Gym Etiquette 101: What You Should Know

Gym Etiquette 101Be A Good Gym Citizen by Following These 5 Simple Rules of Etiquette

The last thing you want when you’re at the gym is a sweaty jacked dude all up in your face, upset that you didn’t re-rack your weights. Just kidding, it’s very rare something like that would happen, but to create the best gym experience for yourself and for other exercisers you are sharing the space with, there are certain rules which you should follow during your fitness routine. None of them are complex; most are very common-sense. While some of these rules are probably listed under the gym’s ‘official’ set of rules, others may not be. In any case, these rules of etiquette are designed to create a safer, cleaner, and more workout-friendly environment for people to enjoy.

First and foremost, check your gym’s official rules to determine what’s allowed and what’s not. Most gyms have sheets plastered on multiple walls to reinforce their rules. If you can’t find them, ask a trainer or employee for a copy. Chances are, they’ll be more than happy to provide you with a copy of their rules. When you follow the rules, it’s more likely that others will see you doing so and they will follow your lead. That way, you get to have a better gym experience for yourself as well. Easy!

Read on to find out about several rules of gym etiquette you may or may not see posted, but that you must follow anyway…

1. Put The Weights Back Where They Belong

weights left on rackOne of my pet peeves is finding weights scattered throughout the gym. Some people grab a set of dumbbells or cap weights for the barbell and are too lazy to put them back once they are finished with them. It’s super frustrating when you find every weight on the rack with the exception of the one that you’re looking for. When you are finished using a set of weights, put it back in its original position so others can easily find it.

If you find a weight out of place, after making sure someone isn’t still using it, you can earn some good karma by putting it back in its home. It’s always a good idea to leave things better than you found them. And itt probably won’t kill you to burn a couple extra calories carrying the weight back to its proper place.

2. Clean Up Your Sweat

cleaning suppliesDuring a good workout, you should definitely break a sweat. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with sweating at the gym, you should keep it off the equipment. After all, no one wants to pick up a sweat-covered barbell, and wet machine seats are no fun. If you find yourself sweating and forgot to grab a towel on the way in, walk away from the equipment and find a towel. Most gyms have free towels available for their members. Grab ONE towel to carry around and dry yourself off. When you’re done with the towel, place it in its proper receptacle. You may need to bring a towel from home.

Sweat will inevitably drip on some of the weights and equipment while you are working out. If this happens, simply wipe it up with your towel. Depending on your gym’s management, they may also have disinfectant wipes or spray bottles for members to use as well. If these are provided, be sure to use them. Some gyms ask that you wipe down the equipment after each use, so make sure you do so if that’s a posted rule.

3. Be Mindful About Eating Food

food scrapsYou’re bound to develop some hunger cravings after spending half an hour or so pumping weights in the gym. Eating food is typically allowed, but you should follow some etiquette rules during your snack sessions. For starters, don’t eat food directly on or over the equipment, as this could result in crumbs and debris falling down on it. You’re also tying up equipment that others may want to use. Walk away from the equipment to find an unoccupied corner or the room to eat your snack.

When you are finished snacking, take a minute to throw your trash away before hitting the weights again. Some people leave their food scraps and trash scattered around the gym, which is both unsanitary and disrespectful to other gym-goers.

Make sure your gym does allow food before indulging. Some gyms don’t allow food out on the floor, so you might need to step into the lobby or go outside for a minute.

4. Be Courteous When Asking For a Spotter

spotterNeed someone to watch over you while you attempt to lift a heavy set of weights? If so, look around the gym for a person who appears physically fit and capable of handling the weights.

Ask them in a friendly and polite tone if they mind spotting you for a minute. In the rare event that they say no, tell them thanks anyways and keep looking. Don’t worry, most gym-goers will gladly spot you for a few minutes. Just don’t ask someone when they in the middle of a set, or clearly busy with something else!

5. Don’t Hog Equipment

pigBe aware of those around you. If your gym is empty, of course it’s OK to do squats in the squat rack to your heart’s content. However, as is more often the case, if you’re doing multiple sets on the same piece of equipment and there are others present, just pay attention to the people around you. Is someone repeatedly glancing your way? Maybe they’re just checking you out, but in all likelihood, they are wondering when in the world you will be done so they can do their thing too. When in doubt, just ask. And don’t be miffed if someone asks to work in with you between your sets. Nobody wants to stand around the gym all day waiting for equipment to clear up, and timing of sets is often important. So share with others and play nice!

The Bottom Line

Don’t make “gym-nemies”: follow the simple rules of gym etiquette and you’ll make gym friends instead!Remember that this list is not exhaustive, but it’s a good starting point. Make sure to read and follow any rules specific to your gym.

Other people may not always follow the rules of gym etiquette, but you can help set the tone by following them yourself. After practicing for a while, they will feel very natural and you won’t even need to think about them anymore.

Do you have any pet peeves when you’re at the gym? Let us know in the comments below!

Author Profile: Mae Barraclough

Mae Barraclough, B.S., NASM-CPT, NASM-CES is a certified personal trainer, corrective exercise specialist, and licensed Zumba Instructor. With her passion for health, fitness, and dance, Mae loves learning all she can and sharing her knowledge with others.Join Mae online: Follow Mae on Instagram: Like Train With Mae on Facebook: Follow Mae on Pinterest: she's not training, Mae can be found making imaginative art jewelry at

Disclaimer: The views of the author are his or her own, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Ask The Trainer.
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