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Gym Etiquette (Work On Those New Year Resolutions With Courtesy!)

With the start of the new year, gyms suddenly become more crowded as people join wellness centers and gyms to put action into their resolutions.   I can guarantee the pool at my local wellness center is going to be packed with added newbies.  So, here are one reader’s gym etiquette suggestions…

I was just wondering if you could post some rules about gym etiquette? There seems to be a total lack of knowledge in my experience!

1) Please dress appropriately. I know that gym clothes tend to be fairly skimpy, and skin tight, but please wear appropriate underwear, and make sure that nothing is hanging out.

2) Please bring a small hand towel to mop the sweat from your hands/face so that it doesn’t drip all over the equipment!

3) However, please don’t use that towel to wipe down the equipment after you’ve finished. Most gyms provide hand wipes for this, but paper towels are also acceptable.

4) Take your time using a machine if you need to, even if there are people waiting! But please vacate a machine if you’re not using it to exercise, but to rest, or check your phone. It’s very frustrating for people waiting.

5) Please don’t take too long in the shower, especially at busy times of day. There are always people waiting for a changing room.

6) Please remove weights from a machine when you are finished; the next person may not be able to lift them! And please put them back in the right place.

7) It’s fine to ask other people for help using a piece of equipment, but wait until they’re not busy working out. And always be prepared to take “no” as an answer.

8) Don’t drop any equipment, particularly weights. Not only does this damage the equipment for everyone, but is also extremely dangerous.

This is a fairly basic list, but I have seen so many people break at least one of these, I felt the need to create a PSA. Thank you 10-12-17

{ 72 comments… add one }
  • Anonymous January 2, 2018, 6:59 am

    9. A corollary to #7; don’t give other people unsolicited advice on how to use a machine or do a specific exercise.

    10. In a class that uses mats (like, say, yoga), it’s polite to stagger your mats (think like a checkerboard pattern), so that you’re not directly in front of anyone. This makes it easier for people further back, to see the mirror and the teacher.

    11. In the swimming pool, most gyms have rules about everyone swimming in the same direction, when there are more than two people in a lane (if there are only two, you can split it down the middle). Also, swim in the lane that matches your swimming speed. Nobody likes to be bumped into by a fast swimmer in the slow lane, or having to stop swimming/slow down significantly to avoid bumping into a slow swimmer in the fast lane.

    12. If you live in a snowy climate, be mindful of the areas where you can and can’t wear boots in the gym, so as to avoid tracking melted snow, slush, and dirt around the gym. This applies especially in the studio, where people might be barefoot.

    13. If the gym is for adults, don’t bring your kids. Use the gym’s childcare if there is one, or leave them at home.

    14. Don’t go to a group class and expect a customized workout experience, as if you were with a personal trainer. Instructors generally provide modifications on exercises for different ability levels, but don’t storm out in a huff because you can’t do the advanced version, after you’ve been shown the beginner and intermediate version. Also, if you find the class challenging, that’s not a bad thing–it’s meant to be challenging. It’ll get easier as you get stronger.

    15. However, please tell your instructor, BEFORE the class starts, if you have an injury that might prevent you from doing certain things, or require further modifications.

    16. If the gym isn’t for you, it’s perfectly okay to work out at home. There are tons of free exercise videos on YouTube.

    • Calli Arcale January 2, 2018, 12:32 pm

      “11. In the swimming pool, most gyms have rules about everyone swimming in the same direction, when there are more than two people in a lane (if there are only two, you can split it down the middle). Also, swim in the lane that matches your swimming speed. Nobody likes to be bumped into by a fast swimmer in the slow lane, or having to stop swimming/slow down significantly to avoid bumping into a slow swimmer in the fast lane.”

      Where I’ve worked out, if there’s more than one person in a lane, the rule is usually that the lane is split down the middle and you keep right at all times — so you go down the right, turn, and go back on the other side, and if it’s too crowded, you don’t do flip turns (to avoid head-on collisions from following too close).

    • Miss B January 2, 2018, 3:15 pm

      Especially don’t bring your kids and let them “play” on the equipment.

    • Kat January 3, 2018, 6:49 am

      Re number 9, it’s why my mom had to quit Curves. When we signed up together, she had with her a doctor’s note that specified that due to back pain she couldn’t do certain exercises. With the manager’s help, they set up a couple of alternate exercises for her to do on those particular machines. Every time she came in, some well-meaning stranger went to tattle to the staff that she was using those machines wrong. The staff (seems they had a high turnover) would stop my mom and she’d have to explain everything and they’d go look up her doctor’s note and the manager’s notes and then leave her to it. (I guess they had to see the notes for liability issues… if they knowingly let someone use the machines wrong and they got hurt, it could go badly.) After about 2 months of interrupted workouts because no one would leave her alone, she quit.

      • EchoGirl January 3, 2018, 5:46 pm

        My dad came very close to a serious injury because he was straining to lift a heavy weight bar (which, the strain is kind of the point) and someone tried to “help” him by grabbing it without asking, and from one side which is exactly the wrong way to do it (with that kind of weight, it’s critical that things stay balanced, because you’re using your core muscles to support the weight as much as your arms. An imbalance shifts the strain to one side, and those side muscles aren’t as able to support weight). I don’t know if it’s because he’s fat or if the guy was just a buttinsky in general, but verbal interference is bad enough; physical interference is self-gratification (“I helped that fat man not get hurt!”) at the possible expense of the person you’re supposedly helping.

  • Katniss January 2, 2018, 7:14 am

    And keep grunting and other loud noises to a minimum. We’re all aware of course that the gym will involve heavy breathing and some noises in reaction to bodily stress. But we also know that men doing huge caveman grunts every time they lift a weight are showing off and it isn’t appreciated by anyone. Also don’t use the gym as a place to hit on people.

    • saucygirl January 2, 2018, 9:15 am

      yes! when i first started working out it was at an all girls gym. then i switched gyms and could’t believe how noisy the guys were! very annoying

    • Yet Another Laura January 2, 2018, 5:12 pm

      So true! My gym has a list of rules for the weights area and one of them is “No grunting or swearing”.

    • Melissa January 3, 2018, 10:51 am

      Oh goodness, yes. And not just men! A woman in my gym yesterday was “grunting” so loudly, I could hear her over my headphones. It sounded…..like a noise that’s not meant for public (insert wide-eyed emoji here). I can understand noises here and there, in reaction to bodily stress, as Katniss put it. However, when you are grunting from start to finish, perhaps you need to take it down a notch?

    • Anonymous January 3, 2018, 2:02 pm

      Also, it’s dangerous. If you (general you) are grunting as if you’re in labour, you’re probably lifting too much weight, and should take it down a bit to avoid risking injury.

    • kingsrings January 3, 2018, 3:30 pm

      Grunters need to steer clear of Planet Fitness. They have a strong policy against grunting at their gyms and will kick out members who don’t comply.

  • Lerah99 January 2, 2018, 8:25 am

    1) Don’t avoid the gym because you’re afraid people will be judging you. In general, people are far to focused on their own workout to give you any thought. As a very fat woman (5’4″ 386lbs at my heaviest) most people never say boo to me. The only ones who do, gym employees & group exercise instructors, have been unfailingly supportive and encouraging.

    2) The weight benches are not for sitting and checking your phone.

    3) Keep focused on your own improvement. Stop measuring yourself by how much that guy can lift or how fast that lady can run. The only person you are actually competing with is yourself.

    • Heather January 2, 2018, 3:29 pm

      These are the only 3 that count IMO.

  • JoW January 2, 2018, 8:32 am

    The showers and toilet stalls are not changing rooms. Change in a designated changing room or near a locker. Do not change your clothing in a toilet or shower stall when there is a waiting line for that space. This goes double for the handicapped toilet stall and the handicapped shower.

    There are naked people in the locker room. Phones have cameras. Leave your phone in your purse or pocket while you are in the locker room. You can check your mail out in the lobby.

    • kingsrings January 2, 2018, 4:30 pm

      Thank you!! I can’t stand it when I have to go to the bathroom and I have to wait because someone is using the bathroom stall as a changing area. Especially when I’m in a hurry to get to a class. Either use a designated changing stall or if there isn’t one, then change elsewhere or in a corner.

      • Kiki January 3, 2018, 1:48 pm

        There is one woman at our local gym that consistently changes in the dry heat room/sauna. She always seems to go in there just before I’m ready to go in and sit for a minute. I guess she thinks it’s her personal changing area.

    • Kat January 3, 2018, 9:37 pm

      Corollary: almost no one is going to care that you are naked in the changing area, so there’s no need to go to extremes to try and hide it anyway. You don’t need to use the toilet stall because no one is looking.

      Or just change under your towel if it bothers you.

  • Dominic January 2, 2018, 9:43 am

    * Please do not carry on long conversations in a tone of voice that carries while using adjacent treadmills, stationary bikes, etc. This can be very distracting to others. If you want to chat, go to Starbucks and get a table. Many times I’ve found a treadmill away from chatty pairs only to have two people hop on machines next to me and talk to each other nonstop so loudly I can still hear it while I’m listening to music with headphones.

    * Please keep your music volume down in the sauna, or better yet, leave your music/phone and loud conversations outside the sauna. People go in there to relax, quietly, and sweat.

    • Kate January 5, 2018, 11:46 pm

      Yes! I can’t explain why overhearing loud conversations on the treadmill annoys me so much, but it’s a huge pet peeve.

  • kingsrings January 2, 2018, 10:20 am

    Do not do circuit training on machines unless there’s absolutely nobody else around. It’s not polite to use multiple machines at one time when there’s other people around who want to use them, too.

    Nudity is expected in the locker room, but it’s not a nudist resort, either. Only be nude as necessary, such as in getting in and out of the shower or your clothing. Do not traipse around the locker room naked. Wear a towel. Have modesty.

    Don’t spit or blow your nose in the shower. Other people use that shower, so that’s really disgusting. Yes, I have heard people doing that in there.

    If someone is using a lane in the pool to exercise in, don’t go into their lane to use it without asking first if that’s okay. They were there first.

    • Gizmo January 3, 2018, 6:51 am

      I am always so annoyed by circuit training… Taking up multiple machines to yourself all at once!

      • Karen January 3, 2018, 5:37 pm

        The only caveat I would offer is that many gyms have designated circuit areas. IMO, it’s just as rude to do sets in on machines set aside for circuit trainers, as it is to do circuit training in an area that is meant to be general-use.

        I like circuit training, it’s an easy way to get in a reasonable workout in a reasonable time period. But my last gym allowed people to just camp out on the circuit machines, contrary to all the signage in the area. Very disappointing.

    • Melissa January 3, 2018, 10:53 am

      You have just made me very glad I’ve never needed to use the shower at my gym! Ewwwwwww!

      • Kat January 3, 2018, 9:41 pm

        I stopped going to the free adult lap swim at my local park district because the teenage girls (the pool was in a high school that shared the park grounds) left the locker room *disgusting.* The day I found used tampons on the shower floors was my last. *gag*

    • NostalgicGal January 3, 2018, 12:52 pm

      You can circuit train if there’s more than one of you doing approximately the same settings and a few stations apart at the start if you’re doing roughly the same reps as well. I’ve seen cooperation on such that has actually worked well. But yes, if it’s full up, do your circuit another time and just take piece by piece. In that case I add a few reps and step off for proper cool downs after each bit.

    • ErindV January 3, 2018, 3:31 pm

      Honestly, I find most of these a little over the top, and I say that as a long time gym goer who dreads January at the gym!
      I’m not sure how busy your gym is, but unless you’re going at 2am there is always somebody around! The proper way to handle circuit training is to politely ask somebody if you can work in, ie. use the same machines as they are using in their circuit, taking turns so you aren’t on the same machine at the same time.

      “Only be nude as necessary.” “Have modesty.” I think you’ll find these are very subjective requirements. Short of a hygiene concern such as somebody rubbing their naked parts all over locker room equipment, who cares? One of the most positive parts of my gym going experience was becoming really comfortable with my body. The realization that by and large nobody cares what your body looks like in the locker room is pretty liberating.

      ‘Don’t spit or blow nose in the shower.” I can’t say I would care much so long as it’s been washed down the drain. As somebody pointed out in a different comment, women who are on their cycle are bound to rinse off some blood in the shower. If you can accept that (which I really hope you do, seeing as the alternative is menstruating women not being allowed to shower at the gym), I don’t see why some spit that is immediately washed down the drain should bother.

      • kingsrings January 3, 2018, 6:51 pm

        You really want to stand in a shower where someone’s saliva, mucus, and blood was spilled? That is disgusting and dangerous. Water washing it down the drain doesn’t sanitize the area, only cleanser could do that. Asking people to be hygienic in places that others use isn’t wrong at all. And about the nudity, while there is nothing at all wrong about anyone’s body no matter what the size, it’s not wrong to not want to have anyone’s nude bodies and private parts in your face like that. Simply cover with a towel while you’re moving about the locker room.

        • Lindsay January 4, 2018, 1:42 pm

          Every single shower you have ever been in has has some saliva, mucus, blood, semen, urine, sweat, and dead skin cells in it. Hopefully not feces. “Being hygienic in the shower” realistically means them rinsing all of the above into the drain and removing gobs of hair and putting them in the trash. It is not the gym patrons’ job to sanitize any areas, only to use reasonable bodily functions and not wipe boogers on walls or be excessively gross.

          If you are deeply concerned about normal shower functions, you should talk to your gym about how often they clean the shower facilities and what they use.

      • Redblues January 11, 2018, 8:29 am

        I agree. I don’t understand people who are uncomfortable with nudity in the women’s locker room. What were people expecting to find? I walk around naked without a thought. I’m not looking at anyone else and doubt anyone is looking at me. I can’t see anyway, and I presume other people have equally bad vision. Like you, I enjoy feeling relaxed about it. I am not usually relaxed about my body except at the gym. Oddly, it seems to be younger women who are more uptight about it.

    • Rebecca January 6, 2018, 1:53 am

      I disagree about asking someone if it’s ok to swim in “their” lane. It’s not their lane. The pool is for everyone’s use. Nice if you can get a lane to yourself, but it’s with the understanding that it might become a little more crowded when more people arrive. What if they ask and you say no? And there are no other empty lanes? Then they are supposed to stay out of the pool? Around here, lanes are designated slow, medium, and fast, and you pick the lane based on your swimming ability (or inclination that day) and you keep right except to pass. And if you are constantly being passed, you are expected to move into a slower lane. Up one side, down the other, keeping right. Anyone can hop in at any time and if you suddenly find “your” lane too crowded you can move into the next one over. I switch lanes all the time depending on the number of people coming and going and the speed of everyone else compared to mine. The only place I have ever heard of anyone being able to claim an entire section of the pool as “theirs” is here in e-hell, so perhaps it’s regional but it doesn’t make sense to me, and would go over like a lead balloon here.

  • Anonymous January 2, 2018, 10:35 am

    Oh yeah, about the “swim in the right direction” rule, most gyms with running tracks (like our YMCA) also have a similar rule for the track. I think it’s clockwise on even-numbered days, counterclockwise on odds, walkers on the inside of the track, and runners on the outside. I’d say that following the rules on the track is even more important than in the pool, because bumping into someone in the pool is usually just annoying, but on the track, moving at a running speed, and possibly knocking someone to the hard ground, could really hurt them.

  • staceyizme January 2, 2018, 10:49 am

    I hate lists of rules. Not because they aren’t needed but because they aren’t going to do any good where the problem exists. Who is going to read this list and go “oh! I must remember not to use my dirty towel to wipe the equipment down” or “I really should stop being quite so vocal when I do the heavier lifts!”? Nobody. If you go to a gym where there are problem behaviors that need to be addressed, the proper place to take up that concern is with the local management, who are in a reasonable position to actually do something about it. These kinds of lists are like the open letters that people write to their spouses or to their bosses in order to explain behaviors to which they object (but apparently either don’t communicate effectively about or continue to tolerate). Long story short, address your concerns directly with the management of the places with which you do business. It’s their job to monitor the environment and to correct various aspects of it as needed. Now, if you actually run into people doing these behaviors this season and they won’t respond to reasonable efforts by management or their peers to modify these objectionable behaviors, that is a specific etiquette issue requiring some support specific to that situation.

  • DGS January 2, 2018, 10:56 am

    Which reminds me of a funny story…I take a particular somewhat trendy and very intense group exercise class, and there is a gentleman in that class whom I see fairly consistently. He is very chipper, friendly and warm and unfailingly encouraging of newer class members (the class is very challenging, but positively addicting once one masters the initial learning curve), and he is generally very pleasant to be around, with one caveat…During the treadmill portion of the class, he likes to shout out encouragement to himself, “You can do this, Bob, you are doing great”, “Bobby, go, go, Bobby, you can do this,” “push, Bobby, push”! I don’t mind it, and I do find it kind of comical, but he does get a fair amount of looks. I am surprised that one of the instructors has not said anything to him, although they are quite young and may be still working on their polite spine.

    • Melissa January 3, 2018, 10:57 am

      That. Is. Hilarious. I do that inside my head, cheer myself on or push myself etc., but not out loud. I’m pretty sure I’d find it comical too if it happened in my gym but I can see how it would be pretty annoying to some people!

      • Kate January 5, 2018, 11:50 pm

        I do this in my head too! I’m glad nobody can hear my internal monologue at the gym as it’s entirely “10 to go, come on, nearly halfway, five left, only three more, come on, last two, you can do it OH YAY IT’S FINISHED!”

    • staceyizme January 3, 2018, 1:02 pm

      Thank you for the laugh! (And I agree with you, this one probably falls under “annoying, but not sufficiently troublesome to address, yet…)

    • NostalgicGal January 3, 2018, 1:05 pm

      I have had a lot of physical therapy and sometimes the student being trained is tailing my therapist (I don’t mind most of the time for anything medical about a student learning as long as there’s proper supervision) and they are telling the student quietly about the encouragement factor, that a few words in the right place CAN get that much more from the person doing the whatever… and the student can see indeed, the difference in output or getting ownership and full putting out through all the reps with words at the right time (yes I sometimes need those words just like anyone else)

    • kingsrings January 3, 2018, 1:44 pm

      LOL! I had a guy like that once in a cardio kickboxing class. Throughout the class he would chant or sing little encouraging phrases. It really didn’t make much of a difference noise-wise with the music and our instructor talking throughout, so we were amused by it. Our instructor called him our class cheerleader.

    • Lerah99 January 4, 2018, 2:50 pm

      I found myself mouthing “Keep going, keep going, keep going” last night during kick boxing. LOL!
      I wasn’t making any noise, but I was a little surprised when I realized that in my exhaustion my lips were actually forming the words.

  • Jared Bascomb January 2, 2018, 11:12 am

    I would put a caveat on #4. Some people wait/rest far too long between sets, even if they’re not playing with their electronic devices. Resting too long between sets not only decreases the effectiveness of the exercises, it also means that other people are waiting longer to use the machine. I’ve actually done three sets while resting ~30 seconds in between and the person on the machine I’m waiting for is *still* resting!

    • Rebecca January 6, 2018, 2:30 am

      Around here it’s considered perfectly acceptable to ask, “Can I work in?” So that person does a set, and rests while you do a set, and then they go back and do their next set while you rest, etc. Or do a set on another piece of equipment. Hogging one piece of equipment for all your sets is not considered OK.

      That being said, if you (general you) are a middle aged male, and the person working in their sets with you is a young female (or any gender/age combo really, but I am speaking from experience as the young female in this scenario), it’s probably a little creepy to make comments like, “Wow, you and I are really building a rhythm here!” You may find it a great opportunity for sexual innuendo, but the other person is just trying to get in some sets with the weights and it is not a sign of interest in you.

  • JD January 2, 2018, 12:26 pm

    I don’t use a gym, but I can see how these rules should really be followed, and how aggravating it would be when they aren’t.

  • A Person January 2, 2018, 2:27 pm

    The busiest time of the day is not the time to take forever deep conditioning your long hair in the shower.


    Ladies, please rinse your blood down the shower drain if you’re having your period.* It’s not fun to walk in on a shower that looks like a murder scene.

    Showers are NOT the place to dump used tampons or applicators.

    *I buy cheap plastic flip flops to wear in gym showers for this reason. I really don’t want HIV or Hepatitis getting into my body through my dry, cracked winter feet.

    • NostalgicGal January 3, 2018, 1:22 pm

      I also take industrial ‘jock itch’ spray and use it liberally on my feet, shower clogs, etc, after being in a public shower. It helps prevent issues. I also give myself a lovely pedicure before going to a place where I will have to use a public shower room and after I get home, to deal with dry cracked foot skin and my toenails. Plus a few days of spray after I get home. My heels are prone to extensive callousing and developing cracks that will rip and bleed if not tended with drastic measures

    • kingsrings January 3, 2018, 1:48 pm

      This is why I never used the showers at the gym, and if I ever did, I would always wear flip-flops. It’s unbelievable how disgusting people will be in the showers and not care at all. Having to listen to a regular gym member constantly hack up and blow her nose in the shower really made me leery of them. Fortunately, she always used the same shower, so I knew to avoid that one and warn others.

    • Rebecca January 6, 2018, 1:58 am

      Yeah I have long hair that requires deep conditioning after a swim. I try not to go during busy times, or if people are waiting I do it later.

      Speaking of showers, I don’t find it OK while people are waiting (at pools) when mothers come along with 4 very small children and plonk each one under a shower. Followed by each one just basking in the hot water but not actively washing until the mother comes around to each one to shampoo their hair. Sorry families with small kids, do this under one shower so the rest of us can get in and actually wash our hair and get going.

  • Angela January 2, 2018, 3:39 pm

    My suggestion is about fragrance. Keep perfumes, colognes and the like to a minimum if you have to wear them at all. A hot, sweaty atmosphere seems to amplify fragrances, and unlike most public areas you can’t just go on your way if someone overdid the body spray that morning.

    • staceyizme January 3, 2018, 1:05 pm

      I’m honestly surprised that most gyms haven’t gone “fragrance free” in the workout areas, at least. You’re breathing quite deeply at times and the “fume” part of “perfume” can be too much! Men are as guilty as women of bathing in their favorite fragrance, but this would be the wrong place to be so liberal in applying it, in my view.

  • Chooseanothername January 2, 2018, 4:46 pm

    Don’t drop the weights. There is nothing more annoying when you are in a yoga class and all of a sudden, the entire building shakes and you hear a big boom.

    Cool it with the selfies. No one cares.

  • sunnydi84 January 2, 2018, 5:01 pm

    Amen to all of these! My biggest pet peeve is people who sit on a machine and check their phones! I’m not talking for a 30 second rest period. I’m talking 3-5 min! Go sit in the lobby or stand up! There are others waiting to use the machines!
    17. No one wants to hear your phone conversation! You aren’t that important! I can’t tell you the number of times I can overhear someone’s conversation when I have music/headphones on! Personally, nothing is really that important that it can’t wait til after your workout, is it? If it is that important, realize that no one else cares to hear it. So, please take your call off the gym floor or outside.
    Your fellow gym rats thank you!

    • Jared Bascomb January 3, 2018, 1:36 pm

      Exactly. What is so important that you have to have your phone with you at all times, even when exercising? Unless you’re a docor on call or have a seriously ill loved one who may take a turn for the worse, leave the phone in your locker!

      • NostalgicGal January 4, 2018, 12:41 am

        There’s a joke circulating about a cellphone ringing in the locker room, and a guy picks it off the bench and answers it. It’s on loud and a woman is calling about a nice coat she wants, it’s on sale, he says sure. Then this fancy car, he says yes, make sure it has all the options. Then the lakefront property they were looking at came on the market. Oh he’s delighted too, go ahead and bid. Love yous, hangs up, and puts the phone down. Then the guy says, “Does anyone know who that phone belongs to?”

        Don’t be a phone crude, you can be separated from your precious for an hour or so and survive.

  • Semperviren January 2, 2018, 5:27 pm

    – There is no such thing as “your spot” in an open class. If you’re picky about where you stand, get there early so you can be where you want.

    – Don’t show up 10 minutes late to a popular class and wedge yourself in, forcing others to move.

    • Shalamar January 9, 2018, 12:00 pm

      Oh my goodness, THIS. My husband and I attend a fitness class every week; we’ve been doing it for years. Another regular got there a little late last week, stopped dead when she saw us, and started glaring. “YOUR STUFF IS WHERE I ALWAYS PUT MY STUFF.” We said blandly “Oh? Guess you’ll have to find another spot, then.” Hoo boy, she did not like that.

  • Lady Phoenix January 2, 2018, 7:50 pm

    If you really want to avoid the crowds, consider postpoining your gym membership to either February or March. The number of people will drastically go down as general willpower or interest in going to the gym will decrease.

    Do not stare at the other gum goers. If they are using a gym equipment you want to use, then walk away. It can be very unnerving having someone either standing or sitting right in front of you/right behind you.

    • EchoGirl January 3, 2018, 5:56 pm

      This is why I’m no longer comfortable in gyms. I used to work out in gyms when I was 12-13 (allowed with parental supervision) and I was always the youngest one there. I was already self-conscious about my body because I was in puberty and everything was constantly changing. Having people stop and stare at me (even if just because they were surprised by how young I was), especially in my gym clothes and sweaty and red-faced, made me so uncomfortable I couldn’t take it anymore.

  • pickles January 2, 2018, 7:54 pm

    One rule left off the list–Don’t be overly critical of the newbies. They are stepping outside their comfort zone and deserve sympathy and support. Being an existing gym member may make you more aware of the lapses of those unfamiliar with the environment but it also gives you an excellent opportunity to show grace and courtesy.

  • Cicero January 2, 2018, 9:38 pm

    * I know it’s a dressing room but do you have to walk around, bend over, do your hair, do your makeup, bend over, etc etc, all while you are nekkid?
    * and please don’t hog the benches. There aren’t that many, and if we all consolidate our stuff, there will be room for everyone.

    • Katniss January 3, 2018, 7:24 am

      Most of the other rules mentioned are because they inconvenience or disturb fellow gym goers, but I’m having trouble seeing how nudity in a locker room should be disturbing to others.

      • o_gal January 7, 2018, 11:46 am

        Yeah, nudity happens in locker rooms. People will walk around naked. People will bend over when naked, usually to pick things up off the floor. If they are more comfortable doing their hair and makeup when naked, that’s their thing (personally, I’d rather do it when dressed, just because I don’t want to mess up my hair or get makeup on my clothes when I put them, but I don’t care if you want to do it the other way.) Try not to look at them, if possible. They are usually not doing it to be an exhibitionist. Except for that lady who was the subject of an epic e-Hell thread.

  • Marno January 3, 2018, 12:08 am

    Seconding the comment that the gym is for everyone who is kind and uses it properly! I am gloriously fat and worried about joining. I feel so welcome and happy at my gym. Most people either ignore me (and everyone else) or else are friendly and helpful. If you look like you are open to to contact (eye contact, smile) and you are seen to be keen to do things as well as you can (cleaning up after yourself, using equipment and spaces fairly & efficiently), people are generally quite friendly. It has been the opposite of judgment and intimidation. Smiles, waves, compliments even. And I say this as somebody who uses all the areas of the gym, from the cardio areas, the stretching/warm up spaces, circuit training, but most especially the “co-ed” weight room which can be quite heavily weighted towards the muscley dudes (pun intended). We’re (mostly) all just here to get along.

    • Melissa January 3, 2018, 11:04 am

      Thank you so much for sharing that, and I hope it will inspire others who may have worries about joining a gym. Most people are just there to get their own workout done and aren’t really paying all that much attention to anyone else. And those who do pay attention to others are usually doing so in a positive way, making friendships, helping each other, etc. And, as you have found, non-muscley dudes and dudettes are generally very welcome in the big scary weight area that some of us used to avoid because we felt too intimidated!

  • Kirsten January 3, 2018, 1:21 pm

    In the pool, if people are constantly touching your toes, or are right behind you at every end, or you are constantly being overtaken, move to a slower lane. If there isn’t one, let the faster people go first when you get to the end. If you are constantly overtaking everyone in the lane, move to a faster lane. If you are the sort of person who likes to swim a very splashy poor front crawl, overtaking every woman you can and then exhausting yourself and pulling in and slowing down right in front of them, get in the sea.

    Swimming trunks for men – long and wide or short and tight, but never short and wide. The people behind you do not want to see your bawbag.

    If you’re going to hang around at the lane ends for ages, chatting and getting in the way of people swimming who need to turn, get out of the lanes.

    • Rebecca January 6, 2018, 2:08 am

      We have a pool here with a yellow painted area at the ends you are supposed to stay clear of so people can turn. If you want to rest you have to go off to the side. Works well, except when it is super busy there is no room to pull over and rest. And I find I do have to rest since the pool is 137.5 metres (150 yards).

  • Library Diva January 3, 2018, 2:09 pm

    Don’t be a creeper! Don’t take the cardio machine right behind someone else when there’s a whole row of them available, don’t plop down opposite the stretching area to watch people, etc. Especially if you are a man. Enough women have been chased away from gyms for this kind of behavior that it won’t be perceived well, regardless of how you mean it.

    As a corollary to the first rule, don’t come in street clothes either. No, you don’t have to invest in $100 Lululemon yoga pants, but don’t show up in jeans and a flannel shirt.

    If you’re swimming or showering, do your best not to drip water all over everywhere.

    Less of an etiquette rule than a safety rule: the gym will come to feel like a second home to you, full of friendly people that you can trust. Unfortunately, there are those that take advantage of that welcoming atmosphere. Stash your valuables in your locked car, and invest in a lock for everything else, or take advantage of locking units the gym has available. Report any incidents to gym staff.

    Don’t hesitate to give encouragement to others if you’re moved to do so, and remain positive about your own progress. Any progress is good!

  • Cheryl January 3, 2018, 6:36 pm

    In one gym I joined, the owner kept the temperature uncomfortably high all year round because she was cold all of the time (please note she had another job so she was not present 90% of the time). I lived in a rural area then and the only other gym option did not have safe equipment by and large (think a stationary bike that wobbled constantly), so I bought a small fan and set it up near one of the bikes which was really the only equipment I could use due to injuries and medical conditions. People would use it in other areas of the gym when I wasn’t there ( went every day about 4 pm). It had my name on it and I put a note up saying if you use it, put it back. No one ever did and it ended up broken besides. The only other option would have been to take it home with me every day, but the way the bike and where I put it were aligned, it was very specific to get it where it would blow on me and took a bit of adjusting. At first no one bothered it, I would guess it was the last 3-4 months I was there that I started running into problems. One other problem I had is often I would be the only person in the gym, so I would put the radio on music I liked or bring a tape with me (no MP3 player). in the last couple of months, two guys would come in while I was there and without asking, change the station or pop in their own tape of some heavy metal instrumental stuff so they could lift weights and grunt and talk over it. Back then my polite spine needed a bit more steel.

  • sweetonsno January 4, 2018, 10:55 am

    Assume that other people are there to work out, not socialize with you. Do not try to strike up a conversation with another person while they are in the middle of their workout, no matter how cute they are. This is especially important when they are in the middle of a set or rep.

    That said, most people will not be offended if you ask them for tips and tricks. If someone appears to have similar goals to yours (or have successfully achieved one of your goals), and you want to ask for tips, approach them somewhere off the floor. Be careful about referencing specific body parts, particularly with people of the opposite gender. (Even when talking to someone of the same gender, it’s probably better to open with delts than with glutes.)

    Don’t use the squat rack or cable machine for chin-ups during a high-volume time if there are actual chin-up bars available. Don’t do push-ups, crunches, or any other kind of floor work in a place that blocks access to equipment. Basically, people who want to use equipment for its intended purpose have priority.

    Don’t scream, no matter how exhilarating you find spin class.

    Practice good hygiene: wear clean clothes, shower, brush your teeth, and use deodorant/antiperspirant, especially if you eat strongly-flavored food.

  • Susan January 4, 2018, 11:02 am

    I use an app on my phone to track my workout. So you are going to see me looking at it between every set. I would say about half the folks in the weight room do the same.

    • Jared Bascomb January 5, 2018, 6:19 pm

      People like you I don’t mind. You’re using your phone for a brief amount of time, not scrolling through your emails and texting back for minutes on end.

  • Miss-E January 4, 2018, 11:27 am

    I have to say, all these comments about nudity and clothing really bug me. What someone else wears, or how long they are naked do not affect you whatsoever. Unless that person is standing standing in your personal space or grinding up on you, it really isn’t your concern. If nudity or jeans upset you all you have to do is look down at the floor and that unpleasant sight is gone. Comments like that are why I don’t like to go to the gym, because no matter what there is always someone watching and judging you. Mind your business and look away

  • Shalamar January 9, 2018, 10:31 am

    I’d also like to add that if you’re on a machine that has a built-in TV, keep your comments about the show you’re watching to yourself. I was once beside a guy who was watching a hockey game, and he kept suddenly screaming “NOOOOOOO!”, scaring the hell out of me.

  • Paige February 15, 2018, 2:58 pm

    I would like to say that 8 is pretty b.s.-ish. Weights are strong and made to be dropped and used under great duress. It only becomes dangerous if you simply have no idea what you are doing. Most people say don’t drop them because they find some kind of intimidation in it. This is a HUGE pet peeve for me and find gyms that preach no dropping weights and have “lunk alarms” are the most judgmental of all gyms. The gym is not supposed to be a delicate, quiet place where people go to meditate and get things done quietly and in the corner. Also, wear whatever the heck you want to the gym as long as none of your bits are hanging out, who cares?!

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