How to Have Good Gym Etiquette

By Kate Harveston – February 15, 2020

Are you a diehard gym rat? Maybe you merely enjoy pumping iron or taking a class a few times per week. The way you behave when you’re at the facility determines how others can enjoy their workouts, too.

Gym etiquette matters because a lack of manners leads to a negative experience for everyone involved. As with most things, the golden rule applies. If you’re in doubt about the right course of action to take, consider how you’d feel if somebody else acted similarly. However, given the unique gym environment, here are some extra tips to keep in mind.

1. Follow the Rules

“What do you mean, there’s a 20-minute limit on the elliptical? I need an hour of cardio today!” Guess what? As much as you might like it to, the world doesn’t revolve around you. Fitness facilities have a finite amount of equipment, and everyone has to share. It’s one thing if you hit the gym at 3 a.m. and there’s nary a soul in sight. However, if you’re in a packed location, respect the time limits.

Besides, sharing helps you have a better experience, too. You’ll meet more friends and even build your network while you work out — if you respect the needs and feelings of others. Your mama was right — sharing is essential!

2. Show Encouragement

Have you ever felt insecure when you sported a new pair of leggings for the first time? Everyone at the gym has a personal tangle of insecurities, particularly those who don’t fit the image of the traditional fitness enthusiast. For example, did you know that one-in-three men and one in two women engage in no physical activity by the age of 75? Often, the people who are intimidated by working out need the benefits the most.

Show encouragement to others at the gym — and that doesn’t have to mean complimenting their appearance. You’d be surprised how far a welcoming smile or a friendly greeting can go toward making someone with insecurities feel more comfortable.

3. Practice Good Hygiene

All gyms have some degree of BO smell — it’s inevitable in a place where people go to get sweaty. However, that isn’t an excuse to wear the same attire until it stands up and walks on the treadmill by itself. Pay heed to proper hygiene.

You don’t have to shower before arriving, but do launder your gym clothes on a routine basis. Your skin contains odor-producing bacteria, and it flourishes in a moist environment — like your bag.

4. But Skip the Body Spray

Strong odors can aggravate people with various health conditions. While you may adore bathing yourself in fruity body spray, you could trigger a migraine or an allergy attack in a fellow gym-goer if you slather it on too thickly. Wait until after your workout before applying perfumed lotions or other scented products.

5. Rerack Your Weights

Maybe you have no problem hefting a 30-lb dumbbell, but the next person on the rack may lack your strength. Always take the time to rerack your weights. This act shows consideration for others — nobody enjoys interrupting their workout to scour the facility for the missing dumbbell that makes up a pair.

6. Share Between Sets

If you use the weight machines at the gym, don’t sit there resting between sets. Yes, you want to finish your workout, but everyone can squeeze in their fitness more efficiently when you let others work in between your sets. You can use this time to perform some stretches or mobility drills to keep yourself pliable.

7. Put Your Phone Down

If you’re continually staring at your phone, you risk injuring yourself — or others. You could bump into something and get a severe bruise. Worse, you could accidentally jostle someone who’s already struggling with a heavy barbell and cause significant harm. If you have to reply to a text or edit your playlist, stand off to the side to avoid impeding other exercisers.

8. Wipe Off the Equipment

Have you ever sat in a puddle on the leg curl machine? If so, you probably felt disgusted. You have every right — one study showed that free weights at the gym have 362 times more bacteria than a public toilet seat. Even if you think you didn’t leave an icky mess for the next person, do your part to eliminate germs. Use the sanitary wipes the facility provides or bring your own.

9. Wash Your Hands

We’re in the middle of cold and flu season — plus, the coronavirus recently arrived stateside, posing a new threat. The best way to prevent disease spread is by washing your hands. You want to do so after using the restroom, but it’s also a wise idea when you arrive and before you leave. You can use hand sanitizer in a pinch, but make sure to rub it in thoroughly — not wipe the excess on your pants. Also, make sure you’re washing your hands for 20 seconds.

Proper Gym Etiquette Makes a More Pleasant Experience for Everyone

Gym etiquette makes for a more pleasant workout for everyone involved. Be a good neighbor and enjoy fun and fitness together!


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