Proper Gym Etiquette: What You Should and Shouldn’t Do At the Gym

By Jaden Roberts

January 10, 2024   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

proper gym etiquette

With spring break and the summer approaching, many people will be joining the gym. If you’re new to it, you may struggle with how to behave there. You may even fear getting judged.

To help you be more comfortable with working out, here’s a guide on proper gym etiquette.

Do: Bring a change of clothes and indoor shoes

gym etiquette

Everyone hates when others track dirt and mud into their home and they have to clean it up, right?

A pair of indoor shoes can help keep the gym floor, machines, and other exercise stations clean. While some gyms have full-time cleaning staff, many do not. And for those who don’t, their jobs will be easier if they do not have to follow you around to clean up your mess.

Some gyms are stricter than others about this rule. They may not let you get past the sign-in area without removing outdoor shoes.

Don’t: Forget to wipe down your station

Most gyms provide disinfectant sprays as well as disposable paper towels. I personally avoid gyms which mandate using a reusable towel or don’t provide a way to clean the equipment.

Typically, I will wipe down the equipment if I notice someone leave without doing so. Using them can help keep you and your other gym goers healthy, as well as avoid sitting in one another’s stink. It doesn’t matter if you didn’t sweat that much, or just sat in an area to rest, wipe it down.

Some people work out with towels, but your fellow gym goers can’t know how clean your towel is. One thing I see many people do is to sit on their sweat towel (or even worse, their hoodie) without disinfecting the station. Another is people using their towel to wipe the equipment with disinfectant.

Some microbiologists have said these habits greatly increase the spread of germs in gyms, increasing the risk of getting yourself or others sick. Your towel will carry fewer germs if you disinfect every station prior to putting it down.

Do: Re-rack your weights properly

gym etiquette dumbbells

When using plates and free weights, make sure to put them back where you found them. Some people don’t mind if you re-rack to one 45lb plates depending on the exercise and the gym, but the safe bet is to re-rack all weights.

You don’t want the next person to struggle in removing your weights. Some gyms have labeled areas for plates, dumbbells, and barbells. It is always best to put them in the designated area even if it is not where you found them. Sometimes, I sort weights while waiting for equipment or during a rest period.

Do not abandon your barbells in the middle of the walking area or stack plates into a tower. It is annoying and may lead to injury to yourself or others. Do not mix weights when putting them away. No one wants to have to de-rack and immediately re-rack two 25lb plates to get to a 45lb plate.

Do: Be aware of your surroundings

Be respectful of the personal space of your fellow gym-goers. You don’t want someone to drop a dumbbell on your foot! Be aware of what others are doing. You wouldn’t want to trip over someone stretching or knock out others.

Personal space at the gym is important. Most people don’t like a stranger taking a phone call an inch from their face, let alone when they’re trying to deadlift.

Do not block others’ access to weights, mirrors or gym equipment. For example, moving away from the barbell rack before doing a barbell set will allow others access to the weights without having to wait for you to finish your set or move. Even if it’s crowded, try your best to not stand in between another person and a mirror. You may block their view of their form.

You can do yoga or biceps curls in a different area of the gym. Many gyms have free exercise areas for yoga and stretching so don’t do them in squat or dead-lift areas. Those exercises can only be done in a limited part of the gym.

Don’t: Hog the exercise equipment

Some gyms have strict rules on how long someone can use an area or exercise equipment. Others rely on an honor system.

It may be tempting to make a circuit for your personal use but remember that other people may want to use the equipment as well. Don’t kill your gains to socialize. Although most people at the gym are friendly, you have to remember that they are there to work out.

It’s not a big deal to have a conversation or check your music in your rest period. However, you need to try to avoid spending an hour talking and fifteen minutes exercising. Be aware of your noise level and listen to your music with headphones. If half the gym is looking at you during a conversation, it might be time to quiet down and observe proper gym etiquette.

See Also: 12 Ways To Effectively Waste Time At The Gym

Jaden Roberts

I like to talk about fitness, sports, comedy, and psychology.

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