Being a newcomer to the gym can be a little daunting. There’s machines, equipment, and people who look like they know what they’re doing everywhere you look, and you may feel awkward at first trying to figure out what the common etiquette is around using machines and weights. We’ve compiled a list of general gym best practices to help you and those around you feel comfortable as you acclimate to the gym life. Remember, even if you’re new to the gym and feeling uncertain, you have a right to be there. Everyone starts somewhere, and even the strongest person in the gym was once in your shoes. 

  • Be Polite: Being polite in the gym includes respecting other people’s personal space and helps to avoid distracting anyone who may be doing a challenging lift. Avoid making phone calls while on the gym floor and don’t play loud music outside of your headphones. This also applies to conversation within the gym. You can say hello but don’t bother people if they are intensely focused on a workout.
  • Be Respectful: Respect other people’s work out personal bubbles and be aware of your surroundings. While it is okay to say hi and socialize a bit if you recognize someone, remember to never make comments about someone’s workout, body, or give workout advice unless you’re specifically asked. Additionally, if there are ten stair climber machines and only one is being used, don’t take the one closest to someone else. Generally, just try to give other people as much space as possible to do their workout while you do the same.
  • Treat the Equipment Well: Don’t drop weights on the floor after your lift and remember to always clean up machines and weights after using them. Especially when you’ve left sweaty hand or body prints behind. Bacteria and viruses can stick around on equipment and cleaning up after yourself helps keep everyone healthy. 
  • Don’t Be an Equipment Hog: Don’t hog the machines or weights, especially if you are using a popular piece of equipment. Often people are trying to fit a workout in a busy schedule and if it’s a busy time of day there will be a high demand for machines. Use a machine or weights to complete your set and then move on. If you need a break or want to scroll your phone between sets, move out of the way of others who may want to use your equipment next.
  • Wear Comfortable Clothing: Wearing comfortable athletic clothing can help you feel ready to tackle your workout. Wear clothes that are comfortable. Clothes should not too tight or restrictive also not being too loose to get in the way of your workout. While there are trends in workout wear like any other form of fashion, don’t feel the need to conform to what anyone else is wearing in the gym. Take a look at your gym’s rules for clothing, as well. Many gyms don’t allow patrons to workout while shirtless or only wearing a sports bra. 
  • Follow Your Gym Rules: While many people don’t look closely at a gym’s rules as they’re signing up for membership, it can be valuable information for beginners to read the posted rules that may be on a website, sign-up waivers, or up on the wall at the gym. Oftentimes, gyms or machines have placards that give you an idea of how you are supposed to use the machine. These can be helpful guidelines and reduce the chance for awkward encounters with staff or other gym goers. 

While you may be a little nervous your first few times at the gym, soon you’ll be the one advising friends about how they can navigate their new entrance into the gym world. Just as practice makes perfect in moving you closer to your workout goals, regularly following the guidelines we have listed here can help make you a respected member of your gym community. 

For more fitness advice and expertise, check out our blog for more posts about diversifying your workouts, eating healthy, and working out with your whole family.