

      Great Information jaybird22,

      Can't say I'm perfect in using all of the proper gym etiquette, but I have made it a habit to be conscious of others during my workouts. This hub confirms many of my suspicions about how others see the above behaviors.

      I know they're not all the same, but I have been an instructor and have worked out at the YMCA for years and I have found that many of them do post rules and regs for conduct and behavior. (Though many still ignore them)

      Thanks for this well put together hub. Safety is always better for everyone! (and a little humility never hurt anyone either!)

      Voted Up!

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 

      5 years ago from Oakley, CA

      Great advice. I've had to give up having a gym membership for financial reasons, but I've seen plenty of these obnoxious behaviors in the past.

      I think number one should be wiping your sweat off the benches, or better yet, putting a towel under you, so your sweat does not go on the bench in the first place! That is just gross.

      Nudity in the locker room? Eh...they are gender-separated anyway, so if I see something I've never seen before, I'll just shoot it. LOL! It's not for me, but if others have been raised to be comfortable in their own skin, so be it. If I don't like it, I don't have to look.

      As for the cell phone issue--I get SO annoyed with all these people who, it seems, would be happiest if they could have their phones surgically implanted! WHAT is so doggoned important that you need to be on the phone the whole time you're exercising, or grocery shopping??? Nothing, that's what! If you're going to work out...leave the damned phone locked up out of sight in your car!

      Voted up, interesting, useful and shared.

    • ImKarn23 profile image

      Karen Silverman 

      5 years ago

      Lol..having spent the majority of my life in a gym- left home at 14 t o train in eugene oregon - i found these both hilarious - and common sense!

      The pic is hilarious - and clearly - since this is geared to the boys - i'm just going to assume that us female creatures exhibit perfect etiquette in a gym..

      of course!

      Great advice - but - if ya need this kind of advice - omfg!

      voting up and sharing with the hub-munity, my new friend!

    • jaybird22 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from New York

      FitnessProDee: Thanks for the read and the feedback. I totally agree about the deceleration, thanks for your comment on that ;-)

    • FitnessProDee profile image

      Dana Gore 

      6 years ago

      Great advice and an easy read. Clanging the weights on the machines is not only loud and disturbing...but it can be harmful to the joints and equipment as well. Controlling the deceleration of returning the weights back to starting position also allows for better muscular activity from eccentric either way it's a good idea to refrain from this behavior.


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