Gym Etiquette

Track | Trail | Locker Room

Uphold rules of club and exercise room

  • Read rules and posted signs
  • Observe posted equipment instructions and warnings

If you would like to use a piece of equipment someone is using

Gym Etiquette

  • Ask if you can "work in between their sets"
    • if they say no, be patient and have compassion for the feeble minded
      • acceptable reasons for denying "working in" include
        • two or more individuals already exercising on equipment
        • a large number of free weights are loaded on equipment and user is nearly finished
    • after each set, allow the other person to use the equipment
      • try to set the apparatus adjustments back where the other person had set them
      • assist with reloading or unloading weight
  • If someone begins exercising on a weight apparatus while you were resting between your sets
    • you should say "I only have X number of sets left on this machine, you may work in with me if you would like"
    • if you were working in between someone else's sets, make the other person is aware someone is already sharing the equipment with you
  • If waiting in line and you leave to use the restroom or get a drink of water
    • tell the person behind you in line you are coming right back so they are aware you are waiting
  • If someone sneaks ahead of you
    • you should say "I just went to go to ___, I believe I was here before you".
  • You cannot claim a piece of equipment by setting a towel or water bottle on or next to it

When you are using equipment and others waiting

  • Allow others to work in between your sets
  • Do not rest on exercise equipment
    • studies suggest recovery is accelerated by light muscular activity such as walking about between sets rather than sitting (See Active Recovery)
  • On cardio equipment, abide by the time limit set by the club (typically 30 minutes).
    • do not wait for someone to ask you to get off
  • Wipe equipment with a towel after each set
    • would you like to be in contact with someone else's sweat?

When you are finished with a piece of equipment

Sled Hack Squat

  • Wipe equipment using disinfectant when available
  • Do not leave your sweaty towel behind for someone else to pick up
  • Put equipment away when you have completed an exercise
    • it is not the attendants or other members' responsibility to put away your equipment
    • put weights in their designated place, not necessarily where someone that was using it before you had left it.
      • if you were the last to use the equipment, you are the one responsible for putting it back where it belongs
      • weight plates
        • remove all weights
          • don't assume everyone would appreciate a pair of plates left on the apparatus
        • storage arranged by weight of plates (eg: 45lb, 35lb, 25lb, 10lb, 5lb, 2.5lb)
        • do not mix plates on the same storage bar
      • dumbbells placed in order on rack, where they were intended to be stored
    • return benches, mats, and other equipment in its designated storage area
    • certain cable attachments may remain on machines if they are commonly used by others

Be aware of exercise area

  • Stay clear of areas that require space at or near a particular station
    • eg: weightlifting platform, cable crossover machine, weight trees, etc.
    • do not crowd other exercisers
  • Do not exercise where others need to walk
    • high traffic paths, area entries, in front of water stations, etc.
  • Do not stand in front of the dumbbell rack
    • since others will need clearance to get and put away their dumbbells
  • Before exercising in front of the mirror, check behind you to see if anyone else is using that mirror space
    • do not stand in front of someone using the mirror behind you
  • Keep your stuff off equipment and areas where people need to walk
    • even if you are exercising right next to it

Avoid making too much noise

Skate Machine

  • Keep in mind an exercise facility is a public place
    • where many participants are trying to concentrate on performing their exercises
  • Avoid excessive chatter
    • particularly in an exercise class
      • wait until after class
    • do not initiate a conversation with someone while they are engaged in a resistance training set or a sprint bout
  • Do not use cell phone
    • turn of ringer
    • some gyms prohibit cell phone use in workout areas
  • Limit grunting, yelling or cursing during exercise
    • habitual or sudden outbursts are seen as rude and egotistical, "look at me!"
    • occasional natural grunting under extremely lifting conditions may be acceptable in some hardcore gyms
  • Do not sing or whistle
    • particularly when you are listening to music on a headset.
  • Avoid dropping weights
  • Use cardio equipment properly
  • Do not bounce balls in the fitness area
    • keep basketballs on the court
  • Do not smack chewing gum or pop bubbles
  • Loud or constant noises can annoy other exercisers

Asking for a spot

Spotting close on Squat

  • Ask for a spot when going heavy on higher risk exercises such as the bench and squat
  • Utilize fitness staff before approaching a member you do not know for a spot
    • do not interrupt a fitness instructor if he is conducting a personal training session or equipment orientation
    • do not interrupt someone while they are performing their set or spotting someone else
  • Limit how frequent you ask others for a spot
  • Communicate to the spotter before your set
    • ask them to spot you in a specific manner if this is important to you
      • by the wrist, on the elbows, on the bar, around the waist
      • far spot (stand by), close spot (ready to assist position), very close spot (ready to assist with contact with bar or body)
      • help with lift-off rack, etc.
    • tell your spotter approximately how many repetitions you plan on completing on your own.
      • this will give your spotter an idea of when they will transfer from a far spot to a close spot
  • Ask for a spot only on the last rep if needed
    • do not expect the spotter to assist you beyond one assisted repetition
      • the purpose of the spotter is not to do the work for you
      • if you can not handle the weight by yourself
        • leave your ego at the door
        • lighten the load to a weight what you can handle
    • rack the weight after your spotter has assisted you with one repetition, if needed
      • even if you did not complete your estimated number of repetitions
    • rather than utilizing forced repetitions to break sticking points, use more effective and sustainable techniques.

Avoid arriving late to class

Group Exercise Etiquette

  • Particularly for a yoga class when participants are finding their inner calmness
  • A noisy late entrance can disrupt the mood

Abstain from telling others they are using the equipment improperly

  • Unless it is your job or someone's life is in danger
  • Certainly feel free to ask to assist anyone that appears to be struggling to figure out how to use an exercise machine
  • If you must, approach with respect and consider beginning by asking how their workout is going, or along those lines.

Wear appropriate apparel

  • Wear workout clothes and athletic shoes in the fitness area
    • do not work out without a shirt and athletic shoes, particularly on exercise equipment

Practice hygiene

  • Avoid offensive body odors
    • bathe regularly and use underarm deodorant
    • release your farts where no one else can smell them
  • Wipe machines off before and after use
  • Wash hands to decrease the spread of germs
    • after using restroom
    • after sneezing or coughing on your hand
    • after workouts
  • Do not smoke anywhere near the facility
    • not even outside near entries
    • utilize patches or do without

Do not bring young children to the gym

  • Unless the facility has child care services
  • A gym is not a playground and can be disruptive to others

If you do not like the choice of music or what is playing on TV

  • Ask others working out if they would mind if you request a change
  • Bring your own headset and portable music player
  • Do not bring your own audio equipment to the gym for others to hear

At water fountain/cooler

  • If you are filling a water bottle
    • allow others behind you to use the water fountain
    • finish filling up your container after they are finished drinking
  • Do not spit or dispose of chewing gum in the water fountain
    • use toilet and trash receptacles

Track Etiquette

  • Walk in inside lanes
  • Pass on outside lanes
  • Travel counter-clockwise if a direction is not designated

Trail Etiquette

Trail Etiquette

  • Stay in designated walking or cycling paths if available.
  • Walk or cycle on the same side of off-trail as you would drive a car on the road allowing room for faster traffic to pass.
    • particularly around blind corners or curves
  • Before turning or changing directions
    • slow down at blind intersections or curve
    • adhere to the right of way
  • Before passing
    • glance behind you for faster approaching traffic preparing to use the same passing lane
    • shout out if passing nearby
      • slower individuals may need a moment to react
      • upcoming traffic may change alter course into your path without notice if they are unaware of your presence.
    • allow traffic in the opposite direction right of way
      • do not pass slower traffic if the opposite lane is being used
  • Groups
    • when walking in a group, allow for plenty of passing space in the opposite lane
      • to accommodate traffic in both directions
        • particularly from behind you where you may not see approaching traffic
      • even if this means walking behind members of your group
  • Walking dog
    • Keep animal leashed on the opposite side of the passing lane
    • Keep a short leash to avoid stringing leash across the trail
  • Do not stand on trail or block traffic

Locker Room Etiquette

Locker Room Etiquette

  • Clean up after yourself
    • locker room attendants are not paid to be your personal maid service
    • put toiletries back where they belong immediately after you have used them so others may use them
    • wipe up water you spilt around sink counter top
    • throw towels in designated bins after use
  • Showers
    • leave shower the way you found it
    • turn off water
    • don't leave behind empty shampoo bottles or extra towels
    • dry off before walking through the locker room
      • water on floors can be hazardous to others
  • Be respectful of other people's belonging and personal space
    • don't monopolize mirror space, hair dryers, or other accessories intended to be available for everyone's use
    • if your belongings are on the locker bench, make space for others who come
    • naked persons always have the right away
  • Cover up with a towel
    • spare your peers from having to witness your body parts flopping or jiggling about.
  • Keep tasteless personal hygiene rituals at home
    • eg: clipping nails or body hair, washing feet in sink, picking at body parts, etc.
  • Do not take cell phone out of case or gym bag
    • turn off ringer before entering the facility
    • many facilities prohibit bringing cell phones into locker facilities since they often have built-in cameras
Portions adapted from: Ford C, DeMontravel J (2001),

21st-Century Etiquette, The Lyons Press, Guilford, CO, 271-272.

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