This one is mainly for the beginners out there. Making your first steps into a gym can be quite daunting, especially if you are unfamiliar with the surroundings. With that in mind, I have compiled a list of do’s and don’ts in regards to gym etiquette, broken up into 6 main categories:

1. Know how to use the gym equipment safely and effectively.

  • If you are unsure, ask! As an instructor and fellow gym user, it concerns me when I see people using equipment incorrectly. You should never be afraid to ask for instruction on anything you are not sure about. You can then be confident that your workout will not only be safe, it will also be effective.
  • Use safety features. A lot of gym equipment has safety features (e.g. stop cord on treadmill, clips on bars). If you’re inexperienced then stay safe! Some of us may be too embarrassed to use safety features, but think of it this way; which is more embarrassing: wearing the stop cord or falling off the treadmill?
  • Respect the equipment. Some gyms have specific ‘no drop’ policies whereas in others you may just get a dirty look. However, gyms are communal places, everybody shares the same equipment so look after it! Try not to drop weights or ‘clang’ the machines.
  • Ask for a spotter. Many seasoned gym users will be more than happy to help out. It definitely beats dropping the weight in an embarrassing and dangerous way!
    Bench spotter

    Be willing to lend a hand.

2. Clean up after yourself.

  • Re-rack your weights. It doesn’t matter if you’re using dumbbells, weight plates or even a gym ball. Put it back in the correct place so it is ready for the next user and doesn’t obstruct other gym go-ers. This also includes stripping a bar after you have used it.
  • Wipe down any sweaty equipment. This is very basic but some people still don’t bother. In order to keep the equipment clean and ready for the next user, give it a quick spray and wipe. It takes less than 20 seconds.
  • Don’t leave rubbish. I know gyms have cleaners but they usually don’t clean through the day. If someone leaves an empty water bottle or some used blue towel on the floor it just makes it less desirable for the next user.
    No pets allowed

    Don’t be a dog, clean up after yourself!

3. Personal Hygiene.

  • Bring a towel. If you sweat profusely, bring a towel with you. Just throw one in your gym bag and use it on seats/benches to stop your sweat getting everywhere.
  • Wear some kind of deodorant. The gym is a sweaty place, that’s the point. However, it takes seconds to put on a bit of deodorant before your workout so others don’t have to smell your sweat.
  • Keep your clothing clean. Trailing muddy running shoes around the gym after your run may seem convenient to you but it can be annoying to others and can ruin carpets.

4. Equipment sharing.

  • Allow others to work in. Ok, you’re doing some strength training in the rack and it’s leg day. If someone wants to work in on squats then why not let them. Obviously if they want to bench press while you’re squatting then they will just have to wait until you’re done.
  • Don’t hog a single machine. Even if you have an unhealthy obsession with leg curls, how many sets can you possibly be doing? If you’re going to be there a while, see the above point.
    No mobile phones!

    How annoying is this?

5. Mobile phone usage.

  • Taking photos. Many gyms have a no photos policy, but as long as you’re not taking photos of other people then I don’t see the issue. Although they are there to check your form, many people take photos of themselves in the mirrors. As long as you’re not in the way of someone else’s workout then I say snap away.
  • Taking calls, texts, emails, etc. This is quite annoying to a lot of people. I personally don’t mind if people want to play on their phones in the gym as long as they’re not in the way of someone else’s workout. I personally track my progress using my phone as a notepad. However, phone calls are a strict no-no. If you need to take a call, take it outside.

6. Other tips.

  • Be aware of others. I once had a young inexperienced guy lean on a bar that I had just taken off the rack, ready to squat. It was literally on my back but he was not even aware I was using it. Luckily it was a warm-up set but he still got quite the telling off.
  • Don’t use equipment as coat hangers. I’m less tolerant of this in the gym I exercise in than the one I work in .If your clothing is hanging on the equipment that I want to use, it will soon be hanging on the floor.
  • Grunting. I’m not sure where I stand on this one. When lifting heavy weight, you will exhale quite quickly and grunts can happen. I guess it should all be relative though. It’s quite easy to tell when someone is faking a grunt so everybody looks at them and it can be very off-putting. Try and keep it down.
  • Help others. If someone is really struggling, help them! I’ve ran across the gym floor to help someone stuck under the bar on the bench press before – past about 7 other people! Always be aware of your surroundings and be ready to lend a hand!
  • Nudity. Once again, many gyms have clothing policies. You shouldn’t be taking your top off in any gym, your gains will still be there when you get to the changing room!
    No nudity!

    The changing rooms have mirrors too!

Do you have any more gym etiquette tips to share? Drop them in the comments below!