10 Tips for Proper Gym Etiquette

Do you inadvertently offend others at the gym?

Ben Greenfield
5-minute read
Episode #35

#6: Clean Up After Yourself.

[[AdMiddle]You’ve already learned that you need to wipe up your sweat. You also need to be sure to remove hats, towels, sports drinks or any other clutter from equipment that you’re done using. You also need to pick up crumbs, peels, or sauces from any food that you have consumed during your workout (if you are lucky enough to be working out at a gym that even allows you to eat in the workout area, which most gyms do not).

#7: Don’t Monopolize Equipment

If you are using a piece of cardio equipment or a weight machine and you need to briefly go to the restroom, do a very quick burst of cardio, or mix in a set on one other piece of equipment, it is OK to leave a hat, towel, or other sign that you are temporarily reserving that piece of equipment. However, if:

A) someone is obviously waiting to use the equipment


B) you plan on being gone longer than just a couple minutes

then do not reserve or attempt to monopolize it.

You’ll simply need to share and let someone else “work in a set” along with you, which means you’ll also need to wipe down that piece of equipment after each set that you do. In the same manner, if you want to use a piece of equipment that someone appears to be using for an unreasonably long period of time, simply politely ask whether you can share that area with them. If they say no, then trust me, it’s not worth the fight; although you can, if you really want to, approach a personal trainer or gym employee to voice your complaint.

#8: Read the Clothing Rules or Ask

Guys, in most cases, nobody really wants to see your nipples or copious amounts of chest and back hair during the workout. And ladies, unless you are thoroughly confident that nobody at the gym will complain about your butt hanging out of your gym shorts, then wear something that keeps body parts relatively contained. It is very rare that a gym does not post its basic clothing rules, which are typically:

  • wear a shirt

  • wear closed toe shoes

  • don’t wear jeans (they can destroy the vinyl on the equipment)

  •  if you have a baby, make sure they have an appropriate water-proof diaper in the pool.

In most cases, it’s best to err on the safe side and not wear clothing that you suspect may offend or nauseate others.

#9: Use Sign-Up Forms Properly

If you have reserved a treadmill or bicycle, or if you have signed up for a class, like yoga or Pilates, then cross out your name from the sign-in list if you decide not to use the equipment or attend the class. If a class is full and you want to attend, it’s OK to just drop in and ask the instructor, since there are often “no-shows.”

#10: Don’t Try To Solve Conflicts Yourself

If any of these rules that I’ve mentioned appear to be being broken, or you have a bone to pick with another gym goer, then do not attempt to resolve the conflict yourself. In almost every case, the appropriate step to take is to locate a personal trainer or gym employee and use their services to mediate the situation. People can get aggressive, grumpy, and downright mean when they’re exercising, and the last thing you need at the gym is a bloody nose. A bloody nose is not what those towels are for.

If you have your own question about gym etiquette, tips that weren’t included here, or even just a funny story from the gym, why not share it on the Get-Fit Guy Facebook page? Click here to do it now.

Gym image courtesy of Shutterstock


All content here is for informational purposes only. This content does not replace the professional judgment of your own health provider. Please consult a licensed health professional for all individual questions and issues.

About the Author

Ben Greenfield

Ben Greenfield received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from University of Idaho in sports science and exercise physiology; personal training and strength and conditioning certifications from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA); a sports nutrition certification from the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN), an advanced bicycle fitting certification from Serotta. He has over 11 years’ experience in coaching professional, collegiate, and recreational athletes from all sports, and as helped hundreds of clients achieve weight loss and fitness success.