Gym etiquette: Don’t be a rude slob!

Written by Diane on. Posted in fitness, on healthy living

gym etiquette

If you go to a gym, no matter where you live in the world, you’ve encountered at least one of these gym etiquette faux pas. Maybe it’s that dude next to you or maybe you’ve — gasp! — committed one of the offenses yourself (I have but not telling you which one(s)). The first few times you see a gym etiquette offender, you kind of shrug and brush it off as no big deal but when day after day you see the same nonsense? Well, it gets kind of ridiculous. Today I’m bringing you my little refresher on gym etiquette and telling you some of the worst gym etiquette faux pas I’ve seen.

GO!

A lesson on gym etiquette

If you’re new to the gym or maybe need a refresher course (or just want to vent!), this post is for you. Here’s my list of gym etiquette dos and don’ts that’s compiled from my experience on both sides of the Atlantic.

gym etiquette kettlebells

Don’t drop your weights with enough force to trigger an earthquake.

Yeah, we get it. You’re super strong and can lift, like, mad weight. Cool. Congrats. But lower your weights in a controlled manner, set them down normally and don’t slam them to the ground like you’re trying to crack the floor or break my foot. I’ve had some close calls. And if you really can’t find it within you to NOT slam your weights down, maybe it’s time to do fewer reps or go down in weight. Take it easy, bro….

Wear deodorant.

It’s no surprise that when people are working hard, they sweat, and sometimes that means major body odor. But at least do your part and apply deodorant before starting your workout. It’s the courteous thing to do. We shouldn’t smell you when we walk in the studio.

Put your equipment back and unrack your weights.

Nothing bugs me more than to see giant plates on either side of the squat rack when I’m getting ready to use it that were left by the last person. Those things are heavy and time consuming to unrack. This always seems to happen when I’m short on time. Be courteous and don’t leave your equipment around for someone else to clean up.

Leave your phone in your locker.

Yeah, I know it’s boring in between sets just waiting. I know how important checking your email is. But leaving your phone on the ground is asking for it to 1) Be stolen or 2) Get smashed by someone walking by. And don’t even get my started about the people who have full-on convos while using cardio equipment. The phone belongs in your bag, OK? Exceptions? If you’re working out in a corporate gym (and still, going to the gym should be all about you, so maybe unplugging is a good thing) or you’re expecting a really important call or something else just as urgent. Otherwise, lock it up.

Respect time limits on machines.

This isn’t an issue at my small gym now, but at my gym in NYC, people would often hog the cardio machines and not adhere to the gym’s policy of 20 minutes per person during peak times. The staff rarely enforced the time limits and people would keep at it until the angry stares guilted them into finishing their workout. If your gym has a policy, follow it!

Agree to work in if it’s busy or you’ve been on a piece of equipment for a while.

Sometimes I’m about 5 minutes away from being done with my workout and just need to do a few quick sets of my last exercise. I get to the piece of equipment I need to use and see you hogging it. At 6 p.m. In a packed gym. I ask if I can work in and you stare at me blankly or give me total attitude like I just asked you to wash my car with your tongue. All this means is that you and I share the piece of equipment going back and forth. Win-win. On your downtime I do my set and then vice versa. Really, working in is no big deal. It’s normal gym etiquette. Especially at peak times. Do it.

Wipe down your equipment.

No one wants to touch a machine you’ve been sweating all over for the past half hour. The little spray bottles and towels aren’t there for decoration, so if your gym offers a spray bottle and towel, use them to keep the equipment clean and in good shape for the next brave soul.

Don’t correct other people unless they’re on the verge of seriously injuring themselves.

People don’t like to be called out and they like it even less if you’re a perfect stranger. That said, I see people doing exercises incorrectly all the time — but 99% of the time their bad form isn’t going to cause a catastrophic injury so I just ignore it. It’s not my place so I mind my own business. Most of us aren’t doctors, physical therapists or personal trainers (and even if we are, sometimes it’s best to zip it anyway), so no matter how bad someone’s form is, unless they’re about to break their neck or something else just as dire, just let them do their thing and don’t volunteer any unsolicited advice. People don’t take criticism well.

And a note on gym etiquette in France:

All of the above apply but there’s one addition that has to do with politeness. I don’t live in a big city so maybe this wouldn’t happen in Paris, but here’s something I’ve noticed. Be sure to greet everyone in the weight room with a friendly bonjour and possibly a handshake. This is something I see all the time. Yes, my gym is small and many people know each other, but even still, guys I don’t know will arrive and say hi to everyone, me included. Not sure I’d see this in the U.S.

Click here for things group fitness instructors should never do >>

Any pet peeves to add? What gym etiquette faux pas do you see the most?

 

   

Photo credit: The Library of Virginia / IWoman / No known copyright restrictions Photo credit: .v1ctor Casale. / iWoman / CC BY
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Comments (15)

  • Laur

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    That car-tongue bit had me in stitches! 🙂 agreed on all accounts, only thing I’d add is for people to wear towels in the sauna, I’ve seen some crazy scarring things in there 😉 happy thursday!

    Reply

    • Diane

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      oh man, i can only imagine!! or the people who don’t even sit on towels in the sauna. yikes! glad you got a laugh

      Reply

  • Ashley @ A Lady Goes West

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    Hi Diane! I definitely think people should smile, say hello and acknowledge each other when they on the gym floor, because clearly if you’re both there, you share a common interest. You hit all the main points for gym etiquette here, although we could go into more detail in the locker room hehehe. I’ve seen people working out while talking on headphones, and that just seems ridiculous to me. Time and place, people. Thanks for sharing this funny list! 🙂
    Ashley @ A Lady Goes West recently posted…Class review: CorePower Yoga is hot, hot, hotMy Profile

    Reply

    • Diane

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      Agreed, a little politeness goes a long way. I think the locker room deserves its own post. I once saw a woman shaving her butt in the sink. That was in NYC at a gym that will remain nameless…

      Reply

  • karen

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    Oh when people don’t re-rack their weights…grrr! At least now I’ve worked up enough strength that when I walk to the leg press I don’t have to take off as many plates. 🙂
    Also, another cell phone exception: when you use your phone for music 🙂
    karen recently posted…shoulders, chest and triceps resistance band workoutMy Profile

    Reply

    • Diane

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      Yah, it’s really annoying and there’s no excuse to leave weights all over the place all the time. Silly men. Always seems to me that the women clean up after themselves!

      Reply

  • Aleks

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    Oh my gosh this cracked me up. I’ve seen so many of these in Geneva (and wouldn’t be surprised if I’ve committed some of these sins myself – unintentionally of course). One more I’ve seen quite a bit is really lurpy staff; by that I mean guys who work at the gym and basically hit on all of the girls whilst they are working out. Some fall for it. Personally I don’t get it! Aside from the fact that I’m married I a) just want to get in and out a soon as possible without idle chit chat and b) look positively repulsive when I go to work out. Great post! Xx

    Reply

    • Diane

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      Hahah, luckily I don’t have to deal with any weirdo pervs at the front desk or anything. The staff is really nice so I think I lucked out there! And ditto on looking repulsive. If I look good, I am slacking (that’s what I tell myself hahaha).

      Reply

  • Nellie @ Brooklyn Active Mama

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    I totally agree with ALL of this! Full on cardio phone conversations make me mental and pretty much likely to commit assault. 🙂 I once had a guy try to correct my posture…but what he was telling me was all wrong, and because I was the ONLY female in a weights area with 20 or so lunks around he felt like he HAD to say something to me. Don’t get me wrong I am totally open for correction but he was just being obnoxious.
    Nellie @ Brooklyn Active Mama recently posted…The Tale of the Missing Gym PantsMy Profile

    Reply

    • Diane

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      Hahahah, gotta love when people correct you and they are actually the ones in the wrong. Maybe he was trying to hit on you and just make conversation so he thought he’d give you a few pointers. But there’s no excuse for being obnoxious. Now imagine if he was on the phone at the same time he was correcting your posture?

      Reply

  • Sally Munt

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    I love this post so much. I was nodding in aggrement and laughing the whole time! I worked in a gym for 6 years and now if I go to a gym and the weights are all over the floor my blood boils with anger. Also yes, yes, yes to the point don’t correct my form… I ave ad so many old men try and come and correct my form and I have to really bite my tough when telling them ‘I know what I am doing, thank you!’
    I also cannot stand the people that make unnecessary noises when lifting. Ok make a bit of noise if you need to but do you really have to grunt like a rhino getting his freak on!
    Haha rant over. I love your post!
    Sally Munt recently posted…Island hoping in El Nido, PalawanMy Profile

    Reply

    • Diane

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      It’s always the worst when the old men are doing the moves wrong themselves yet still think they know enough to correct you! I just think it’s their attempt at making conversation, so can’t fault them for trying. 😉 So happy you got a kick out of the post. I had fun writing it 😉

      Reply

  • Gym Flooring Uk

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    Am going to printout this post and thinking to paste on my gym wall. Atleast people will wear deodorant.

    Reply

  • Mary Walton

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    Hi Diane, As I am planning to join the gym in few days so for that i need to know each and every talk about the gym like what to follow, what will effect, which exercise is best to repeat, rules – regulations, etc. After reading your post i got to know many of the new points and how should one behave in gym. It helped me a lot 🙂

    Reply

    • Diane

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      Glad to hear it! Thanks for taking the time to comment!

      Reply

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