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Gym Etiquette

Hitting the Gym? Check Your Etiquette

The gym is a shared space where we sweat, work hard and relax. There are some important spoken and unspoken rules when it comes to working out with others, so please keep these in mind the next time you go to work out. Some of these are FitSugar readers' ideas.

  • "Don't go to the gym if you're sick." — jkat

  • Come clean. Your clothes should be washed and smelling fresh. Also, Spectra says, "Please wear deodorant at the gym, especially if you plan on getting really sweaty. "
  • AMP says "Please no perfume [or cologne] at the gym." The powerful smell could cause an allergic reaction in tight quarters.
  • Leave your cell phone in the car or locker room. If you're expecting a call, turn off the ringer and call the person back once you're away from other gym-goers. No one wants to here you gabbing away.
  • Don't be a hog. The equipment is there to share so be mindful of the time limits on cardio and weight machines. If you're training for a marathon and need the treadmill for more than an hour, hit the gym mid-day when it's not so crowded.
  • LesleyP825 also says, "You know what I hate? Hovering. Like if I'm on a machine in the middle of a set and someone is standing over you. Then when I get off they practically jump on top of me to use it. Have some patience!"

For more etiquette advice


  • Don't stare. Aside from being rude, keep in mind that people aren't always looking to meet while they're sweating. If you're interested, talk to the person after the workout.
  • Get to classes at least five minutes early. It's nice to settle in and find your spot, and it ensures that you don't interrupt the class once it's already begun. If you're late, sneak in as quietly as possible.
  • "Don't chat to your friends during class." — syako
  • Clean off the equipment properly. Renees3 reminds us not to use the same towel you wiped up your sweaty face with to clean the machine. Use a clean towel or paper towel and cleaning spray offered by the gym to wipe down handles, buttons, and everything you touched to prevent passing on your germs.
  • "Don't leave your bags, jackets, towels, etc. where people can trip on them!" — millarci
  • "Please don't sit naked on the bench in the locker room. Seriously, for your sake and mine, put down a towel." — spider_pig


Join The Conversation
VeeKeeTee VeeKeeTee 8 years
my cellphone is my music player... and the hogger rule is funny, but true
idawson idawson 8 years
syako - that drives me crazy. talking in class.
JennH JennH 8 years
My husband said I was a prude because I complained (only to him) about a woman at the gym that walks from the lockers to the shower naked and back naked. She has a towel. Use it.
jkat jkat 8 years
I love the shout out! That is my ultimate rule.
laellavita laellavita 8 years
The one thing that really bugs me at the gym is all the noise being made when people strength train. I understand that sometimes, grunting actually helps form on some level because it's exhaling, but there's really a limit. Sometimes it sounds like guys are just taking massive dumps, and it's really distracting.
Spectra Spectra 8 years
Since my gym is inside the hospital where I work, most of the members know each other from work, so if they see someone from their department or whatever, they'll generally say "hi, how's it going?" while they're powerwalking on the treadmills. I don't have a problem with it unless the conversation is super loud and it's distracting me from my workout. People are pretty courteous though...most people keep it short and sweet. And since we have a lot of doctors and nurses that are members of the gym, they always have a pager if they're on call so their phone doesn't ring at the gym. And if you do have a cell phone that you need to use for emergency contact, you can always put it on vibrate.
runningesq runningesq 8 years
For me, it's not the talking itself, it's the topics people discuss on their cell phones that irk me. ... they are so freaking personal, and no, I don't care about who went home with on Friday night or what kind of itchy rash you have now.
LilyLyra LilyLyra 8 years
The fresh smelling clothes comment is so important. There is this girl at my gym who smells RANCID, every time I pass by her I feel like puking. Seriously, wash your gym clothes, and please for everyone's sake, use deoderant!!!
darc5204 darc5204 8 years
I understand the point about being quiet in instructional classes, but beyond that, I'm surprised so many people are bothered by socializing. It's perfectly possible to walk and talk, and walking is a legitimate form of exercise. Also, a little bit of social contact is supportive and makes exercise less of a chore.
danni2009 danni2009 8 years
I don't know what kind of anti-social gyms everyone else goes to but people always chat at my gym classes, I don't really see the problem (except obvs with Pilates and yoga where quiet is an important aspect of the class)? And with people chatting in the gym, it is a public place...screaming,, merely chatting I don't see a problem's like going into a shop and complaining about people talking surely? It's not like the gym is a silent place like a library, it has loud music, and machines whirring and feet stomping etc. Also my clothes should be smelling fresh? Err, I don't see a problem with slightly less than fresh smelling clothes (so long as they don't stink the place out)'s not like people are going to be sniffing your t-shirt (and if they are, that's weird), and it's going to end up dirty anyway... I agree with the other points though, esp. about nudity and machine cleanliness. I definitely agree with the hovering one. In my old busy gym in college these three girls always used to hover around my treadmill which annoyed I spent even longer on the machine(no time limit)-I get one over on them and a better workout!
kclulu kclulu 8 years
I would also add to re-rack your weights when you are done with them. This is definitely something I see men do far more than women, but it makes no sense to me why you would just leave weights that you got out on the floor or on the bar when you are done with them. The other day I had to remove and re-rack (4) 45 pound plates on each side of the leg press that someone left. So irritating and I am guessing by the amount of weight it must have been a man, no doubt expecting someone to clean up after him.
syako syako 8 years
monday, my comment originally (the one in the post) was from an experience I had in a yoga class and a pilates class. Both classes were very quiet, and the teacher was not loud and/or yelling, so you had to have general quiet in the class to hear her instructions on form and poses. And in yoga and pilates form is very important. There were several people who would come to class regularly and giggle and chat through the whole class and be overall so loud that I could barely hear the instructor. That, to me, is a big deal.
teegaall teegaall 8 years
I don't mind if people use their phones at the gym as long as they aren't practically shouting at the phone. I am not allergic to perfume but some people do use too much. A few days ago, there was this one chick who had finished her workout and was getting ready to head out and she had apparently sprayed the whole bottle on her. It was hard to get myself ready while breathing through my mouth.
notinthemood notinthemood 8 years
At my gym, we have people who use the "recovery period" in between sets to read 5 or 6 pages of the novel they brought. On the strength training equipment! They do 5 or 6 reps, take a 7-8 minute break, do another couple reps, another break, and maybe do another set before moving on. Argh... so frustrating! And to make it worse, they don't wipe the machine down!
mondaymoos mondaymoos 8 years
To be honest, I'm not in agreement with any of the cell phone/talking to your friend during class, etc. rules. I pay to go to that gym too. If the noise disturbs you that much, you might want to look into a home gym or noise cancelling headphones. It's a public place. I chat with my friend during aerobics classes all the time, it shouldn't be that big of a deal.
tlsgirl tlsgirl 8 years
I definitely like the staying home if sick admonition. As for cell phones, unless you're a surgeon and you're on call, leave it alone. Anyway, in my opinion, if you're really chatting away the whole time on your phone, it makes you look like a tool.
syako syako 8 years
I like the stay at home if you're sick one! I think if you have a cell phone for emergencies, no one will care. If your phone is ringing off the hook for the whole 45 minutes you're on the machines, people will be bothered by it. I agree, it's about common courtesy. I always try to think, is what I'm doing possibly getting in the way of someone having a productive workout?
runningesq runningesq 8 years
If you are chatting away on your cell phone ... I doubt you are working out very hard...
Chrstne Chrstne 8 years
Talking at the gym is just the worst...they end up being so loud to talk over the music in the background and the noise of other machines. Like, if you can carry on an hour long conversation like you would just walking down the street, why go to the gym anyway? If you're not there to sweat and look like a wreck while doing it, what's the point? The gym is not your local club. Do your socializing where it's actually not considered rude. However, what's worse is when a person on a cardio machine sees a person who he or she knows and waves. That other person comes over and the one on the machine stops and stands, while the friend wedges him or herself between 2 machines to talk to the person who is supposed to be working out. THAT irritates the hell out of me.
wickedlanie wickedlanie 8 years
I don't think people should be talking overly loud to each other either, Anonymous. Moving doesn't do much at my gym. I can go to the other side of the cardio room and still hear every word of some people's conversations. People need to learn to be a little more considerate. Sheena, totally agree. I tend to listen to news podcasts and I have to turn them up so loud to hear them over the music blaring. And really, if the people chatting it up were really there to exercise, they'd not be able to hold a conversation for long. There are other places to socialize.
sheena sheena 8 years
I hate it when the gym's overhead music is so loud that I can't hear my own music in my IPod without blasting it in my ears. I also hate when people work out on either side of you if they can't find two cardio machines together and carry out a conversation over top of you the whole time. They're there to socialize and not exercise if they can talk so long with ease :)
LaurenG22 LaurenG22 8 years
The other day someone was listening to their I-phone's music really loud without headphones. It was horrrible.
wickedlanie wickedlanie 8 years
Tidal, I think if that's what your using it for, it's ok to bring it in. Just don't start talking on it.
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