blue dumbbells scales shoes exercise ballrules to follow in the gym for proper gym etiquette

26 Unspoken Gym Rules To Avoid Dirty Looks

This post may contain affiliate links. Disclaimer can be read here.

Following Proper Gym Etiquette Can Make Working Out A Great Environment For Everyone!

Following the unspoken rules of proper gym etiquette is an important part of creating a great environment for everyone around you (including yourself!)

You have probably noticed signs hanging on the walls that share the ‘hard and fast’ do’s and dont’s for the members.

However, these are not the only gym rules that should be followed, whether you are a newbie or a seasoned gym-goer!

rules to follow in the gym for proper gym etiquette

I used to think everyone knew the unspoken rules of proper gym etiquette until I thought back to when I was a new gym-goer.

There was so much I had to learn!

On the other hand, there are the people that know and understand these unspoken rules of proper gym etiquette and simply choose not to follow them (hint: don’t be that person!)

These people can create a miserable environment in one that should be filled with fun and spirited energy.

This list of unspoken gym etiquette rules will give you a great start to showing respect to others at the gym. They are in no particular order, because they are equally important.

Here we go! The first part of the list focuses on etiquette outside the lockerroom, typically considered the ‘gym floor.’

Unspoken Rules Of Proper Gym Etiquette For Newbie & Seasoned Gym-Goers 

1 | If you aren’t using the machine, get off of it until you are ready to use it

Sitting on a machine (or bench, equipment, etc.) and chatting with another person or texting for semi-long lengths of time (more than a few quick words) is just not cool!

Even if someone is not hovering around you waiting to use the equipment, there could be someone across the gym waiting on you to finish so they can take their turn.

It’s just about being respectful to other people’s time!

texting while using the bench while working out at the gym

This guy had an extensive conversation (obviously – these are long messages!) via text while sitting on the bench hovered over the dumbbells sitting on the floor in front of him.

I was working out next to him and this went on for almost my entire workout (about 50 minutes) . . . he did one lift during that time and hogged the bench and dumbbells the rest of the time.

Don’t be this person! How can someone be so inconsiderate? ?

2 | Don’t load a machine so heavy you have to rest an inappropriately extensive length of time between sets

I would have never thought to include this example in an article on the  unspoken rules for proper gym etiquette if I had not personally experienced it (along with extreme frustration!) I was waiting to use the bench press and could not believe someone would do this …

This guy had the leg press loaded so heavy he could barely lift the weight. I’m not exaggerating, it took him close to a minute trying to lift it before it would even budge and he could gain some momentum to keep going.

When he would finally get it to move and finish the lift, he would take literally 10 minutes (and longer several times) in-between sets to try to recover and then do it all again.

I watched this go on for well over 45 minutes because I had the leg press on my agenda for the day. I did every exercise I could while I waited for the machine to open up. When my workout was finished with everything except the leg press, I walked over and stood in the area (rather than checking back every now and then.)

He definitely didn’t like me watching him, but then again, if I was struggling like that I wouldn’t want someone standing beside me either! ? At that point he tried to pick up the pace and just give himself a normal recovery time . . .  which didn’t work so well for him!

When he didn’t have 10+ minutes to recover between sets he couldn’t even budge the weight. It either embarrassed him that I was watching that, or he knew it was a futile effort, and left shortly thereafter!

Don’t be this person!

Be courteous of other gym-goers and realize they want to use the equipment while they are there, too!

(Note to self: If you truly need a 10+ minute recovery break to be able to complete the next set … it is probably loaded too heavy and you are risking serious injury!)

3 | Take off what you put on …. I am referencing unloading the machines after you load them

Have you ever been the one to do this: You load up a machine, complete your sets, then get up and walk away and leave the machine loaded.

Not cool!

4 | Don’t spit water out in the water fountain

Do I really have to put this in writing?

woman with disgusted face

Unfortunately, yes!

I have personally witnessed this disgusting act and while the spit-out water just washes away, it is just not right to do. I haven’t seen a female do it (sorry guys), but just in case it is worth the mention!

5 | Don’t invade someone else’s ‘space’ . . . and don’t cut through equipment when someone is using it

Have you ever been having a conversation with someone and they move in super close to you …. too close?

Working out is the same … people like their space around them. Plus, depending on the movement they are doing you could get hurt if you get too close and they accidentally hit you!

The workout floor should not be treated like an obstacle course . . . or like you are trying to dodge a moving windmill on a putt-putt golf course!

When people are using equipment they have to be in that space and they cannot move. Don’t get in their way – use the walkway (that is what it is for!)

6 | Don’t do curls in the squat rack

Ok this is the deal: The squat rack is made for squatting, overhead pressing, benching, and essentially barbell exercises that are difficult or impossible to do elsewhere.

Anything outside of these things (including curling) can be done elsewhere, so don’t tie up the squat rack if you aren’t really using it.

This goes for many exercises.

If you are using equipment for something other than it is intended for, prepare to get complaints from the people that respect this unspoken rule. And rightly so!

7 | Don’t turn your earbuds so loud you aren’t in tune to others and your surroundings … and on a similar topic . . . don’t sing out loud to your music – you have no idea how loud you are singing and your treadmill neighbor would probably like to listen to their own playlist

If you have never been beside this person in the gym, you are one lucky gal!

It is irritating at the least!

8 | Don’t start a long conversation (or any conversation in some cases) with someone that is in-between sets or getting in a cardio session

If someone has in headphones, it probably means they are in their own workout zone and don’t want to chat (long or short conversation!)

Which leads right into #10 …

9 | Wear your headphones

Everyone has their own ‘get in the zone’ playlist . . . they don’t want to listen to yours!

Recently I was doing a cardio session on the elliptical and the lady next to me was scrolling through you-tube videos . . .  with no headphones. It was both irritating and frustrating because she had the volume super high so she could hear over the gym noise. This is fine with the exception that I could also hear every word (even with my headphones in.)

You may not be into a serious workout (I could never scroll through videos on my iPhone and get a great workout at the same time), but remember, you are likely not the only one in the gym!

fitness workout images for proper gym etiquette to follow

10 | Don’t walk in-between the mirror and someone lifting

Yes, some people use the mirrors to admire themselves (I hate to say that but it is true!) However, that isn’t their purpose!

If the gal (or guy) is using it for what they are intended, she/he is monitoring their form and trying to avoid injury and/or increase his gains, etc.

11 | Don’t let it all (or anything!) hang out! Dress appropriately for the gym and the exercise!

I was recently on the stair stepper and the lady next to me had on shorts (no problem), a midriff shirt … and no bra (problem)!

Ladies, don’t be this person! There is a time and a place to be risque, and the gym is not the place!

12 | Don’t place your water bottle, a towel, etc. on a bench, cardio equipment, or machine so you can use it later or to save it for a friend

Saving a seat is so … middle school!

Everyone is busy. I want to get my workout finished and get out of the gym as quickly as possible, just like you!

This one is simple: Be respectful of others and of other people’s time. Your time isn’t any more important than their time.

I actually saw a guy walk into the gym, put his water bottle and a towel on a treadmill, and go into the locker room.

Don’t be this person. Just . . . don’t!

13 | Keep the grunting, groaning and swearing to your home workouts (not a typical action of a female … but just sayin’ in case this is you!)

Maybe this makes you feel like you have more strength?

Or maybe you think it makes you look like you are stronger and getting in a super terrific workout to others?

Whatever the reason, others don’t want to listen to all the sounds you can make during a lift. Hold them in and save them for a workout you do at home (or anywhere outside the gym where you are by yourself!)

14 | Don’t offer advice unless it is asked for … and even if you’re asked proceed cautiously

You may be a fitness expert, or you may not be, but either way advice should be given only when asked for and never so much the other person wishes they had never asked!

And if the situation is right to offer a bit of help, do so sparingly.

There are people at the gym that sincerely want and need help. I am all for helping them, and I am more than willing if they approach me.

However, there are just as many people that need help because they are doing an exercise inappropriately, but they don’t want to hear that or be told.

I was recently working out next to a gal that appeared to be just starting at the gym. She was trying to figure out how to use the weights. I am not being direspectful because after all, everyone has to start at the beginning.

How do I know she was new? Just a calculated guess. ?

She spent the first 30 minutes adjusting her clothes so she could get her selfies just right. Then she finally started lifting, which consisted of throwing her arms and the weights around like they were kettle balls inflated with air instead of weight.

Honestly, I was not only concerned about her safety but the safety of anyone that happened to walk by her!

I considered mentioning the importance of form and controlled movement for the best results (in a nice way, of course), and then decided against it.

First, was it really my place to be her coach? After all, I didn’t know what results she was trying to get or her workout goals.

Second, did I really want to stop my momentum and offer advice when it was not asked for?

I thought it through and decided it wasn’t my place to say anything to her. If you are going to the gym, you are big enough to research and figure out correct form for a lift.

In today’s internet world of videos, if someone really wants to use correct form, they can access the information in a matter of seconds.

Not to mention the importance of figuring it out so you actually see results and you aren’t just wasting your time!

Hmmm . . . maybe this goes back to the true fact that not everyone goes to the gym for results. There are other reasons people have a gym membership (or so I hear!) ?

15 | Don’t bring food onto the workout floor

The gym staff does not want to spend their entire shift walking around and cleaning up spilled pre-workout drinks (this is one of my favorites pre-workout drink) or protein bar crumbs (or whatever you might eat before you workout.)

The gym floor is not a restaurant and it is not made for food. Eat before you get to the gym or wait until you are on your way home.

16 | Leave the perfume off until you leave the gym

If you think your perfume can hide your sweaty smell, save it to drench yourself when you get to your car.

A lot of people are hypersensitive to specific smells. Even a small amount of perfume can be overpowering when they are trying to workout next to someone with it on.

It is best to just go smelling like yourself when you enter the gym zone. Of course, this is considering you took a shower since your previous workout! ?

I recently walked into the cardio section of the gym and a guy walking on a treadmill had on more cologne than most people probably use in a week! In this case, it actually smelled really good, although out of place! ?

It was a Friday night and my first thought was, “I wonder if he has a date after this and he isn’t planning on taking a shower after his workout before he goes?!” ?

17 | Return equipment to the correct place (aka where it belongs)

This is a true pet peeve of gym-goers: A specific dumbbell weight is missing from the rack, only to find out no one around is using it.

This just happened to me a few days ago. At first, it was a mystery where these weights were . . . and then it all made sense.

I saw two gals each grab a set of dumbbell’s and head to the other side of the gym to use them. After they finished they didn’t return them to the rack until they had finished their entire workout (and it wasn’t a short or quick one!)

This is so not cool. Don’t be this person!

If you need to use the weights (or any equipment that is moveable) in another area of the gym, take the time to return it as soon as you are finished using it.

If you have time to get it and take it somewhere else, you have time to walk the extra steps to return it for others to use as soon as you are finished.

18 | Clean up your sweat on and around the equipment before you move on to the next part of your routine

This is just common sense . . . do you want to sit in someone else’s sweat on a bench or look at someone else’s puddles of sweat on the floor where you are working out?

So why would you expect someone to do those things with your sweat! ?

gym etiquette rule: follow club rules
gym etiquette clean equipment after use

19 | Don’t workout in the walking areas

The walking path between gym areas is not the place to be doing your walking lunges, friends!

Find an empty spot where people don’t have to dodge you.

20 | Leave your backpack or gym bag in a locker

I often see backpacks lining the walls around the free weight areas and sometimes even between machines. ?

Other people shouldn’t have to work around your stuff, plus it just doesn’t create a ‘clean’ environment and a lot of people expect that when they go to the gym. Many are trying to escape from the clutter and mess from everyday life!

leave backpacks in the gym locker

This was a rare day when there was only one backpack by the weight racks.

Imagine the space they take up when there are many sitting here!

21 | Follow the gym rules … even if you don’t agree with them

This can be a tough one, and I understand. I get it!

There are rules that I don’t agree with (and some I even think are comical or just plain ridiculous). However, there is a reason they are in place (and even if there isn’t it is all about respect.)

It isn’t my job to decide the ones I should follow and the ones I don’t need to follow.

Be an example to the ones who choose to do it their way and follow the rules! ?

cell phone conversations in lobby only
don't be on the phone in the gym if it goes against gym rules

I have to admit it was impressive that this gal never slowed down her movement!  She didn’t miss a beat through the whole conversation which lasted at least 10 minutes! ?

Moving On . . .

Unspoken Rules Of Gym Etiquette In The Locker Room

22 | Don’t run around in the buff

It is awesome and incredible and amazing you are completely comfortable with your bare self!

However, others probably don’t want to see it. ?

23 | Don’t get intimate with personal grooming

Okay gals, this is a biggie!

It is another example I would have never thought would need to be included in an article on the unspoken rules of gym etiquette!

Stop the personal grooming activities after you get your hair dry!

Specifically speaking, save drying any other part of your body with a dryer, tweezing, flossing, etc. (you get the picture) for a private place other than the gym locker room.

24 | Don’t spread your bag, your shoes, your clothes, your make-up … all your stuff . . . all over the place or in front of other lockers

Have you ever been ready to get dressed but when you get to your locker in the lockerroom there is stuff everywhere . . . including in front of your locker?

If you were lucky the culprit was right there and scooped up all her stuff and moved it.

Not so lucky and she was MIA?

I guess you had to move it yourself and if it upset the owner, well, she can just get over it because it should not have been left there to start!

Keep your area in the locker room small, neat and clean . . . and your stuff where it belongs (in the locker or your gym bag) so others have a place to do the same.

25 | Keep your phone put away

This is usually a gym rule you and you should be following it . . . if not, you are reading it here.

Practically every phone today has a camera . . . just don’t be the person making everyone else uncomfortable because you’re flashing your phone around!

In one of my recent gym visits, I walked into the locker room and a couple of girls were snapping selfies in the mirror . . . in the nude.

It’s not a joke . . . I witnessed with my own eys! And yes, it was shocking!

There are mirrors all over a locker room. What if there is someone getting dressed in the reflection you didn’t notice when you were so focused on taking the selfie?

Just. Don’t. Do. It.

Final Words On Unspoken Rules For Proper Gym Etiquette

Everything we do comes with unspoken rules . . . it’s just how life works!

Following the unspoken rules for gym etiquette is important.

The gym area can get super crowded, especially in peak times. Therefore, being respectful of the equipment and people around you goes a long way to keeping a positive and safe environment.

What other tips do you have for gym-goers?

Hop to the comments below and share away! ?

Products I recommend may be an affiliate link which means I may earn a commission if you purchase at no additional cost to you.  Learn more here.

Keep Reading

Please Share With A Friend!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.
You need to agree with the terms to proceed