If you are an avid gym goer, you might agree that some people are polite and respectful in the gym and others are absolutely disrespectful and clueless. As a fitness professional and former competitive figure athlete, I feel it is time I speak up about gym etiquette.
I have included a list describing how gym culture should be treated. If you have an opinion about anything I listed, please comment below. If you think I left anything out, let me know and I'll be sure to add it to the list.
Numero Uno: Make sure you are CLEAN! This means come to the gym in clean clothes (not yesterday's dirty gym clothes or stinky underwear). Make sure you have showered recently. Also, wear deodorant. I understand hygiene may be different from culture to culture, but gyms are melting pots, so be respectful and don't come in smelling like a jockstrap!
Number Two: Speaking of smell. Do NOT overdue the cologne or perfume. Some people have allergies and not everyone wants to smell your Axe or Victoria Secret spray. The wrong smell can totally wreck havoc for someone trying to run on the treadmill. It's just as bad as being next to someone who smells like rotten onions, sweat and puke all mixed together. Just make sure you recently showered and have put on some deodorant.
Number Three: Dress appropriately. This one is huge. I am sorry but the gym is not a dance club. No one wants to see your camel toe or ass crack. You don't need to expose your boobs like you would at the beach. Make sure your leggings are not see through. No one is interested in knowing the color of your thong. Leave something for the imagination for crying out loud. The purpose of the gym is to train. Please be respectful to others and remember gyms are also a place of business for coaches and trainers. Also, some gyms have childcare centers, so keep it PG please.
Number Four: RACK YOUR WEIGHTS! This one is super irritating. Gym staff work hard to keep the gym equipment in its proper place. The gym is a shared space. No one in the gym is there to pick up after you. If you were strong enough to load the weights on the leg press than you are strong enough to unload the sled. If you were strong enough to pick up the dumbbells than you are strong enough to put them back. The best part is that the dumbbell rack generally tells you where your weights need to return because the poundage is listed. It is amazing. Gyms are very organized places, so please respect the community by doing your part too.
Number Five: Speaking of cleaning up, please clean shared equipment. I get super sweaty in the gym. I don't always carry a towel, but I do make sure to wipe down equipment after I used it with the disinfectant spray. If you don't like using the spray and a paper towel to wipe down equipment than carry a towel around with you, so you can either lay it down before getting on the equipment or to wipe it down after use. There is not one person who wants to either sit in your butt sweat or clean it up. It's just foul, so please clean up your sweaty puddles.
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Number Six: Do not block the free weights. This might be hard to believe, but you will NOT get stronger by standing in front of the rack. This is beyond annoying. Do not block the rack. It is just rude and it is very intimidating to newbies in the gym. There should be an isle wide space between the benches and rack. No one will steal the weights you want to use because they aren't yours; they are everyone's to use.
Number Seven: Do not hog the mirror. Just like you shouldn't stand right in front of the rack to do your set. Don't block someone's view of the mirror. True, you don't need a mirror to lift, but many people enjoy the mirror. The mirror is a tool in the gym. It helps someone make sure they are lifting with symmetry. This is especially helpful for both beginners and advanced athletes in the gym.
Number Eight: To extend on the mirror, please be mindful of how much you stare at yourself or pose in front of the mirror. It is perfectly acceptable to be proud of how you look and to admire all your hard work. It is another thing to flex or do a model turn after every set. You look like an ass. It is narcissism at its finest. Selfies can be fun, and posing has its time and place, but just be aware of your audience. It does make people uncomfortable whether you realize it or not. If you want to practice your posing for a competition make sure your gym allows it. Not all gyms do. If your gym does, they generally ask you to use a designated area. The reason for designated posing areas is to prevent distracting others.
Number Nine: Make sure you know the rules of your gym. Every gym has different rules about videos and photography. In our day and age, selfies are an obsession. It is like if there is no picture then it didn't happen. Make sure you know the rules about videos and photos. Many gyms do not allow videos, especially if they are meant to promote your business. Also, make sure you are not getting someone in a picture that doesn't want to be. That is a violation of privacy. If you are taking gym selfies be tasteful. A picture of you in front of toilets is just crap!
Speaking of rules, make sure you know how to use machines before use. Machines generally have instructions and graphics to help explain the proper use of the machine. If you are unsure either ask for help or skip its use for the session. If you're too shy to ask for help, then skip the machine and when you get home look up how to use the machine on YouTube. It would be tragic if you injured yourself by incorrectly using a machine, or worse being the main objective of a viral video about a moron using a machine wrong.
Last one on rules. Don't try to be an under the table trainer. It is obvious. I see it all the time and it's upsetting. The trainers in the gym either pay rent to be an independent trainer in the club or work for the gym making less than you want to know. Either way, it's not respectful to the trainers in the club working with integrity. If you want to be a trainer follow the rules and train clients properly and professionally.
Number Ten: There is no need to scream or slam weights. This seems to be an issue for men more than women. It is pretty annoying. I am sure there are garage gyms or places where that is acceptable, but in most gyms it's just tacky.
Number Eleven: Don't be a creep. Gym creeps are the worse. Just thinking of them makes my skin crawl. The purpose of the gym is to workout and destress. There is nothing more stressful and annoying than someone trying to throw pickup lines at you when you are trying to zen out and feel good. If you are digging someone you see at the gym, try to talk to them on the way out of the gym, but don't interrupt their workout with cheesy pickup lines. Also, don't make your staring obvious. It's creepy.
If you ever feel threatened by a person or feel as though you are being sexually harassed please speak to a front desk person or gym manager. Anyone who is overly pushy or overly sexual toward you at a gym is not acceptable and you should speak up.
Number Twelve: Hold your calls and texts. Do not take calls when you are on a machine and get into a long conversation. This is just rude. Other people want to use the machine, and you sitting on the machine like it's your couch having a deep conversation is not polite. If you want to talk on your phone on the treadmill, good luck, but make sure it isn't distracting someone trying to run or clear their mind next you. Remember gyms are place to release stress, not to accumulate more stress. I do not recommend taking a phone call at the gym. It can wait (unless it is a complete emergency). The same with texting. Don't text on weight machines when someone is waiting to use the machine. If you want to text on a cardio machine that is your choice, but are you pushing yourself enough if you are doing this?
Remember, the gym is a communal space. Everyone has the right to feel safe in the gym. Use your best manners. Smile at people once and while. Say thank you. Say excuse me. Be clean and clean up after yourself. Remember you are not the only person in the gym. Be modest and remember there are professionals in the gym working. Reserve other venues for sexual attire and behavior. Be mindful of other cultures. Find joy in taking care of yourself more than taking a million selfies. Most importantly, have fun and work hard!
I am a new mother who has her hands full! I juggle not just my coaching business, but I am also a full time educator. I also teach yoga in the Bay Area, and I mentor first generation college students.