If you have ever wondered how to follow gym etiquette, you are not alone. Proper gym etiquette is not complicated; there are a few gym-specific things to know, but otherwise it is pretty much common sense and common courtesy. Be nice to people, share with people, and leave the gym clean and organized. Read on for tips on gym etiquette.
How to Work With Others in the Gym
The most important etiquette tip of all is to simply be respectful of others in the gym. In a public space, people will differ on how they prefer to interact. Some lifters prefer to get their training in and leave with minimal involvement of others. When you see this preference in somebody, please respect it. Other people find the gym a great social situation and want to chat and lift with others. A general rule of thumb is to politely reinforce your boundaries (“great to see you! I’m going to go lift now. See you next time.”) and respect others.
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This means do NOT offer unsolicited advice to people. No matter what. People who want help will seek it. This goes for trainers as well. Despite what your sales lead tells you, do not go tell someone they are doing something wrong. There are other ways to open up conversation and offer support, but unsolicited criticism/advice/suggestions are not the way to do that.
Other things that I consider to be both common sense and worth saying are to give people personal space and be aware of what people are doing around you.
How to Use Cameras and Videos in the Gym
Trending right now is the use of cameras and videos in the gym. People are videoing their lifts, either for form checks, for their coach, for social media, etc. Inevitably there are issues with the use of video in a public place. Just this week, a girl posted a video of a guy “hitting on her” and reposted it to shame him. In this situation, he didn’t appear to be rude. Of course, there are situations where people are creepy, where people aren’t, where people are misunderstood.
A good rule here is that videoing others in the gym is an invasion of space. It’s rude; don’t do it. Sure, videoing your lifts discretely is fine, but a public gym is not your production room. Remember, other people just want to lift without dodging a million cameras walking through the weight room.
Etiquette of Cell Phone Use in the Gym
Exercise tracking is becoming much more popular, and it’s a great way to log your training. My clients, workout partner and I all use Train Heroic to train our workouts. You’ll see us in the gym inputting our numbers quickly between sets. I’m certainly not entirely anti-cell phone use, and I highly encourage the use of phones for logging your training and form check videos.
But please remember no one (literally no one) wants to hear your conversations or your music. Save your chatting for after your session and use your ear buds. Just don’t hog equipment for 20 minutes between sets because your Insta is fire today. K? Get your work in and get out.
How to Work in With Someone
This is “how to follow gym etiquette” 101. Working in with others allows gyms to flow when it’s busy. In this case, you might end up sharing the equipment. People call this “working in” with someone. Resistance training typically has a lifting period and a resting period, which s conducive to sharing. When I lift, my set takes 30-60 seconds. I’ll rest for 1-3 minutes. This is a great time for someone else to work in.
How to Share Gym Equipment
The best situation for working in or sharing equipment with someone is if you don’t have to change the equipment too much. Generally speaking, if someone is doing something like squat, deadlift, bench, cleans, or jerks, it is probably better to wait. Unless your program is very similar to theirs, and your set up (ie height, seat position) is as well, there will be so many variables that it is easier on both of you to not share.
Accessory work is a bit more conducive to sharing. Pin selectorized equipment is easy to share, as it doesn’t require loading and unloading weight plates. Dumbbells and the free weight benches are also conducive to sharing, as you can quickly move your weights in and out of the shared work area.
Sometimes, if you need a machine that’s not easy to share, you can add in an exercise you can do anywhere, like these calf raises, while you are waiting.
How to Clean Gym Equipment
Wipe down equipment before you use it if it’s dirty. Wipe down equipment after you use it. Clean up any sweat, chalk, blood, or whatever else you left behind. After that, you should still wash your hands, wash your clothes, and shower off. You don’t have to be a germ phobe, but just know you probably want to change clothes before you sit down on your couch at home.
How to Treat the Equipment and Use it For What it’s For
The number one benefit of having a fully stocked gym is access to all the great equipment. This is contingent on the integrity of the equipment, which is contingent on taking good care of it. Do not drop the dumbbells. Use the bars for what they are designed for. Each gym will typically explain this to you. Some gyms have specialty bars like squat bars, deadlift bars, and specific bars for rack pulls. Using them in the wrong setting can injure you or ruin the bar.
Additionally, remember that there are certain things you can do only in certain areas. There are typically just a few squat racks, but you can do curls anywhere in the gym. Ergo, don’t curl in the squat rack. Don’t do lunges on a deadlift platform. You’ll appreciate when other people give the same respect so you can get your lifts done as you’d like.
How to Put The Weights Back
Pick ’em up, put ’em back. Haha! Seems easy to me. Like camping, pack out what you pack in, and leave it better than you found it. This means if you bring over bands, chains, straps, specialty bars, or anything else, you have to return it. Do not leave a plate on a machine because you think it’s someone else’s starting point. It’s probably not. This is one of my biggest gym pet peeves. People leave a 45 pound plate on a machine often. The people who do not start with a 45 pound plate on it are the people who can’t move a 45 pound plate. Rude rude.
Return equipment to its starting point and put your own equipment up. Do not leave the dumbbells out either. And don’t expect me to not chew you out if I catch you leaving the gym a mess.
Other Tips on How to Follow Gym Etiquette
There are many many other things I could write about how to follow gym etiquette. Again, may of them are specific to each gym, and are common sense.
- Don’t jump rope inside.
- Don’t claim an entire area as yours.
- Wash your clothes, and lift in clean clothes. Please.
- Don’t bring your dog.
- Wear deodorant.
- Follow the rules specific to your gym.
Finally, speak to the owners/staff if someone is being rude to you. Gym owners are among the most passionate and compassionate people I’ve ever met. It’s not a lucrative field, and it’s one they usually go in for the love of it. They want to help you and they want you to succeed.
The gym really is a friendly place! You’ll find many many people are cheering for you at a gym, and you’ll feel very supported.
Where to Start
If you are brand new to the gym, my program called Square 1 takes you though exactly where to start. It tells you how many sets, reps, and what weight to start with on exercises. It’s $15 for a 6 week program, and you can message me anytime with questions. I’d be happy to help get you started, on this beginning program, or on a program custom written for you! Email me at email@example.com or fill out this form here.