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Mind Your Manners with These Gym Etiquette Rules

July 12, 2021

Today we’re talking all things gym etiquette – and some of those unwritten rules, too. Let’s be real: the gym can be intimidating at times. Especially if you’re just getting started or recently changed gyms.

Sharing space has hardly ever been anyone’s strong suit – which is why we’re covering basic gym rules and do’s and don’ts of good gym behavior. 

Because ultimately, the gym is a shared, social space (sorry, introverts. hate to break it to you). Understanding these guidelines can help you be a better gym member.

Now, you can navigate the gym like a pro with this breakdown on gym etiquette. 


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Standard Gym Rules

While the jury’s still out on dropping those weights, there are some basic gym rules that you 

should follow when you’re sharing a fitness space with others.

DO read your gym’s basic rules. Understanding the official rules for your gym is the best place to start. Sure, there might be other unwritten rules that you should be aware of, but respecting the space and following the rules is an easy way to make sure you can continue to enjoy the space (and dodge fines or expulsion).

DON’T become a roadblock. After more than a year of lockdown, it can be an adjustment to get back to the level of spatial awareness that we once possessed. In your at-home gym, you probably didn’t have to worry about getting in the way. But now that we’re headed back to public spaces, it’s crucial to stay aware of your surroundings and make sure you’re not blocking aisles or machinery while you’re warming up.

DO wipe down your equipment when you’re done using it. We’re all about leaving the world better than we found it, and this rule falls in line with our favorite mantra. Ain’t nobody dig the feel of used, sweaty gym equipment—hard pass. Most gyms will supply wipes, sanitizing spray, and even towels for you to use to wipe down the equipment once you’re ready to move to the next station.

DON’T get too loud. Grunting, pep talks, and groans are all normal when you’re pushing your body to the extreme. Science even shows that verbal expression of effort can help mentally push you to achieve those goals. But that doesn’t mean everyone should be able to hear you over their music. Keep it at a reasonable level to respect others and not become a distraction.

DO put things back when you’re done with them. Dumbbells, free weights, jump ropes – each piece of equipment has its proper place. Be courteous and respectful of others by putting your weights back when you’re done with them.


Unspoken Gym Rules

While those other rules might seem glaringly straightforward, these might not be as obvious. So here are some of those unwritten and unspoken gym rules that help make gym culture more enjoyable for everyone.

DO feel free to make friends. Just don’t make it weird. Staying motivated can be easier when you’ve got an accountability partner, and the gym is one easy place to find that second half. But that doesn’t mean everyone wants to be your friend. Remember that some workout personalities aren’t there to socialize; they just want to work out, smash those goals, then go home.

DON’T crowd others while you’re waiting for gym equipment. We’re talking to you, you lurkers. You know who you are. Remember that social distancing can be a good thing, not only when it comes to pandemic manners. Don’t stand too close to others while they’re using equipment. Respect their personal space and wait your turn patiently. It’s just weightlifting etiquette 101.

DON’T be one of those annoying cell phone users. It’s normal to get calls and texts while you’re at the gym. But if you absolutely must respond to a text or take a call, step away from your machine. Having a loud phone conversation isn’t just distracting – it’s rude. Likewise, don’t hog the squat rack if you’re just going to stand around and scroll through social media.

DON’T crowd the dumbbell rack. Once you grab your dumbbells, step back from the rack and give others room to grab the equipment they need. It can be easy to get hyper-focused and forget this small step – but it’s an important one.

DON’T block mirror space. There’s usually enough room on the mirror wall for everyone to squeeze in. This is another excellent example of how you should always be aware of your physical surroundings. Many people watch themselves in the mirror to make sure they’re using the proper form. Don’t stand in the way and block their view.

DON’T douse yourself in perfume or cologne right before you hit the elliptical. Yes, we realize that you won’t always smell as fresh as a flower when you’re working out, but there are things you can do to combat that. For example, find high-performance gear made of odor-resistant fabric that will keep you dry and stink-free throughout your workout

DON’T give unsolicited advice. No, seriously. Just don’t. It’s not your job to advise gym-goers on proper form or technique. It doesn’t matter how qualified you think you are. You probably don’t know a thing about their fitness goals, where they came from, their experience level, or any injuries. 

The exception to this rule is this: if someone asks you your opinion or for advice, you’re welcome to chime in. But unless you get that go ahead, just mind your beeswax.


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Conclusion: Get the Most Out of Your Workouts with Proper Gym Etiquette

Learning basic workout etiquette and gym manners is an easy way to make sure you AND everyone else get to enjoy their time in the gym. However, while some rules seem pretty straightforward, there are other habits that you might not be as aware of. So now that you understand the rules of the road grab your high-performance activewear and get ready to crush those goals.

Ryan H


Ryan Hoang is a former fitness trainer, fashion entrepreneur, and creative force behind the modern activewear brand Centric. As a fitness enthusiast and apparel industry professional, he always strives to design and create high performance athletic apparel without compromising fashion for function. When he is not busy working on Centric, you will find him at the gym sweating it out or in the kitchen trying out new recipes.