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Gym Etiquette: 10 Essential Do's and Don'ts

Gym Etiquette: 10 Essential Do's and Don'ts

Reading Time: 5 minutes 7 seconds


DATE: 2019-09-30

The gym can be intimidating for new clients. There are tons of people, lots of confusing equipment, more classes than they know what to do with, and once they finally start to get the hang of it all, they realize there is whole other set of unwritten rules to learn and follow. But, don't worry! We've got you covered with 10 essential do's and don'ts of proper gym etiquette to help your clients start out right.

Top 5 Do's of Gym Etiquette

Start out on the right foot! Here are the top habits your clients should follow at the gym.

1. DO Wipe Down Gym Equipment When Done

It's the gym! People are working hard and sweating. That is a good thing. But no one, and we mean no one, wants to sit in a pool of someone else's sweat. Most gyms supply paper towels and antibacterial cleaner to wipe down the equipment after use. It's simple, helpful, and appreciated by all.

Bonus Etiquette Tip: Gym equipment is a great place for germs and bacteria to spread. So, it's also a good idea to wipe down the equipment before use, just in case the previous person hasn't yet read this article.

2. DO Use the Squat Rack Appropriately

The average gym typically only has a couple squat racks. Some locations may only have one. Exercises that are right for the squat rack typically cannot be done elsewhere. The exercise may require a safe lift off and adjustable safety bars that can help with depth and double as a spotter. The squat rack can be used for more than just a squat but keep in mind that there are lots of exercises that do not need the squat rack to be done safely or effectively. So, it is best to leave the squat rack for those that need it and do the biceps curls elsewhere.

3. DO Put Weights/Equipment Away When Done

Gym goers definitely don't want to trip over weights that get left out. It's dangerous. And, they surely do not want to have to go on a hunt for the dumbbells that weren't put away properly. Return all equipment to its proper place. And, in the case that it was already in the wrong place when you found it or you don't know where something belongs, ask a gym employee.

Bonus Etiquette Tip: This includes removing weight plates too. Many people see a weightless bar as an indicator that the bar is open to use. That being said, when plates aren't removed, it sends the message that the equipment is still in use. It may cause an unnecessary delay for those waiting to use the equipment.

4. DO Choose Good Timing When Starting a Conversation

Talking at the gym is okay. It's a social place. But, keep in mind that some people don't like to chat much during their workout. If you choose to strike up a conversation, there are a couple things you will want to pay attention to. First, watch for uninviting body language—avoiding eye contact, intense focus, turning to face away, etc. Second, when someone has their headphones in, it is typically an indicator they are not open to talking. And third, give folks a break when they're in the middle of their set. Wait until they're done and have a moment to catch their breath before you strike up a conversation.

5. DO Stay Off Your Phone

Be present. The gym should be the period of the day where we get to turn off distractions and really focus on the body and mind. It's ok to take a call or text, if you need to, as long as it isn't distracting to other gym goers. But, sitting on a piece of equipment while having a long phone or text conversation is highly frowned upon. There may be others waiting to use the equipment. So, proper etiquette is to step away or outside to use the phone. Free up the equipment and come back when the conversation is over.

Top 5 Don'ts of Gym Etiquette

1. DON'T Be Too Loud

A little bit of noise is okay. If an individual is working hard, grunting, groans, and even self pep-talks are all very realistic. However, when it's excessive, it becomes a distraction for other gym members. Your client doesn't need to be silent, just remind them to watch the profanity, volume, and consistency of the noise they're making. Be respectful of others.

2. DON'T Overdo Perfume/Cologne

Even if the scent smells good, this is a big no-no. In many situations, a whiff of a good smelling cologne/perfume can be pleasant. But, in an enclosed space with lots of sweaty bodies and lungs that want good clean oxygen to fuel the workout, a gulp of air filled with strong chemicals is anything but pleasant.

Bonus Etiquette Tip: This goes for body odor too. Sweat is normal. And most of us stink when we sweat. However, it's important to be conscious of personal hygiene so it doesn't get excessive or affect other members' workouts.

3. DON'T Drop Weights

Being tired at the end of a hard set can make it a challenge to use that last bit of energy to set the weights down safely. But, dropping the weight is a definite DON'T. Smashed toes, bruised shins, broken weights, and damaged equipment are common results of dropped weights. Plus, the equipment is the gym's property and it's important to treat it with care so all members can continue to use it. And, no one wants to have their toes or shins accidentally smashed because of carelessness.

4. DON'T Hog Machines

For those members working efficiently to get through a workout in their free time, it gets frustrating to have to wait for a piece of equipment someone is just sitting on. If you are taking long rest periods in between sets, step away from the weight machine so someone else can jump in and use it during your rest. And, like we mentioned earlier, definitely don't sit on your phone while on the equipment.

Bonus Etiquette Tip: If you notice someone has an interest in using the machine you're on but you're not done, invite them to jump in between your sets.

5. DON'T Stand Too Close to the Weights

Remind your clients to grab the weights and step back from the rack. The space near the dumbbell rack can be a high traffic area. People are constantly grabbing weights and putting them back. If someone lifts too close to the rack, it doesn't allow the freedom for people to grab the weight they need or return their weight to the proper spot. Give adequate space for people to move in this area and don't be a reason why people are unable to put their weights back in the proper spot (see #3 on the DO's list).

Respect the Shared Space

It comes down to being respectful and mindful of others. The gym is a shared space. So, be courteous to others, be respectful of the equipment, and try to keep it a pleasant space for all those that want to use it.

If you're a beginner to health and fitness and looking for a little more guidance on what to do, check out the ISSA blog for tips on avoiding common workout mistakes.

Are you passionate about fitness and love helping others? Check out ISSA's personal training certification to get certified and start changing lives today.

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