Gym Etiquette: Dos and Don’ts of Working Out at the Gym

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If you want to bulk up, you have to make sure you get the right exercise to supplement your diet. But going to the gym is like going to the Friday dance of the exercising world, and there are a lot of unspoken rules about how you should and shouldn’t act while working out. Here are some dos and don’ts of working out at the gym.

Gym Etiquette

Don’t hog the machines:

After working on a machine you might suddenly realize that you haven’t replied to your significant other because you were exercising. You then start to reply to them while you’re still seated at the machine. You may not realize it, but other people might be waiting for you to finish doing your set so that they can use the machine next. And by sitting there, you’re hogging the machine. Not only is this very inconsiderate (especially in a busy and packed gym), but it also wastes other people’s time.

Do help the new people:

When you first started going to the gym, you probably didn’t know which machine to use first, or how to use even half of them. You might have milled around, watching everyone else to see how things worked out. Everyone is new at one point or another. If you see someone struggling, they might appreciate it if you offer help on how to set up a machine or how to use certain equipment. Just make sure to ask first. Or, if they ask you for help, be nice.

Don’t give unsolicited advice:

Not everyone is new, so don’t give out advice like free candy. Not a lot of people want your advice anyway, and if they did, they’d ask for it. It’s important that you respect how other people at the gym want to go about their workout, but if you see someone putting themselves at risk by lifting too much or by being careless with the equipment, step in or call a fitness adviser to do so for you.

Do bring earphones for your music:

Music is great for getting into the mood to exercise. It can set the pace for whatever you plan on doing at the gym, especially if you aren’t a fan of what the gym is playing on the overhead speakers. Just make sure to bring your own earphones for your music. Not everyone is going to appreciate your love for electronic dance music while you do your squats, similar to how you might not want to hear country music while you’re running laps on the treadmill.

Don’t strut your stuff naked:

It’s natural that while at the gym, people have a tendency to check each other out. They see everyone’s progress, and sometimes use it as a form of inspiration to keep working out. However, whether you’re fit or not, it doesn’t mean that you can walk around naked while changing or heading to the showers. The people at the gym pay to work out, not to see your goods, so keep your worldly gifts under wraps.

Do respect personal space:

If you end up going to a fairly busy gym, you might end up having to wait a bit for machines to free up. While waiting, it’s important to respect the other person’s space. Don’t stand right next to them and breathe down their neck while they finish their set. Instead, wait a bit to the side, or ask how many sets they have left while they’re taking a break. Respecting personal space isn’t just limited to waiting for machines, but all over the gym–from the open floor to equipment, all the way to the showers.

Don’t cut in line for water:

One of the first rules of exercising is that you should keep yourself hydrated as much as possible. While working out, you lose a lot of water through heavy breathing and sweat. So when it’s time to get yourself a drink, make sure you don’t cut in line. Remember, you’re not the only one who’s thirsty here. Wait your turn. Or, if you hate waiting, bring your own bottled water or sports drink that you can carry around at all times.

Do clean up after yourself:

Gyms can get pretty messy, especially since everyone is breaking a sweat. It’s important that after working out, you clean up your area. This means that if you’ve been using a machine, that you wipe it down when you’re done. Or if you’re using mats, you should make sure to move it to its used pile afterwards. Not cleaning up after yourself will easily earn you the reputation of being pretty gross, so don’t be that person.

Don’t destroy the machines/equipment:

Sometimes when you walk into a gym, you can hear the sound of weights smashing against other weights and machines being dropped. Everyone pays to be able to use the same machines and equipment, so don’t treat them like they’re yours to throw around or drop. Not only is it inconsiderate to everyone else, but it can also be very dangerous. Dropped weights can easily destroy a floor or someone’s foot.

In general, you have to remember that the gym is a public space that you’re all sharing; it isn’t your garage or your house where you can do whatever you want. Be considerate and respectful and you should be able to navigate your way through working out in public.


Tiffanny is a qualified Fitness Instructor with a BSc (Hons) in Health, Fitness and Leisure Studies from the Institute of Technology Tralee. She also has a background in entrepreneurship.

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