If Emily Post was alive today (and had she turned out to be a gym rat) it’s a safe bet that she’d be shaking her head in frustration at some of the less etiquette-minded people who frequent the average work-out facility. There are many old-timey manuals out there dictating old-fashioned etiquette rules, like table manners, how to make introductions and such, but as gyms are a more modern-day invention fitness fans have often been left to figure things out as they go. Some of us succeed. Others fail spectacularly.
Etiquette in general is just about having manners and being considerate of the people around you. One common thing that drives regular gym-goers nuts is when someone is perfectly capable of loading the weights onto the bar, but then fails to re-rack them. Breaking this cardinal rule of the gym is likely to earn you anything from a side-eye to a verbal cut-down and beyond. Gym fights happen all the time, not so surprising since there’s so much bad behavior and testosterone a-flowing!
Also, be considerate and take steps to protect yourself and others from unwanted germs by following your gym’s clean-up protocol. Nasty bugs like norovirus and MRSA run rampant in gyms and can survive on equipment and in locker rooms for impressively gross lengths of time. So, even though it seems like a pain, do your part! And for the love of everything holy, do NOT go to the gym if you’re sick!
The gym is a place for newbies and vein-popping enthusiasts alike. Take this quiz so you can learn — or brush up — on the unspoken rules of the gym.
Wear whatever you want to work out, but leave the strongly-scented stuff at home.
We're not going to tell you not to wear jean shorts, but synthetic and polyester clothing has been proven to actually smell worse when exposed to sweat.
Put them earbuds in if you want to be left alone.
While the fun squat contraption might look like a good deal for biceps or something else, let the squatters squat.
Best to use the mirror for simply perfecting your form, but you wouldn't be the first if you stood in front of the mirror flexing.
Feel free to come back to complete your sets, but it's nice to give others a crack.
Nobody needs to ask a stranger about their fitness records. But if you're talking shop with another gym rat, it might be appropriate.
Really, it's only the after that matters — but if you want to make double-sure you don't get the strep that's going around, wipe it down before, too.
No one is going to fault you for a little grunting, but maybe avoid singing out loud. Please.
You don't have to run to the other end of the gym, but a little buffer is courteous.
Sorry, but you can't "claim" a machine. First come, first served.
Seriously, you will look ridiculous when you break your own foot.
This isn't high school; don't reject someone unless they truly make you uncomfortable.
In general, avoid staring slack-jawed at strangers doing Zumba.
If your bottle is huge and takes a ton of time to fill, do let someone in for a drink though.
Again, there's a theme: Wear whatever you want, within most reason.
Remember to give seats and handles a bit of a shine.
Grab the weights when you need them, or at least try to find a time when there's enough weights to go around.
And let the faster swimmer go ahead, if there's a jam.
Nobody wants to prevent you from responding to an emergency, but the middle of the cardio room is not the place for dramatic news.
Unless it's your sibling, you're really not allowed to yell or harass anyone at the gym.
No one is going to be appalled if a salty word is said after a grueling lift, but try to keep it clean.
Unless you're a trainer at the gym getting paid to advise folks, leave your thoughts to yourself.
Healthy bodies come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Do not presume anyone is healthy or unhealthy, or guess anyone's motivation for exercise.
Don't be afraid of being naked. A lot of us are, underneath our clothes.
The group shower is not the place to shave or clip toenails.
This depends a lot on the teacher and the type of class. Some teachers will welcome all comers. Others can be snarky to the late arrivals. Find out your teacher's style in advance. But generally, the more equipment (mat, bar, ball, weights, etc) you have to get out at the class the less you'll want to be late as it's disruptive.