How to Use a Gym

Five things the beginner gym goer needs to know


By Maddy Bond


As we reach the beginning of a new year, many peoples’ resolutions are to hit the gym more frequently. For the veteran gym member, this is both a positive and negative thing. While it’s always good to see others want to better themselves and make some positive changes, it can also be frustrating when newbies come in not knowing the basic, unspoken etiquette of the gym. Some people can be very vocal about these frustrations, and one unfortunate conversation might scare someone away from for the rest of the year! Here are some general etiquette rules and tips to follow to improve everyone’s experience in the gym while you work towards your goals.

Wipe down the machines

This is a general rule that should always apply, but should be especially enforced during the pandemic. It’s gross to see someone finish working on a machine, with a puddle of sweat beneath them, and not clean it up. Always wipe down your area with an antibacterial wipe when you’re finished, whether that’s a weight machine, bench, or mat.

It takes a few minutes at most, and makes the whole gym much more welcoming for other users.

Don’t hog equipment

Put simply, never claim an area or equipment as your own. Taking three sets of dumbbells and keeping them for two hours is selfish, and can frustrate other gym users who are waiting on you to finish. The squat rack is the most common area you’ll see people claim; it’s a versatile area that allows for a range of exercises. Instead of hogging the space for your whole workout, move your deadlifts to another spot, and change it up again for your pull ups. Do a few exercises, then move on. Of course, if the gym is empty, feel free to take your time and use the equipment as you wish. Just be a little considerate of others on a crowded day.

Re-rack your weights

It’s not the job of personal trainers, gym managers or front desk associates to tidy up after you. In fact, it’s a waste of their time. Even if you’re new to the gym, always put the weights back where they belong, don’t just leave them on the floor. Not only is it frustrating for other gym goers trying to locate the right equipment, it’s also a dangerous tripping hazard. Clean up after yourself, and it’ll certainly go appreciated.

Get off the treadmill

This tip is more to help with your goals. While cardio is of course important, weight training is hugely beneficial in any fitness goal, whether that’s weight loss or muscle development. But weights can be intimidating. It’s all too easy to enter the gym, see some huge muscles lifting enormous weights, and hop on the treadmill for 45 minutes instead.

Even contemplating lifting weights can fill your head with self conscious thoughts or feelings of inadequacy. Boost your confidence here by going for it and using the weights during your next gym session. While cardio will definitely help supplement your workout, the weights will help you tighten your muscles and give you that desired toned look.

Ask for help

If it’s within your price range, getting a personal trainer is the best way to learn how to lift weights correctly and understand what a general fitness program looks like. Having someone teach you these important things is key to maintaining that lifestyle, but isn’t always affordable. Instead, during your session at the gym, ask a member of staff for advice on a certain exercise, or some pointers if you’re intimidated by the weights section. They’ll likely be more than happy to help you out. There are also plenty of online or app-based resources that provide great explanations of exercises and workout programs to follow.

Next time you hit the gym, don’t be afraid to ask for help. You should feel confident about your workout, clean down your areas, put equipment away, and encourage others to do the same.

Maddy has worked in the health and fitness industry for 5 years. She has a bachelors in Exercise Science and has recently received her Masters in Exercise Physiology. She has worked with a wide demographic of clients as a Personal Trainer and loves helping people reach their goals and continue to grow.  She is an outdoor enthusiast and dedicates her workouts to rock climbing, hiking and whatever new experiences may come her way.

Main Photo Credit: 4 PM production/; Second Photo Credit: faithie/; Third Photo Credit: wavebreakmedia/