10 Tips For Proper Gym Etiquette for Those Who Are Starting Out

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gym etiquette

Going to a gym can be intimidating, especially if you’ve never gone before.  One way to make it easier and less stressful is to know proper etiquette and understand how a gym operates.  I’m going to go over gym etiquette and a few other items that will help you fit in so that you can concentrate on doing your workout while having fun.

Clean Up Your Sweat

gym etiquette

Sweat happens.  Especially at the gym.  It’s going to be vital that you clean up your own sweat when you are on an exercise machine.  While working out on let’s say the bench press, don’t worry if you are making a puddle of water around you, but when it’s time to move on to the next machine, make sure to take a rag and wipe it down.  Gyms should have rags and spray bottles next to the machines for you to clean up your sweat after each use.  It’s a good idea to also bring your own small towel for wiping up sweat.

Put Everything Back In Its Placegym etiquette

Think of what you learned in kindergarten and remember to apply it at the gym.  Put everything back where you got it.  Go the extra mile if something is out of place when you use it.  Make sure to put it back in the proper place when you are finished.  For example, make sure to put dumbells and handheld weights back on the racks.

Pool Etiquette

If your gym is a YMCA or has a pool, there are some rules to know about before entering.  I’m going to skip the basics like never pee in a pool.  Hopefully, that’s a given.  You will want to follow the pool schedule that should be posted somewhere.  If an aquatics class is going on, then stay out of that section and swim in the other open lanes.

If it’s lap swimming time, pick a lane that is not being used.  Sometimes all lanes are filled so you will need to double up with someone.  Try to pick someone that looks like they are going about the same pace that you will be swimming.  Then make sure they know you are entering. A simple, “Hi, I’ll stay on the right side” will do.  Then stay on the right side at all times. Go down the right, turn, and wait for your new right on the way back.  If you need to pass the person in front of you, pass on the left.

Track Etiquette

gym etiquette

Many gyms have indoor tracks.  The same rules for an outdoor track will apply as an indoor track.  If your gym has specific track rules to follow then follow those rules.  However, if there are no rules posted, then you will need to know some basics.

First, the closest lane to the center of the track is lane 1.  Lane 1 can be for everyone unless there are fast runners and you are walking slow. Then, use the furthest outside lane.  Always give faster runners the opportunity to be able to pass you on the right.  If you see that they are doing a speed workout and you want to get out of their way, only do so way in advance, so that you don’t risk running into each other.

Always run counter-clockwise around the track, unless a rule is posted stating otherwise.  Some indoor tracks may alternate directions every other day.  Be cognizant by looking around for rules and watching what other runners are doing.

Follow Time Limit Rules

gym etiquette

Before getting on a machine such as an elliptical or treadmill, make sure to see if there is a time limit.  Some busy gyms must post time limits such as 30 minutes or 1 hour.  If no one is waiting, you can ignore the time limits.

If You Are Sick, Stay Home

gym etiquette

No one wants to get sick.  Do everyone a favor and stay home if you are sick or just recovering from a sickness.  You may still be contagious several days after being sick.  Be considerate of others by not passing around the sickness that you had.

No Profanity

gym etiquette

There is no problem with using profanity when you are working out at home or by yourself.   But don’t do it at the gym.  If you need to say something when you can’t lift a deadlift, then switch up your words to something else.  Darn, Fudge, etc.  are all fine.  But keep it low, not loud shouts. Respect others as you share the same space.

Arrive Clean

gym etiquette

When you get to the gym, make sure that you have clean workout clothes on and that you don’t start off smelling bad.  Sweat during a workout is totally normal and healthy, but bad hygiene isn’t cool.  Perspiration actually isn’t the same as body odor.  Sweat doesn’t smell, but the bacteria that builds up from not showering off that sweat is what can reek.  No one wants to smell body odor coming off someone else, so practice proper hygeine at the gym.

Keep The Grunts and Groans In Your Head

gym etiquette

If you like to shout, grunt, and groan at home during workouts, that’s fine. But the gym is not the place to share your enthusiasm for your efforts.  Keep in mind that people are trying to concentrate on their own workouts, not listen in on yours.  This same rule holds true for loud music in your earbuds.  Turn it down so that only you can hear your music being played.

Turn Off Your Cell Phone

gym etiquette

If you must carry a cell phone with you during a workout, make sure to have it on vibrate instead of ring.  People shouldn’t have to be interrupted by your phone ringing during their workout.  Someone could be in the middle of maxing out on the bench press when your phone distracts them, and they fail at the attempt.  Try to keep a silent presence while at the gym. If you must take a call, walk away out of the room and return when you are finished talking.

Final Thoughts

Going to a gym should be a time for you to workout and get in shape.  You also may meet some new friends with similar fitness interests as yourself.  By following the rules I mentioned here, you should blend right in without causing disturbances to those around you.  Make sure to show up clean, bring a towel, and have some fun while working out.

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