There’s something you need to know. Every gym has an etiquette. You might be starting your health and fitness journey, and you want to fit in. That’s why you’re reading this. We get it. We were the same when we first started in the gym. It’s scary enough entering for the first time without not knowing the proper gym etiquette. We have you covered in this article.
However… if you’re the person who’s been going to the gym for a while, knows that gym etiquette exists, but ignore it, please stop being such an idiot. Follow it. It’ll make the gym a better place to be, trust us.
Anyway, let’s get into it.
Here are our 15 Gym Etiquette Rules:
Put your equipment away
Please… don’t be one of those people who doesn’t put their equipment away. At Sports Samurai, we think you’re being stubborn and arrogant, if you take something out to use, and don’t put it away. Yes, you pay for a gym membership. But realistically, it isn’t that much money.
Gyms struggle to employ staff (this is a conversation for another day!), which is why there aren’t many around. Don’t abuse this, and don’t expect other people to tidy your equipment.
If you add weights to a bar or use plates anywhere else, put them back on the racks. If you take out any equipment, including mats, for any work you do, or use any equipment for a circuit, put it away after. Once you start doing it, we’re sure other people around you will follow. This will make the gym a better place to be.
Treat the gym as you would your home
If you have any rubbish, including bottles, tissues, wrappers, banana skins, or anything else, put these in the bin. Don’t leave them on the gym floor.
Clean up after yourself at all times, and treat the gym as you would your home. If you want the gym to be clean and tidy when you come in, leave it clean and tidy when you leave. This will help the people coming in after you.
Wipe down equipment after use with a towel, or use the wipes that some gyms provide. If you spill anything, clean it up, or at the very least, let someone know!
If you want to use a piece of equipment that’s taken, ask people how long they’re going to be, or if you can join in
When someone is using a piece of equipment, and you need to use it, don’t just assume that they’re okay with you joining in. Ask first, and ask politely. Don’t assume that they’re going to be cool with it. Most people will be fine with you joining in, but some aren’t.
If they’re not, that’s entirely their prerogative. Don’t get annoyed. They were there first. Wait for them to finish, or do something else in the meantime. Be patient.
Once you get more used to spending time in the gym, you’ll have a bunch of exercises in your armour. If a piece of equipment is busy, you can move on to the next exercise. It’s that simple.
Squat racks aren’t for bicep curls
We know you love your biceps and want them to grow. We appreciate that.
But we’re sorry to say… squat racks aren’t for bicep curls. The exercise squat racks are designed for is in the name (squats!). There are, in fact, other uses for squat racks, but bicep curls aren’t one of them.
Most gyms only have one to three squat racks, because they’re expensive. If you’re using the squat rack for bicep curls, then be wary that other people might need to use it, so move if they do. It’s acceptable when the gym is empty, but if not, be considerate. Even better – don’t use it at for bicep curls at all. It’s not necessary.
What exercises can you do on a squat rack? For those who want some help on how to squat, or to understand other exercises that can be done on a squat rack, this is a great article.
Spend less time on your phone
You’ve come to the gym to exercise, not to spend the whole workout on your phone.
The point of coming to the gym is to exercise and to live a healthier lifestyle. You may have goals too, such as to weight loss or weight gains (if weight loss is your goal, check out our blogs on weight loss here, or weight gain here). Work on these whilst in the gym and spend less time on your phone.
There’s two types of people that frustrate us and other gym-goers. The first are the people who sit on a bench, or a machine, and don’t do much because they’re glued to their phone. Other people need to use these, so use it, and move on. The second is the people who speak loudly on the phone in the gym. We don’t want to hear your conversations!
Leave your phone at home, or in the locker, and get your workout in. Most things in life can wait for longer than you think, and you don’t need to be responding to people straight away. Remember why you came to the gym in the first place!
Use reasonable weights
Nobody likes people who show off, especially when they have terrible form.
Don’t get us wrong, at Sports Samurai, we’re big fans of lifting heavy weights. This helps muscle to grow and increases your resting metabolism (see here for more benefits).
But, this needs to be done correctly. It takes time for most people to build up to lifting heavy weights. Be reasonable, and don’t compare yourself with other people. They may have been training for longer than you. It’s not a competition. Be safe.
Linked to the point above, people usually grunt when weights are too heavy for them. Stop this. It’s annoying as hell. There’s no need to grunt.
In fact, when lifting heavy loads, the Valsalva manoeuvre is something to be looked at. This is a process in which you hold your breath whilst lifting, thus eliminating grunting. Don’t believe this is possible? Watch the videos in the link to see crazy heavy lifts using the Valsalva manoeuvre. Give it a go.
Even if this isn’t for you, stop grunting regardless. You don’t own the gym! It’s common courtesy and part of our 15 gym etiquette rules.
Don’t make fun of other gym goers
Everyone has to start somewhere. We’ve seen people in the gym before who are taking Snapchats or Instagram stories mocking other people, either because they don’t know what they’re doing, are overweight, or a variety of other reasons. This isn’t cool. They’re trying their best.
You never know what someone has been through to get to the gym in the first place. Instead of making fun of people, give them an encouraging smile, in order to make them feel safe and comfortable. You never know how this may change a person’s opinion of the gym, and keep them coming back for more.
Have a browse through our high-quality gym bags at Sports Samurai…
Less of the selfies
We talked about phones above, but now we’re talking about selfies (you can tell we dislike people on their phones, can’t you?).
The next rule is simple: fewer gym selfies in every mirror in the gym. We know you’re excited to be going to the gym, and want to show everyone. In fact, we believe telling people and making yourself accountable helps with your goals.
But, there are other people in the gym trying to exercise and may need the mirrors. It gets worse when people take their tops off to take selfies. Yes, we did say treat the gym as if it were your home, but this is taking it too far! Leave your top on, and stop showing off. In fact, stop the gym selfies full stop.
Follow your gym’s rules
Every gym has rules. They’re sometimes written at the main reception, or dotted around the gym. Follow them. It’s that simple. Some of them will be covered here (such as putting your equipment away), but every establishment rightfully has its own. That’s all we have to say on this one!
Don’t attempt to talk to, or walk across, someone who’s about to lift (or lifting!)
Lifting heavy weights requires concentration. You have to be in the zone. You have to pump yourself up. You’re ready to set a new PR. 3…2… “Hey, how long are you going to be on that?” Please, do not be one of these people.
If someone is obviously about to lift a heavy weight, or in the middle of a set, don’t interrupt them, or walk across them. Both can be distracting for the person lifting, and therefore, can be unsafe.
If you need to speak to someone, wait until they’ve finished their set, or make the decision yourself. If you need to walk across them, again, wait until they’ve finished their set, or walk the long way around. You’re there to burn some calories, aren’t you?
Turn your music down
Music is great for the gym. It helps people exercise for longer, push more weight, and is a good source of motivation.
However, when listening to music, try and keep it down. The whole gym doesn’t need to be listening to your music, and it might annoy other people.
To add to this: do not, for any reason whatsoever, put your music on loudspeaker. If you forget your headphones at home, tough. It’s your own fault. One session without music isn’t going to kill you.
Step away from the dumbbell rack
Choose the dumbbells you want, and step away from the dumbbell rack. There’s no need to stand right next to it whilst you perform your exercise.
By standing right in front of the rack, you’re stopping people from getting the dumbbells they need. We understand that it’s not always possible, as some gyms are fairly small, but try and be wary if you can. If you do need to stand right next to the rack, move aside after you finish your set. This way, other people can get what they need too!
Only help people if they ask you
Yes, you may be a gym veteran, but that doesn’t mean everyone who’s new to the gym needs your help. You might have bigger muscles than them, but have you ever thought that this may intimidate people, rather than help them? If people ask for help, then of course…
But, if not, let them be. Most people don’t like being told what to do and learn from their own mistakes, just like you did a long time ago. If you do want to give advice to other people, do it politely. Ask them if you could help them out, rather than assuming they need your help. If they say no, move on.
An even better way of helping people out is by getting to know them as friends first. Once you’ve had a few non-gym related conversations, they’re more likely to be open to hearing your advice. It’s like a friend helping them out.
Wash your workout clothes, and take showers
The final gym etiquette rule is… don’t step into the gym with unwashed, or damp clothes. And make sure you have regular showers throughout the week. We agree you’re meant to sweat in the gym, so you might get smelly. But there’s a balance between going to the gym in clean clothes and showered in the last 24 hours, or not. This isn’t fair to other people around you, as it affects their workout.
Be considerate to other people – that’s all we’re asking! It’s basic hygiene, surely?!
Gym Etiquette: The Final Verdict
We’re trying to make gyms around the world a better place to be. We want people to feel more comfortable in the gym, whether a beginner or a veteran. Following these 15 gym etiquette rules will help with that. We know there’s a lot to remember, but the majority of it is common sense.
Pro Tip: Be mindful of other people, stay clean and tidy, and leave your phone in the lockers (or at home!). Above all, be considerate to others, and treat them as you’d like to be treated.
Are there any more rules that you can think of? We’d love to hear them. Let us know in the comments below.