The gym can be an intimidating place for a beginner. There are so many people working out, and everyone seems to have their own routine. It can be hard to know where to start, or even what to do. What’s worse, you may worry about making a mistake and looking foolish. Fortunately, there are some basic dos and don’ts of gym etiquette that everyone should know. By following these simple rules, you can make your gym experience more enjoyable for yourself and those around you.
What Is Considered Proper Gym Etiquette?
Proper gym etiquette has a lot to do with how you treat others around you. It also includes being aware of your own hygiene and respecting the equipment.
In general, following these basic principles will help you to be a good gym citizen:
Do: Put Everything Back Where It Belongs
When you first walk into the gym, you’ll notice all sorts of equipment. Treadmills, weights, yoga mats, and more.
While you work out, you’ll need to use some of this equipment. But when you’re finished, it’s important to put everything back where it belongs.
This rule applies to both the small things (like weights and yoga mats) and the big things (like treadmills). Leaving your stuff lying around makes the gym look messy and can be dangerous for other people.
When you’re done with the treadmill, reset it to 0.0 mph and 0.0% incline. Wipe down any equipment you used with a disinfectant wipe (most gyms will have these available). And put away all the weights you used.
Don’t: Hog The Equipment
The gym is meant to be a shared space. That means you shouldn’t spend the whole time on one piece of equipment. If you see someone waiting to use the treadmill, give them a chance.
Most people are happy to wait a few minutes, but if you’re hogging the equipment, they may not get a chance.
Don’t be that person! Be aware of others around you and try to share the space.
Do: Wipe Down The Equipment After You Use It
Nobody wants to use a piece of equipment that’s covered in sweat. Not only is it gross, but it can also be dangerous (if someone slips, they could get injured).
Fortunately, there’s an easy solution to this problem: wipes! Most gyms will have disinfectant wipes available, and you can use these to wipe down the equipment after you use it.
Don’t: Leave Your Towel On The Equipment
Leaving your towel on the equipment is just as bad as not wiping it down in the first place. It’s gross and it’s a surefire way to make someone else not want to use the machine after you.
If you need to take a break, that’s fine. But be sure to remove your towel and any other belongings before you do.
Do: Dress Appropriately
You don’t need to wear the latest fashion trends to the gym, but it is important to dress appropriately. This means wearing clothing that’s comfortable and won’t get in the way of your workout.
Avoiding clothing that’s too loose or baggy is a good idea. Not only does it look unprofessional, but it can also be dangerous (if your clothes get caught on something, you could get hurt).
Women should also avoid wearing excessively revealing clothing. You’re there to work out, not to pick up a date.
Don’t: Wear Fragrances
Some people are sensitive to fragrances, and strong smells can be overwhelming in a small space like the gym. It’s best to avoid wearing any perfumes, colognes, or other strong fragrances.
If you must wear a fragrance, go for something light and subtle.
Do: Be Mindful Of The Noise You Make
Screaming, grunting, and cursing are all inappropriate in the gym. Not only is it rude, but it can also be off-putting for other people. If you need to make noise, try to keep it to a minimum.
This rule also applies to music. While headphones are a great way to stay motivated, it’s important to be mindful of the volume. Nobody wants to hear your music blaring through their own headphones.
If you’re not sure if your music is too loud, err on the side of caution and turn it down.
Don’t: Block The View Of The Mirror
Every gym has mirrors, and they’re there for a reason. People use them to check their form and make sure they’re doing exercises correctly.
If you’re standing in front of the mirror, be aware of other people who might want to use it. Try to move out of the way if someone else wants to get a better view.
Note that looking into the mirror during heavier lifts is generally discouraged. This can be distracting and it’s easy to get injured if you’re not paying attention to what you’re doing.
Do: Show Up Clean And Fresh
Sweating is unavoidable when you’re working out, but that doesn’t mean you should show up to the gym smelling like a wet dog. Make an effort to shower before you go (if possible) and use deodorant.
Wearing clean clothes is also important. Nobody wants to work out next to someone who’s wearing the same clothes they wore yesterday.
If you don’t have time to shower before the gym, try to at least wash your face and put on a clean shirt.
Don’t: Skip The Warm-Up
If you’re not sure how to warm up, talk to a trainer or do some research online. There are plenty of great warm-up exercises you can do, and it only takes a few minutes to get the benefits.
Don’t: Ignore The Rules
Most gyms will have a set of rules posted somewhere, and it’s important to follow them. Ignoring the rules can be dangerous, and it can also get you kicked out of the gym.
Some common gym rules include: no spitting, no running, no dropping weights, and no using profanity.
Of course, these are just a few examples. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the rules of your particular gym.
Do: Be Respectful Of Other People’s Space
The gym can be a crowded place, which is why it’s important to be respectful of other people’s space. This means not crowding their workout station, and giving them room to move around.
It also means not leaving your things lying around. If you’re not using something, put it back where it belongs.
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Don’t: Be A Distraction
Working out is hard enough without having to worry about other people. That’s why it’s important not to be a distraction when you’re at the gym.
This means being aware of your movements and not doing anything that will disturb others. It also means being quiet and not talking excessively.
If you need to take a phone call, step away from the gym area to do it.
Do: Be Friendly While Knowing Your Limits
The gym is a great place to make new friends, but it’s important to know your limits. Just because someone is being friendly doesn’t mean they want to be your best friend.
It’s perfectly fine to strike up a conversation with someone, but don’t take it too far. If they seem uninterested, respect their space and move on.
Don’t: Be A Know-It-All
Nobody likes a know-it-all, especially at the gym. We all have to start somewhere, and that includes learning about the types of exercises we should be doing.
Don’t intrude and volunteer advice unless someone asks for it. If they’re doing something wrong, let a trainer handle it.
Do: Ask For Help If You Need It
The opposite of a know-it-all is someone who’s too afraid to ask for help. If you’re new to the gym or you’re not sure how to use a certain machine, don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Most people are happy to offer advice, and it’s better to get help than to risk injury.
Don’t: Workout When You’re Sick
This should be common sense for everyone, but unfortunately, it’s not. If you’re sick, the gym is not the place for you.
You might infect other people and you’re not going to get the most out of your workout when you’re sick. It’s better to rest at home and wait until you’re feeling better.
Do: Use Common Sense
At the end of the day, using common sense is the best way to ensure good gym etiquette. If something doesn’t feel right, or if you’re not sure about something, don’t do it.
Respect the people around you, and be considerate of their space and belongings. And above all else, remember that we’re all there to improve our health and wellbeing.
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The Bottom Line
Gym etiquette is important to follow for the safety and enjoyment of everyone involved. By following the dos and don’ts above, you can make sure that you’re being respectful and considerate of those around you.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Effects of warming-up on physical performance: a systematic review with meta-analysis (2010, pubmed.gov)