Gym etiquette — it seems that an awful lot of people don’t use common sense, and they can forget all about basic decency when it comes to shared spaces and fitness centers in particular. We’ve all experienced it: trying to track down a dumbbell that someone decided to leave on the other end of the gym, waiting for someone to get off of a piece of equipment that they aren’t even using, etc.
Not only that, but then there are those who seem to think that the gym is a place to hang out and stare at people as they try to work out. Then there are the guys who try to put on a whole show, grunting, yelling, and generally making the entire gym an unpleasant place to be.
These are individuals who show blatant disregard for gym etiquette. You don’t want to be one of them.
There are certain no-nos in the gym — things that you shouldn’t do, lest you earn the ire of everyone else who is there to work. Gyms are places where people come to put in some time, build muscle, and burn off calories. Some even think of it as an extension of their workplace, or a laboratory. Though there are people who seem to think of it as a hangout or social club, controlling your own behavior to make a trip to the fitness center a better experience for everyone is something you should keep in mind.
Yes, the gym is crowded. And yes, there will be attractive people there in short-shorts and yoga pants.
But those people are not there to be eye candy — they’re trying to get work done. So respect your fellow gym-goers and quit staring or gawking, and certainly refrain from making rude comments or catcalls. If there’s one way to get kicked out of a gym in short order, it’s by harassing others, and you certainly wouldn’t like it if dozens of sets of eyes were watching your every move while you were trying to work out. So bring the focus back to yourself and what you’re trying to accomplish. Stick to your goals, and leave everyone else to their own devices.
2. Grunt — too much
We all make a bit of noise here and there, especially when striving to put up more weight or push our bodies further than ever before. But you’re in the gym — not an extra on the set of 300 or Hercules. Letting out a grunt here and there isn’t going to hurt anyone, but if you’re that guy who is making all kinds of noise every time you bust out a rep? You’re going to quickly wear everyone’s patience down. All you have to do is simply be mindful of your noise level.
3. Leave weights everywhere
Another easy way to make enemies in the gym is to leave equipment strewn about. People are looking for dumbbells and barbell plates, so put them back where you got them when you’re finished. Yes, it’s incredibly common for people to fail to re-rack their weights, but there’s absolutely no reason you can’t do it.
There’s nothing more frustrating than having to wander the gym floor looking for a 45-pound plate because some punk couldn’t put it back on the rack after his or her bench press set. Do everyone a favor, and return things to where you found them.
4. Ignore sanitation guidelines
This is really some elementary-level stuff, guys.
Not only should you be re-racking your dumbbells, barbells, plates, and anything else that you are using, but you should also be cleaning up after yourself. That means wiping down equipment after you are done using it, and getting all of your sweat off any benches, chairs, etc. that you just hopped off of. Failing to do so creates sanitation issues and breeds resentment between you and other gym-goers. Grab a towel, and give the equipment a quick wipe down.
5. Use equipment inappropriately
You know what’s infuriating? Wanting to do some squats, but seeing that someone has commandeered the squat rack to use as his or her own personal curling cube. Don’t be that someone.
Use the equipment as it was meant to be used. Don’t sit around and hang out on the bench press — people want to use it. Don’t take up space on the equipment and stare at Facebook on your phone, or snag a bunch of dumbbells and wander around aimlessly with them. Use the equipment — and if you’re not going to use it, get out of the way, or put it back. Unless it’s 2 a.m. and you’re the only one in the gym, do your best to use your gym time efficiently.
6. Focus on others
This is a more interpersonal conflict than any kind of actual disruptive behavior. When you’re in the gym, lifting, running, or whatever, keep your focus on you and what you’re doing. Don’t get caught up looking at the guy on the next bench over, getting concerned that he’s lifting twice as much as you — it doesn’t matter. During the time you are there, all that matters is you, what your goals are, and what you’re doing to accomplish them.
This is especially important for beginners, who might get overwhelmed or see that they’re lagging well behind long-time lifters. If you find your attention wandering, bring it back to you, and focus on what you’re doing. All that matters is the next rep and the next set.
7. Hogging equipment
We touched on this already with our rule about using equipment correctly. But there are some people who don’t necessarily use things incorrectly. It’s more that they hog things — weights, machines, dumbbells, etc. — in a sort of Putin-esque annexation of equipment.
You may notice someone take some dumbbells or a barbell across the gym for their own personal use. Or as you’re trying to jump on a machine, have someone tell you they’re using it when they clearly aren’t. If you’re at a gym, chances are you’re using shared equipment. Do your best to work with others to make sure everyone can access what they need.
8. Sharing your music with everyone
Music is essential for many gym-goers. Nothing gets the blood pumping like “Vulgar Display of Power” on max, and almost everyone you’ll see at the gym will have headphones in. But there are some people who prefer to use the speakers on their phone or like to sing along. You may have been on a bus when someone decides to share their music with the rest of the passengers. It’s a weird situation and usually ends with a shouting match.
Be aware of your music volume, and be sure to wear headphones. Don’t randomly break into song or start rapping, either. Obviously, some situations may allow you to go with the speakers. But if the place is crowded, keep it to yourself.
9. Taking up space in the locker room
Locker rooms can be crowded, smelly, and uncomfortable. Yet, there always seems to be a number of interlopers. People who are just hanging out — sometimes by the lockers, sometimes in the showers. They’re taking up space and using up resources that other people can use, like lockers and showers.
Remain mindful if you’re in the locker room. If it’s getting crowded, take a quick shower and get out of there. You’ll appreciate it when you’re on the other side, waiting to snag an open shower or locker.
10. Excessive phone use
You’re likely going to have your phone on you when you work out. Most of us use it to listen to music or podcasts. From time to time, that means looking down to change the song, or responding to a text message. But taking calls, surfing social media, snapping pictures, and engaging in long text conversations? That means you’re probably just taking up space, hogging equipment, and annoying other people who are trying to work out around you. Use your phone, but keep it short and sweet. You wouldn’t want to be stuck waiting for a barbell because somebody is talking to their mom and screwing around. So, get in, get out, and save your calls for afterward.