8 Tips for Following Proper Gym Etiquette

The gym is a busy place, and no one expects it to be a quiet area where you can cozy up and read a book. With this in mind, however, we should still be cognizant of the people around us. Before signing up for that membership, read our guide on the proper gym etiquette. If you’re already signed up, it still might be a good time to review these tips.

1. Don’t Hog Equipment

We aren’t saying to cut your workout short, but you don’t want to guard one piece of equipment for too long—especially if the gym is busy and other people want a turn. You also want to be sure not to linger too long after you’ve finished, as someone else may be waiting to utilize the equipment. Be extra careful about checking your phone or checking a text message while resting between sets. This practice might be “OK” if you’re working out in the middle of the night at a 24-hour gym and there are only five people in the whole gym, but it’s not a good idea if you’re working out during rush hour at 5:00 p.m. and most machines are occupied. And FYI: Arnold Schwarzenegger says you shouldn’t be texting at all while in the gym (See video on his official Facebook page).

2. Clean off Equipment When Finished

No matter what the level of intensity your workout is, it’s proper etiquette to wipe down any equipment after you’ve used it. Even if you barely broke a sweat, germs and bacteria are still transferred to everything you come into the contact with. You also don’t want to leave any equipment a mess for the next person.

3. Proper Hygiene

No one is expected to smell like fresh linens at the gym, but you still want to be mindful of your hygiene. Make sure that you wear clean clothes before going to the gym, and don’t go several days without showering; you’ll just make yourself smell worse by pumping iron. The same rule applies to wearing an unnecessary amount of cologne or perfume.

4. Don’t Give Unsolicited Advice

If someone asks you for help or advice, that’s obviously an open door for you to help out. If someone doesn’t ask and don’t look receptive to help, they most likely don’t want your assistance. Going to the gym and putting yourself on display is already uncomfortable for some, and a stranger telling them something they didn’t ask for could discourage them from coming back. Besides some people probably don’t want advice from a complete stranger, especially if the “advisor’s” credentials or experience are unknown. There may be an exception to refraining from giving advice if you see something really unsafe happening; but unless it’s urgent, you might be better advised to let the fitness center floor staff know about the problem instead of taking care of it yourself.

5. Use Care with Communications

If you’re near someone engaged in activity while wearing headphones and they don’t make eye contact, that’s a fairly strong non-verbal communication that they’re not interested in an interruption of their workout. They might be concentrating on a serious workout with specific time-related goals. Most likely it’s not a good time to try to strike up a conversation.

6. Put Stuff Away

Don’t litter the floor with jump ropes and dumbbells. If you remove anything from its place, be sure to clean it and then put it back. Not only is it rude to leave something for someone else to take care of, but heavy items on the ground are a hazard.

7. Put Stuff Away Safely

Don’t throw equipment down on the floor in a crowd — even if it’s connected to a cable. You could hit someone’s foot; or if they’re on the floor stretching, you could cause a serious head injury or even death. Also, don’t stand flat barbells on end on the floor — even between sets. They could be accidentally knocked over and seriously injure or kill someone.

8. Don’t Make too Much Noise

There’s nothing wrong with friendly chatting, and sometimes you can’t help a bit of heavy breathing. Excessive grunting or loud music, however, can be distracting for fellow gym-goers. Bring a pair of headphones with you and try to keep the vocals to a minimum. Avoid loud cell phone conversations with your speakerphone on in a workout area. Take it outside or off to a more private area.