Fitness Articles

Proper Gym Etiquette

How to Play Well with Others While Working Out

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Personal Protocol
In addition to using equipment properly and respectfully, the way you carry yourself also affects those around you. If every gym member abided by these personal rules of conduct, the gym would be a more pleasant place for everyone! So do your best to:
  • Lower the volume. While exercising to music is motivating and fun, blasting your MP3 player at maximum volume is not. Respect the people around you and turn down the music—not everyone wants to hear your playlist.
  • Turn off the cell phone. Are you there to exercise or to chat? Keep your private life private by shutting off your phone while you’re at the gym. Some facilities have rules against bringing phones inside, especially camera phones. Respect the people around you and leave your phone in the car while you’re working out.
  • Share the water fountain. If you’re filling up a huge water bottle, check to see if anyone is waiting to take a quick drink and let him or her go first. Don’t spit in the fountain or use it to dispose of your used chewing gum.
  • Don’t offer unsolicited advice. Unless you are a certified personal trainer, don’t go around correcting other people's form without permission. If someone asks you how to perform an exercise, don’t give them advice unless you’re absolutely sure—injuries happen all the time and your wrong suggestion could end up hurting someone.
  • Dress appropriately. Torn, dirty clothing doesn’t belong at the gym—nobody wants to see your underwear peeking through your ratty sweatpants. Similarly, cover your body appropriately up top too. The gym isn't the place for women to show off their cleavage (always wear a well-supporting sports bra too), or for men to go shirtless (talk about spreading sweat and germs onto equipment).
  • Wear deodorant. Exercising will make you sweat and that can cause body odor. Wear a good deodorant/antiperspirant to keep odor to a minimum, but don’t spray yourself with perfume before hitting the gym—some people are very sensitive to scent and get headaches or migraines from the chemicals.
Above all, always respect the people around you and follow any posted rules that your gym may have. If you see someone blatantly breaking the rules, ask them politely to correct the behavior or talk to the facility manager about the problem. If you’ve noticed a situation, others probably have as well. Getting along with others at the gym just takes a little common sense. By following the rules of gym etiquette, you—and the exercisers around you—can all enjoy a great workout with minimal aggravation.
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About The Author

Leanne Beattie Leanne Beattie
A freelance writer, marketing consultant and life coach, Leanne often writes about health and nutrition. See all of Leanne's articles.

Member Comments

  • Kids at the gym, ugh! Don't get me wrong, I love kids so much I've worked daycare. The gym is no place for tiny fingers in all the wrong places. They just can't control themselves no matter how well you think they are behaved. They get bored and mess with equipment which could cause serious injury either to themselves or the next person to use it. Get a babysitter, this is "you time". - 1/16/2016 8:04:07 PM
  • I am very fortunate that I get to work out at a new state of the art fitness center at our YMCA. It is very clean with lots of brand new PreCor equipment. There are plenty of wipe machines and everyone seems to use them. There is a water refill station and plenty of fountains. There are always lots of employees in the area to help you if necessary. There are plenty of social areas down the hall for anyone that wants to go socialize. They have plenty of televisions if you want to watch but you listen with your earphones. No loud music anywhere. I don't see or hear about any problems there. All in all it's a wonderful place to work out. - 6/8/2015 10:11:56 PM
  • Your first tip is 100% WRONG!!!!

    Do NOT use your own towel to wipe down a machine after using it! That is so unsanitary. The gym should provide spray disinfectant and paper towels.

    I've seen people at my gym wipe their own sweat, then wipe their noses, THEN wipe down the machine handles, seats & backs. I don't want to use that machine afterwards.

    Because I don't watch everyone who used the machine I want before me, I solved the problem by using the disinfectant and paper towels to wipe down the machine BEFORE and AFTER I use it.

    Several years ago, I got a very bad case of bronchitis after using the gym. There are too many people who think the rules are for everyone else but them. - 1/13/2014 11:36:43 AM
  • I actually quit going to a particular gym because there were people there who would come up and try to chat with me while I was working out. At 6:00 a.m. every day they would be at my treadmill visiting. Here I am, hair a mess, no makeup in my workout clothes trying to get my workout in before I had to get to work - not the ideal time for a leisure stroll and a chat! - 8/2/2013 6:30:36 AM
  • Every gym should have this article printed, framed and hung up at the door. If you walk through the door and cannot follow these common-sense etiquette guidelines, you can turn right around and leave!!

    Yesterday I saw a girl wearing "shorts" that, I kid you not, were smaller than the underwear I had on (which are called "cheeky" style!) ... She was doing squats. So in addition to cheek down below, and crack up top, everyone on the line of treadmills got to see a hungry butt gobble up the "shorts" with every downward motion. But it gets worse. For reasons unbeknownst to me, she gets on the floor, grabs her feet, spreads her legs and just rolled around. That's when I decided I'd seen enough and went into the other room. It might have made more sense if we were in the general area where creepy men might look her way (if thats what she wanted..? But we were in the women-only room...)

    Another pet peeve of mine is this one woman who insists on being naked ALL the time in the locker room. 30 minute conversations with her friend completely naked? Every day! Doing her hair before a shred of fabric covers her body? All the time! And here's the worst...I walked in once to see her completely naked, save a pair of underwear at her knees...and she was changing her maxi pad....NO ONE ---EVER---- WANTS TO SEE THAT, EVER. - 2/22/2013 10:20:10 PM
  • I would like to add. Yes, BO is gross, yes, you should wear deodorant, but please, PLEASE don't flood the gym with perfume or cologne. One of my biggest pet peeves is having someone come in wearing an axe bomb or having just showered in perfume while I'm running. Not only is it gross, but some people have allergies to things like that and they can trigger an asthma attack. - 12/3/2012 6:20:14 PM
  • As an owner of an independent small fitness gym, I want to make gym etiquette intuitive as possible. I provide free towel service and disposable wipes to clean off the equipment before and after use. I also keep a keen eye on any members that may be a bother to others. I also have my staff follow a detailed cleaning checklist everyday (downloadable version is available on my blog). I would greatly appreciate any other advise that would help me help my members to have great gym etiquette!

    Great article and thanks for posting it! - 10/30/2012 4:03:23 PM
  • I'd like to add something to this list: The gym is not the place to try to hit on people. It's inappropriate and rude. I don't know anyone who thinks it's cute or flattering when someone ogles them and comments on how their butt or their boobs look, or tries to strike up a conversation when they're very obviously working on a challenging set or trying to pick up their pace on the treadmill or something. Just because I have on yoga shorts and a tank top/sports bra doesn't mean I'm trying to get picked up. I'm trying not to have a heat stroke or have my clothes getting in my way and distracting me. - 8/15/2012 3:46:00 PM
    Oh lord I wish some people in my gym would follow these rules!! - 8/15/2012 1:55:15 PM
  • Children in the gym annoy me to no end - 7/7/2012 4:42:22 AM
    Ewwww @ jujubetoo and twoofthree. You don't wear deodorant! NASTY!

    Nobody wants to smell your stink. Get over yourself and slap some Sure on those pits. - 5/31/2012 12:57:01 PM
  • My last job was as a night serviceman at one of the city's rec centres (didn't pay much but paid the bills til this one came along) and they had a weight room you would be surprised at HOW LAZY these so-called "fit" people were when it cam to putting away weights or benchs -DISGUSTING - 12/14/2010 8:17:30 PM
  • If you are sick, coughing, sniffling, have a cold, ... Please STAY HOME! - 12/14/2010 4:09:47 PM
    One other item that should be mention is people having personal conversations. Iíve seen people standing around free weights or even sitting on machines talking about their weekends or whatever. Not working out.

    Iíve been in the cardio area where people are very casual with their workouts and holding conversations while on a treadmill. Itís obvious they are not working hard enough. Need to work hard enough to answer a simple question but not easy enough to hold a conversation.

    I belong to the YMCA. There area a couple areas away from the weights and machines where people can rest and talk. These areas need to be used.

    Thanks for letting me vent. This is a real pet peeve of mine. - 12/14/2010 3:18:50 PM
    Very practical "meat and potatoes" advice for working out in the gym! This is one of the reasons that I wear work-out gloves, in addition to protecting my hands from blisters. It helps to know that at least parts of my hands are averted from rubbing in someone else's sweat ! I think the core value of your article is something we all need to be reminded of, and that is, treat others in the way we want to be treated. My gym provides wet wipes and antibacterial wash, and I use them. The world can be a much better place when we think of others and not just ourselves ! I cancelled my membership to one gym partially because of the poor cleaning habits and bad hygene of the facility. Thanks for speaking the truth ! - 12/14/2010 9:07:40 AM

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