Gym Etiquette 101: Don’t be ‘that’ person in the gym

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Some days, your workouts are great. Some days, they’re just so-so. Sometimes we don’t know what makes one day great, another not so much.

But one thing every gym-goer knows is that certain people can easily ruin the perfect workout. You probably know what I’m talking about.

Poor gym etiquette can interfere with even the best-planned workout. And if you’ve never encountered other people engaging in annoying habits in the gym…that may be a sign that YOU’RE the one who’s ruining it for other people.

Here’s our list of the things you should do and the things you shouldn’t do when you’re working out in the gym.


Be an observer.

Pay attention. Before heading over to a machine, bench, squat rack, or weight stack, take a couple of seconds to look around.

It’s simple. If you’re going to use a piece of equipment, put it back in the right place. Being in the zone is what everyone strives for, so this helps reduce unwanted delays and distractions.

Was someone else using it? Maybe they just went to get a drink of water, and they’re heading back.

Be aware that other people are in the gym with you and allow them to complete all their sets before making yourself comfortable at Station X.

Be clean.

Simply put, wipe down your equipment after you use it, especially if you are a heavy sweater.

These days, most gyms provide supplies for you to do this. If you notice your gym doesn’t, then feel free to bring your own towel and place it under you, so you absorb most of your bodily excretions, that’s the nice thing to do.

Be organized.

Put your free-weights away in the right place.

Nothing is more frustrating than looking for the other 20-pound dumbbell that has ended up somewhere by the lat pulldown for reasons that make zero sense at all.

It’s simple. If you’re going to use a piece of equipment, put it back in the right place. Being in the zone is what everyone strives for, so this helps reduce unwanted delays and distractions.

Be respectful with your eyes.

Don’t stare. Don’t ogle.

Regardless of what the cute guy or girl is wearing, the gym is not the place to pick up a date.

Don’t be that icky creep who’s just there for a hook-up. No one wants that, I promise.

Be respectful of your phone.

Some gyms prohibit taking pictures. Rather than complaining about the stupid rules, save your picture taking until you’re home.

If not, be smart about taking pictures; don’t be excessive. One or two pics should suffice.

And for the sake of all things spandex, don’t be having marathon conversations on your phone while lounging between sets on the Roman Chair.

Be kind to the newbies.

Rather than smirking and rolling your eyes at the newbies in their brand new workout clothes or the person struggling to figure out the machine, offer a friendly smile and a simple “hi”. Just be nice.

Be pure.

As a general rule, keep food and drinks out of the gym. One exception is water. Water bottles are encouraged.

Nothing turns your stomach more than seeing and or smelling the remains of someone’s pre-workout drink lingering in the water fountain or sink.

Here’s a simple rule of thumb: keep calories covert.

Be respectful with your smells.

I get it, BO happens. But don’t cover it up with excessive perfume, body spray, or deo.

Avoid spraying on scents before heading to the gym. Most of us would rather smell your natural odors than the chemical cover-ups that almost always do a less than stellar job.

weight training in gym bodybuilding equipment close up


Don’t be a hog.

Don’t hang out on any machines or piece of equipment doing nothing more than texting or talking.

Most gyms only have 1 or 2 squat racks. If you’re still squatting 30 minutes after you started, you’ve overstayed your welcome. Move on!

Don’t # every workout.

It’s not that you don’t look fabulous.

It’s not that you didn’t just murder your workout.

You’re amazing and strong.

But, please. Just keep the selfies to a minimum.

Don’t be a Chatty Cathy.

Unless you’re certain they’re okay with, don’t go around talking with people.

Some folks have limited time to workout. Let them do what they need to do and if they don’t seem interested in the conversation, take the hint and move on.

Don’t wear earbuds

Or headphones. Unless you’re completely aware of the noises, you make while lifting.

We’ve all heard groans and grunts from fellow lifters that make us cringe. Unless you know you’re keeping the awkward sounds to a bare minimum, avoid the earbuds.

Also, singing along with your playlist is a no-go.

Don’t give unsolicited advice.

There are a lot of Trainer-Wannabees in the gym. Unless you’ve been asked for advice, keep it to yourself.

Even then, unless you’re a certified trainer with significant knowledge and experience, avoid handing out tips. One great coach said that if he can’t answer a person’s question in 1 minute, he tells them to book a session with him. 

Don’t share germs.

Don’t be the sick person who shares his/her germs with everyone else. Keep your germs at home.

Coughing? Stay home.

Vomiting or diarrhea? Stay home.

Fever? Even if someone can’t tell by looking at you that you’re feeling less than top-notch, stay the heck at home!


Don’t ego lift.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m all about lifting heavy.

But if you’re sacrificing the safety and well-being of yourself or others by throwing around weight you can’t handle, nobody wants you at the gym.

Stick with a manageable load and while you’re at it, don’t drop it. If you can’t rack it without creating an earthquake, it’s too heavy for you.

Don’t bad-mouth others.

People are often dealing with issues we know nothing about.

Maybe they had no other clothes to wear to the gym.

Maybe their kid threw up on their good pair of shoes right before they left.

Maybe they’re just learning a new exercise so yeah, they’re gonna go a little light on the weight and maybe look a little awkward. Let it go.

Along the same lines as above, don’t judge trainers.

Some trainers are newbies, and it’s hard not to cringe as you observe the workouts they patch together for their unwitting clients.

However, what about the overweight trainer? A well-respected strength coach tells the story of how a trainer he judged from a distance was fighting a battle with cancer that caused him to swell up, leaving him unable to exercise. He was one of the smartest, most experienced trainers out there…once he got to know him.

It’s a fact of life. There are going to be less than perfect gym members working out alongside you.

We feel your pain. But rather than being annoyed at them for the duration of your workout, save your energy for making sure you’re not someone else’s gym-pain-in-the-butt. 

Author Bio:

Adam Steel is the Chief Editor at Legwork. He is an aspiring personal trainer, sporadic runner, avid gym-goer and is currently training to do his first marathon and a 100-mile sportive.


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