The gym can be a sensitive place. Nothing is worse than being completely in-zone on a great workout when a rude gym patron throws off your vibe by acting poorly. Never be that guy or girl – it’ll annoy everyone else. It’s much better to make gym friends instead of enemies.
Just like in real life, it’s not hard to practice gym politeness. Below are my personal top 7 rules for keeping the peace in the gym and not being a bother to everyone around you:
1. Don’t hog machines and equipment. This is probably the most important etiquette rule of all; if you become an equipment hog, everyone will despise you – I guarantee it. I consider it to be “hogging” equipment when you’ve monopolized something for 15 minutes – a machine, pair of dumbbells, kettle bell, whatever. This applies to multiple workouts on the same equipment, by the way – so if you take the 25lb dumbbells and use them for arm curls, tricep press, and weighted lunges over the course of 15 minutes, I’d say you’re hogging them and you should consider breaking up those workouts into seperate time periods.
Obviously, not a concern if the gym is empty – and maybe you can tell that nobody around would be interested in what you’re using. Not an absolutely hard and fast rule – just be cognizant of who is working out nearby that may want to hop in for a set or two between your workouts.
2. Clean up your sweat. It’s not that complicated. If you’re using a bench and leave a puddle of sweat where your head was, go grab a wipe or use a towel and clean it off for the next person. Would you want to lie down in a pool of someone else’s bodily fluid? Doubtful – so treat your gym neighbor as yourself.
3. Keep your clothes on. This is mostly for the male readers. Do you have washboard abs? Do you have tremendous pecs? Good for you, but leave it to our imagination on the gym floor. Most gyms have rules against working out without a shirt on inside the facility – but beyond that, it irritates people. If you’re a sweaty guy, it makes you disgusting to look at and be around. Also, it makes you look like a jerk most of the time – not super cool.
4. If you think someone is using equipment, ask before you take it. My cardinal rule is this: If someone is next to a piece of equipment, they are probably using it. Therefore, I should ask them about it before I take the equipment. It doesn’t have to be a big production or super awkward – just walk up, point at the equipment, and nicely ask “Hey sir/ma’am, are you still using this?” If they’re using it, just give a thumbs-up and say “Ok, don’t worry about it – I can wait.” If not, then you’re good to go. Just pay the courtesy first to avoid any awkward drama.
5. Don’t over-vocalize. First, let me qualify: this rule doesn’t apply if you’re in a gym or workout area specifically for powerlifting. If you’re in an offcial powerlifting gym or workout area, then you’re probably OK to scream away. But in the regular gym – where people are curling 5lb dumbbells, not 50lbs – don’t grunt like a wild bison. You can and should allow yourself to breath heavily if necessary, but overvocalizations will annoy everyone else. If you really feel the need to get loud, make sure you’re at a gym where that kind of behaviour is normal and not discouraged.
6. Leave other gymgoers alone. I’m not saying you can’t be friendly, say hello, and make some smalltalk when the time is right. If you’re at the gym frequently and at a regular time, then you’re bound to make friends eventually. But in general, don’t pester other gymgoers. Don’t hop in to chat while they’re between sets, don’t interrupt to critique their form, and PLEASE don’t hit on them – not on the gym floor, anyway. Most of us like to stay focused in the gym, and it’s hard to do that when others are needlessly chatting us up.
7. Stay hygenic and wear clean clothes. If you’ve ever worked out around someone who smells like absolute BO, then you know how important this is. I’ve sometimes encountered people who smell so bad that I literally cannot work out with them around. This was only in a small apartment gym with no staff supervision, so there was nothing that could be done about it – but most staffed gym floors in my experience will have an enforced rule against terrible body odor, and I have buddies who have been kicked out of gyms for body odor complaints before. They roundly agreed it was embarrassing – so keep ahead of the curve and at least use deodorant before heading to the gym, and don’t wear yesterday’s smelly gear.
Follow these rules, and I assure you that you’ll be someone who other gymgoers don’t mind being around – leading to cool friendships that can develop among fitness enthusiasts.