The Ten Rules of Gym Etiquette

Going to a gym for the first time can be daunting. Each gym has its own quirks and idiosyncrasies, and does anyone really know how to use that one machine in the back corner?!

Whether you’re new to working out, joining a new gym, or a seasoned workout pro, every fitness enthusiast could stand to remember some basic rules for gym etiquette. Getting the most out of your workout goes hand-in-hand with being conscious and respectful of your environment and the people around you. Keep these rules in mind for your next workout.

1.       Dress appropriately. If you were invited to a black-tie gala, you wouldn’t go in your gym clothes. If you’re going to the gym, don’t dress like you’re going to work, the skate park, or the Miss America finals. Dress appropriately for the safety and sanitation of everyone. Underdressing or overdressing can result in the spreading of germs or in your getting caught in the machines. Wear clothing that fits and that is tasteful and modest—for your sake and for the sake of others.

2.       Clean up after yourself. Have you ever gone to use a machine and noticed it was covered in sweat? Gross! Respect your gym mates and the valuable equipment by wiping down your equipment when you’re done. Even if there’s no visible sweat, remember that germs are invisible. Most gyms provide disinfecting wipes or sprays. If yours doesn’t, talk to the management about providing them.

3.       Give everyone a turn. Some days at the gym are busier than others. Everyone understands that you’ve waited your turn to get to your favorite machine, but especially on busy days when there’s a line, limit your reps to give everyone else a turn, too. You can always use another machine and then come back to ensure everyone gets a chance to use the equipment. (This rule also goes for the water fountains! If you’re filling up your 2-liter water bottle and a line has formed behind you, allow others to take their quick sips and then continue refilling your bottle when the line has dwindled.)

4.       Limit technology usage. Few people would fault you for listening to music through earphones while you run or for streaming your favorite shows (with headphones) while you bike, but while you’re moving around the gym, leave at least one ear free for your safety and to not miss out on important announcements or questions. If you must take a phone call, step away from other gym goers or go outside. Ringtones, unwanted music, and loud conversations can be distracting to your colleagues and potentially cause a safety issue.  Also, don’t use your phone in the locker room. All phones come equipped with cameras, and it is highly illegal to snap pictures or videos of others changing clothes or using the facilities. Even if you’re not taking a photo/video, it’s better to avoid the appearance of evil. The best thing is to just leave your phone in your bag or in the car.

5.       Offer a spot. If you see someone struggling with a weight, politely offer to help. If the person doesn’t need assistance, they’ll tell you; however, sometimes, everyone needs a hand. Help your fellow gym goers as you can, and they’ll be more likely to help you out when you need it!

6.       Wear deodorant, not perfume/cologne. Everyone sweats at the gym. It’s no secret that sweating can result in unpleasant body odors. Block odors by bathing regularly and wearing deodorant—not by going overboard with perfumes/colognes/body sprays/etc. Strong scents are at the least distracting and at the most can incite allergic reactions in those around you. Understand that even though you love your perfume/cologne, others may not. Leave the smelly stuff at home.

7.       Respect gym employees and regulations. Gym employees are there to make sure you’re getting the most out of your workout, and gym rules exist for everyone’s safety and well-being. If your gym’s staff makes a request, do your best to honor it. If they call you out on breaking a rule, it’s not a big deal so don’t take it personally! Just go along with the program—or find a different gym.

8.       Report broken equipment. Broken equipment can be a huge safety hazard. If you notice a machine is out of whack, make sure you report it immediately so the gym staff can remove it or label it “out of order.” Someone else may not be as observant as you and might attempt to use faulty equipment, which could result in injury. Play it safe—report broken equipment!

9.       Stay home when you’re sick. Just like school or work, if you’re contagious, snotty, sneezy, etc.—JUST STAY HOME! Don’t take a chance on infecting your fellow gym mates. If you have to get your workout on when you’re sick, do a fitness video at home or go for a run outside in your neighborhood—don’t enclose yourself into a small space with lots of other people.

10.   Help out the newbies. Once you get the hang of your gym’s culture and environment, help out the new people. Locker rooms, equipment, and
classes can all be very confusing for those who have never been there before. Set the tone for a positive, friendly gym, and others will follow suit!