My husband and I both worked at a gym for years and have been frequenting them for far longer, so when we say we’ve seen everything, we mean it. As obvious as some gym etiquette reminders may seem, you’d be surprised (or maybe not) to see how often they are ignored. Don’t be that guy.
Clean your equipment when you’re done.
It should go without saying, but leaving your sweat and grime behind on a bench or machine is unsanitary and just plain rude to others. Don’t be the person who’s too lazy to wipe down your equipment after you use it.
Be smart and safe.
If you don’t properly eat, hydrate and warm up before jumping into a workout, or if you don’t pay close attention to your exercise form and exertion, you’re not only putting yourself at risk for injuries, you’re endangering others, too. You could vomit, faint, get hurt or much worse, and you could easily affect others in the process. Trust us: treadmill fall chain reactions are a thing.
Watch your aromasphere.
Whether you like to spray with cologne or perfume before your workout or go the opposite direction and skip the deodorant, going too far either way can put off those around you. To smell sweaty is one thing and is generally acceptable in a gym, but we routinely come across those who have marinated themselves in cologne and send us home with a headache. Don’t be that person. We’ve also known plenty of people who opt for natural or no deodorants at all and smell so terrible that others around them are forced to go elsewhere. Ask a kind but honest friend if you match either description. If you have a strong natural odor, don’t let it stop you from going to the gym! Check in with your doctor to see how they can help with safe, natural and effective deodorants.
Work in with others.
If you find yourself using a piece of equipment for more than a few minutes while others may want to use it too, be flexible and “work in” with them—take turns and alternate your sets. While it’s the other person’s turn, use that time for a super set with another exercise or a mini cardio burst.
Put equipment away.
Along the same lines, when you’re done with something, put. it. away. The only acceptable excuse for not putting away your plates, dumbbells, mats or anything else is that you’re dead or seriously injured. When you leave your equipment out for someone else to deal with, not only are you being a lazy, disrespectful ding-dong, you’re putting others at risk and interfering with their workouts.
Use equipment the way it’s meant to be used.
If I had a dollar for every time I saw a guy doing curls on the squat rack, I wouldn’t be writing this article. I’d be hiking the Cinque Terre or eating at The Yacht in Dublin with my buckets of money. Squat racks are for squats. Benches are for bench exercises, not a personal coffee table to hold your journal and protein shake. If a gym doesn’t have a rubberized floor that allows for weight dropping, don’t drop your loaded Olympic bar from a clean and press. By using equipment for its true purpose, you’ll minimize injury risk for yourself and others, you’ll keep the equipment from breaking or wearing out faster, and you’ll make sure the equipment is available for those who need it.
Don’t get creative unless you know what you’re doing.
Along the same lines as #6, it’s true you can modify some equipment uses for more creative and challenging exercises. However, you shouldn’t do this unless you’re with a certified and experienced personal trainer.
Be respectful of others’ reasons for being there.
“In addition to practical etiquette reminders, it’s also important to remember that everyone comes to the gym for different reasons,” says Angela Yarber, fitness and yoga instructor. “Some people are interested in weight loss or strength training and that’s fine and good. But many people have no interest in changing their body, but instead exercise to reduce stress or have fun. In order to maintain a body-positive and inclusive attitude at the gym, avoid giving unsolicited weight-loss advice or making negative comments about anyone’s body. Remember that many different types of bodies can be healthy and fit.”
Don’t bring the whole gang.
If you like to work out in a group, that’s cool and we fully support the combined effort. Just don’t do it during prime time and bogart half the equipment. Instead, consider coming in during slower times and/or in smaller groups, incorporating mostly body weight exercises into your routine, and/or working in a circuit style so not everyone has to be using equipment at the same time. Or try group exercise classes which are designed for several people at once.
Respect people’s space and privacy.
We get it: some exercises look funny, and some gym-goers have unique personal styles of working out. Don’t stare, snicker or lurk (I’m looking at you, creeps by the adductor/abductor machine), and if you catch someone else doing this, intervene. The only time it’s acceptable to comment on someone’s exercise is if they’re using poor form or otherwise doing something that could get themselves or others around them seriously hurt, and if you don’t feel comfortable stepping in, let gym staff know right away.
In short, it all comes down to being safe and showing respect for your fellow gym-goers. What would you add to this list?