The Ultimate Guide for Gym Etiquette

There are a few rules to follow when it comes to working out in a gym.


By Lauren Weiss


If you're heading to the gym, the last things you want to deal with are crowds of people, displaced equipment, and sweat from the person who previously used a machine. While some of these etiquette no-no's are obvious, there are other things that could be putting a damper on someone's workout session that you may not be so privy to. Here's a list of some of most common gym etiquette mishaps and how to make it right.

In the locker room

1. Too long conversations: the locker room is already an area that causes some people stress. Most people aren't comfortable showering and changing with a ton of other people present. Stopping to have a 20 minute conversation in the locker room with your pal while others are trying to change and get ready for their workout, or for the rest of their day, can be disruptive, rude and uncomfortable.

What to do instead: tell your pal you'll meet them outside by the juice bar or in the lobby area to finish your conversation there. That way, you'll still get to catch up after you've changed and you won't be disrupting others.

2. Hogging the locker room bench: we get it - when you're trying to change from work clothes into workout clothes (and vice versa) sometimes there's a lot of items involved. But don't be that person that spreads out everything from your gym bag onto the locker room bench.

What to do instead: utilize the locker for space while you're changing. Hang your clothes off the side, throw the pair of shoes you aren't wearing into the locker, and just have a small bag on the locker room bench with your smaller essentials, like deodorant and face wash. That gives others a chance to utilize some of the space as well while changing (or even just sitting to tie your shoes).

On the machines

1. Being too close for comfort: if you're going to a larger gym with tons of members, you typically understand that you may be working out directly next to someone. However, if you have several machines available to you, try not to be right next to someone if it isn't necessary. Most people on machines are there to get their sweat on, not have a conversation. Grabbing a machine right next to them can feel like a mild invasion of their space and their "me" time.

What to do instead: give yourself one machine's worth of space between you and the other people working out (if you can). This allows for a little breathing room for when the gym isn't so crowded.

2. Leaving it all on the machine (literally): sweating is great for your body. It helps cool you down and it releases toxins. It's also not something that someone wants to walk into when they're trying to get their workout in. Not wiping down the machine after you use it is a huge gym faux pas - and can spread germs (gross)!

What to do instead: wipe down the machine before and after you use it. Not everyone will heed this advice, so wiping down the machine before you use it ensures that you aren't dealing with the remains of someone else's workout, and wiping it down afterward ensures that the next person to use it has a clean and sanitized machine.

By the weight rack

1. Not sharing: while many larger gyms have a fair amount of free weights and barbells during peak hours, it can be hard to get a chance to use everything you had planned. Hogging a set of dumbbells while you work four or five sets of one exercise perpetuates the problem and can leave others feeling disgruntled.

What to do instead: ask or offer to work on your sets with someone else. If you're working four or five sets of an exercise, you'll need breaks in between, so working with a partner can ensure that you both get your workout done in half the time.

2. Leaving the equipment anywhere but where it belongs: when you're trying to get your workout in, it's super frustrating when you go to the weight rack and can't find the weights you need, only to see that someone left them out or put them back in a spot where they don't belong. It makes it harder for gym goers to finish their workouts in a timely manner, and it makes it harder for the staff to keep the gym clean.

What to do instead: always make sure you put the equipment back where it belongs. Do onto others as you'd want them to do onto you, amiright?!

In class

1. Personal space part two: Zumba classes can get pretty crowded. Yoga can sometimes feel a bit suffocating. Standing too close to someone can not only make them feel uncomfortable, but can also lead to someone's toes getting stepped on or someone hurting themselves while trying to avoid hitting someone else.

What to do instead: stand with your arms straight out and pivot around in a circle. Your arms should ever touch your neighbors'. Then do a lunge forward, backward, and out to each side to ensure that you have a small circle you can work in without invading someone else's personal space.

2. Arriving late: arriving late to a gym class can cause multiple disruptions. Others have already begun to warm up and the instructor is already leading everyone in organized movement. Sometimes, the equipment you need is on the other side of the room, and others have to make way for you to get over to what you need.

It ends up making everyone feel a bit frustrated and gets them out of their groove.

What to do instead: always plan to arrive 5-10 minutes early. If you're someone who is often late, plan to be 15 minutes early to ensure that you won't be late and won't disrupt the rest of the class.

Hitting the gym can be a great experience! Working out and releasing endorphins is a sure fire way to put anyone in a better mood. By taking these simple steps, you can help ensure that everyone around you gets in a great workout too.

Lauren Weiss is a personal trainer and group fitness instructor based out of Long Beach, CA. She specializes in kettlebell training and unconventional workouts and has been working with both types of fitness for over a year. Lauren has her BOLT Kettlebell Sport Certification through the USA Kettlebell League and has expertise working with kettlebells, barbells, dumbbells and several unconventional fitness tools. Lauren received her BA in Journalism and uses her writing expertise to craft thought-provoking articles about trending fitness, health & wellness topics. Follow Lauren on her websiteFacebook, and Instagram.

Main Photo Credit: Vereshchagin Dmitry/; Second Photo Credit: View Apart/; Third Photo Credit: wavebreakmedia/; Fourth Photo Credit: dvande/; Fifth Photo Credit: holbox/