If you’re new to working out at the gym, you might not pick up on the unspoken rules right away. The gym has a set of manners that aren’t posted on the gym’s “Rules” sign. Without knowing gym etiquette, you may unintentionally offend others.
Gym etiquette isn’t meant to scare you away from the gym – it helps you become a more respectful gym-goer. Make sure to keep these essential gym manners in mind before your next workout.
1. Wipe Down Equipment After Every Use
Hundreds of people can visit a single gym each day, which means that each piece of equipment can have dozens of users. That also means multiple people have touched that same equipment with sweaty (and possibly dirty) hands. Wouldn’t you feel more comfortable knowing that the people before you wiped it down?
Any time you use the treadmill, elliptical, stairclimber, weights, or any other type of equipment, always wipe it down. Gyms usually have sanitizing wipes or paper towels stationed around the gym. Grab a wipe, and clean the machine’s handles, bars, screen, and basically any part you touched.
2. Give Others Their Space
Picture this: you’re at the gym when hardly anyone else is there. You’re using the elliptical, and have several open machines beside you. A few minutes into your workout, another person decides to start working out at the elliptical right next to you – when there are several others available.
This may seem petty, but having someone directly next to you during your workout is distracting and a bit uncomfortable. People need their space, especially at the gym. However, it’s totally acceptable to get on any open machine when the gym is crowded.
3. Practice Proper Hygiene
No one wants to smell you from across the gym. That said, please make sure to wear deodorant, wash your exercise clothes, and take showers after your workouts.
4. Put Away Equipment
Want to start weightlifting at the gym? Don’t leave the weights on the bar or on the floor when you’re finished. This makes it a hassle for the next user, who then has to put away your weights and get their own. You should also remember to put the weights back in the same order that you found them.
5. Don’t Ogle Fellow Gym-Goers
It’s not socially acceptable to stare at anyone in public, and the same goes for the gym. If you’re amazed at someone’s weightlifting skills (or see someone attractive) avert your eyes and pay attention to your own workout. Otherwise, you’ll end up making someone feel very uncomfortable and creeped out.
6. Take Turns Using Equipment
Some gyms have time limits on machines during busy hours. Even if your gym doesn’t have time limits, you should spend less time on a popular machine when the gym is crowded.
It’s also frowned upon to hog weights. Opt to “work in” with someone instead – this allows you to use someone else’s weights when they’re resting in between sets.
7. Don’t Poke Fun at Anyone
You shouldn’t make fun of anyone, period, and the gym is no exception. People go to the gym to improve their body image and become fit. Poking fun at someone just creates a toxic environment, and discourages people from exercising.
Unwelcome criticism should also stay out of the gym. You just might want to help, but giving unwanted advice can make someone feel out of place. On the other hand, feel free to give suggestions if someone asks you for it.
8. Avoid Long Phone Conversations
Don’t engage in a long phone conversation when you’re working out around others. It’s frustrating for anyone who just wants peace and quiet, or if they’re trying to listen to music or watch TV. Keep your phone calls short, or take it outside.
9. Look Around Before Snapping a Selfie
You’re making progress at the gym, and you want to take a selfie to show off your newly toned body. Before you do that, make sure you don’t catch any unsuspecting gym-goers in the background – not everyone wants to become an Instagram model!
Be mindful of your selfie location as well. Don’t take selfies in the locker room, and avoid hogging equipment for the perfect photo.
10. Tone Down the Chitchat
Most people go to the gym to workout, not to talk. While small talk is okay in certain situations, don’t start a long-winded conversation with someone who’s sprinting on a treadmill or wearing headphones. It’s hard to talk when you’re already breathless, and it’s also very distracting.
11. Avoid Acting Like a Fitness Coach
Unless you see someone doing something dangerous, avoid giving out unsolicited advice. Critiquing someone’s form, which machines they choose to use, or how intense their workout is isn’t nice. For instance, maybe someone comes in and walks slowly on a treadmill for 15 minutes and leaves. Instead of hurrying over to tell them they need to go longer or do intervals of faster and slower, just let them do the workout their own way.
12. Skip the Fragrance
While you might not want to stink, the gym isn’t the place to debut your newest perfume or cologne. In an enclosed space where everyone’s sweating, the combination of scents quickly becomes overwhelming.
Of course, you’re free to bring along a bottle to spray on after your workout. Just make sure no one else is around you when you spray it. Learn more about choosing fragrances with our fragrance glossary and how to pick the right scent family.
13. Dress to Workout
We’ve all seen people at the gym who are dressed inappropriately for the gym. This ranges from extremely tight and barely there clothing to incredibly bagging and tattered. Neither helps with your workout. If your clothes are too tight, you might not be able to use machines and equipment correctly, leading to injuries. If your clothes are too baggy or your shoes too slick, you can slip or get caught on equipment. Most gyms have a dress code, so follow it to make your workouts better.
Don’t Sabotage Someone Else’s Workout
Gym etiquette all comes down to empathizing with others. It doesn’t take much to fit in at the gym—you just have to keep yourself in check and avoid disturbing others.
If you do happen to make a social faux pas at the gym, you should have an apology on hand. Check out this article to learn how to express regret like an adult.
Frequently Asked Questions
When's the least crowded time to hit the gym?
If you don’t want to stand around waiting to use equipment, gyms are usually less crowded early in the morning and around mid-day. You’ll also see less socializing going on and more working out.
What should I do if someone's breaking gym etiquette?
If someone is bothering you, hogging the machines, or making it difficult for others to use the gym, report them immediately. Gym owners want you to feel comfortable and safe. Anonymously report the offender to an employee and let them deal with it.
Image credit: Craig Lovelidge via Unsplash
Get the best of ModernRatio delivered right to your inbox!