The Unspoken Rules Of Going To The Gym

By Nick Hadji 10 months ago


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This is a shared space, people! Everyone else has the right to be there just as much as you do. And there's nothing worse than going to use a piece of equipment and find it's covered in someone else's sweat. It takes less than 30 seconds to wipe down what you've used and leave it in a nice state for the next person!Original content sourced from

2. Please don't record other people at the gym

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Look, we get that gym selfies and workout videos are a hot thing right now. Do we love it, not really, but we understand. If you are going to video yourself, please don't be rude about it. If someone walks in front of your video, don't yell at them. It's their gym space too. And definitely don't record other people for your amusement to post online.

3. Don't move people's stuff without asking

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If you see someone's gym bag or towel or water bottle, and you think it should be somewhere else. Ask around first for the owner, because no one wants your sweaty palms all over their stuff. Of course, if the stuff is in an inconvenient or even dangerous spot, then alert a gym staff member! Just be respectful of people's property!

4. You shouldn't swing kettlebells in a high traffic area

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This is kind of common sense! Kettlebell swings are a fantastic workout, but a lot could go wrong if you're doing them in an area where people are constantly walking. You could seriously injure someone during your swing, or if you were to happen to drop the kettlebell, you could injure yourself or another person.

5. Keep your eyes to yourself

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Even if it's not sexual, it's sometimes easy to find yourself staring at people in the gym. Maybe you're just checking out their form, or you're super impressed by what they're doing. But it's best to try to keep your eyes to yourself. If you're that interested in what someone else is doing, you can politely approach to ask for pointers, but do this with discretion if they don't seem like they want to talk to you!

6. Respect the headphones

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Speaking of talking, be observant if someone has their headphones in. This is a pretty telltale sign that they're focused on their workout and not looking to chat it up. If you need to ask a question, wait until the right moment, because interrupting someone's set can be dangerous if you catch them off guard.

7. If you're listening to music, use your headphones

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We all know, your taste in music is impeccable, but sometimes we don't feel like listening to the Titanic soundtrack while we're pumping iron. If that's what gets you psyched, more power to ya, but maybe throw your headphones on. Be respectful of others at the gym who are maybe listening to their favorite podcast or an album that really gets them hyped.

8. Be a good spotter

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If someone asks you to spot for them, then please make sure you know what you're doing. The safety of both parties, but especially the lifter, depends on it. You can be hands off until they ask you to help them. It's really distracting and unnecessary to be touching the bar the entire time or trying to lift it for them.

9. Do a hygiene check before you enter the gym

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Deodorant exists for a reason. Before you go to the gym, just check that you aren't already stinky. The same goes for your clothes. If they're the same ones you've been working out in all week, it's likely time to throw on some fresh clothes before you head to a shared space. Your fellow gym-goers will be appreciative!

10. Make sure you do a good warm-up

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They say that warming up and stretching is just as important as the actual workout. Making sure you take the time to stretch beforehand helps to prevent injuries. Most gyms have a designated area with mats for this so that you're not in the way. It's also great to stretch or foam roll after your workout.

11. Asking someone if you can work in with them

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So you see someone using the equipment you want to use. If they don't have headphones in, and they're not in the middle of a set, maybe you're thinking of asking them if you can "work in." Before you do so, make sure it makes sense for both of you, and ask yourself if you can get the same workout using other equipment already available. If it's green flags all around, then go ahead and ask!

12. Try to keep the noise making in check

Image Source: RedditYes, lifting weights is hard work, and sometimes when you're focused on what you're doing and trying to breathe, the noises just come out. But try to keep the breathing in check and keep the grunting and moaning to a minimum. The same goes for excessive swearing and dropping the weights when you're done.

13. Speaking of weights, know your weight limit

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If you have to throw your weights, drop your weights or otherwise make a scene when you're finishing a set, you're likely lifting too heavy. This can damage the weights, the gym floor, and cause injury to yourself. It's actually not beneficial from a gains perspective to lift in this manner anyways!

14. If you're trying to do a circuit, follow this rule

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If you want to do a circuit set, then try to pick a few things that are close together. If the gym is super busy, it's probably not a good time to try to set up a circuit. When your circuit is too spread out, you run the likelihood that someone will think the equipment is free, and that will frustrate both you and the other person.

15. Make sure equipment is free before taking it

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If you're looking to use the barbell, just do a quick scan to make sure it's actually free. Is there a towel laid out or personal belongings nearby? Before you unload the barbell, just make sure it's available. It's also okay to check with someone if they're not in the middle of a set to see what the situation is.

16. Don't be afraid to ask for help

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The gym staff workers are there for a reason. If you have a question about how something works or a particular gym etiquette, the staff can definitely help you out. Most of them are trained in physical health and fitness to some degree. If they can't help you, most regular gym-goers are also happy to answer a couple questions, but just look for someone who doesn't have headphones in!

17. Use a towel

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If you know that you're prone to sweat like your own personal sauna, then it might be a good idea to bring your own towel to the gym or pick one up at the front desk on your way in. Of course, we're all good gym members who wipe down the equipment, but the towel provides an extra barrier and helps to keep you from dripping all over the treadmill or the person you're spotting.

18. Please don't fart in the open gym

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We get it. You're working out and your body is responding. Stuff is moving around in there. But please, if you have to fart, we beg you to go to the bathroom/locker room to do so. There are enough smells already permeating the gym area without adding those into the mix, so it's for the greater good!

19. Unload the bar and squat rack safely

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It may feel annoying to have to walk back and forth, but you need to unload the rack taking a single plate at a time off each side. If you unload one side in its entirety while the other side is full, you're going to create a dangerous situation! It can easily flip sideways and injure you and anyone else in the way.

20. Try not to hog the mirror

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Everyone is trying to check themselves out when they're working out. It's human nature. But even if you wanna keep an eye on your form, just try to be courteous about it. Don't take up an entire space to the point where no one else can also see what they're doing, and definitely don't walk in front of someone who's already checking the mirror!

21. Don't occupy equipment if you're on your phone

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Phones are useful at the gym, whether you're writing down your workouts or using the timer. But if you're resting in-between sets, don't hog equipment while you're scrolling social media. If you need to have a conversation on the phone, please step to the side somewhere so that not everyone has to listen to you argue with your boss!

22. Don't talk to someone who's getting ready to lift

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Deadlifts and squats take a bit of mental and physical preparation. If you see someone preparing to do these types of exercises, it's probably not a good idea to use that moment to strike up a conversation. If they're facing the bar looking serious, it's best to save the chat for later.

23. It's okay to save equipment under certain circumstances

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Okay, you finally got the dumbbells you've been waiting to use. If you need to step away for a second, it's okay to place your towel over them, so people know that you're going to use them as soon as you get back from grabbing a drink of water. But please don't do this if you're going to be gone for 10 minutes or more when someone else could be getting a set in!

24. Eating and drinking etiquette

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Of course, you need to stay hydrated. Maybe you like to drink your protein shake. Beyond this, it's probably best if you save your food and drinks for after your workout. I've been running on the treadmill next to someone who's eating an entire meal while on the elliptical. Honestly, just save it for later!

25. Be mindful of personal space

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The gym can get crowded sometimes, and sometimes there's no other choice than to take the treadmill right next to someone. But if the space allows, try to spread out and give people the space they need to get a good workout in. This especially goes in the free weights area. If someone's doing squats or utilizing a bench, try to not work out right on top of them.

26. Don't drown yourself in cologne

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While it's important to not smell BAD at the gym, there's also an issue when people pour cologne, body spray or perfume all over themselves before heading into this shared space. Even if your gym crush is there, it's not a good idea to make other people have headaches or feel nauseous because of your choices!

27. You don't have to work out right in front of the weights rack

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Sometimes it feels convenient to grab the weights you need and then pick a spot nearby to start doing your bicep curls. But just remember that other people need to access the weight rack too, so there might be a better spot for your to stand. If you do choose to stand there, then don't be annoyed if you get interrupted!

28. Don't start conversations in the locker room NAKED

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You just really need to tell someone about your day or ask someone about their workout. That's totally fine, but it's super awkward to approach anyone at the gym in the locker room when you're not clothed. I'm speaking from experience. It's just really uncomfy, and the conversation can wait until you've put some pants on!

29. Don't give people unsolicited advice

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The only exception to this is if someone is in immediate danger. You might see someone doing something wrong, and it takes everything in you to not correct their form. But in reality, you don't know someone's goals or previous injuries where they might have to modify an exercise, so it's best to just keep that stuff to yourself!

30. Re-rack your damn weights!

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The amount of times I've had to go hunting for a set of 15s. Please, please re-rack your weights in the proper spot when you're finished. Once again, the gym is a communal space, and it functions best when we all help each other out. We're all adults here, so please clean up after yourself!

31. Don't do your curls in the squat rack!

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The clue's in the name with this one: you should only be doing (you guessed it) squatting in the squat rack, so if you're not going to be working on the squats, you shouldn't be in that area whatsoever! You definitely shouldn't be doing your curling in the squat rack, and you shouldn't bothering someone else using the rack while you're doing your curls!

32. Don't spot someone if you're sweaty

image source: YouTube
You can't help getting sweaty in the gym - in fact, it's encouraged if you want to make your workout count - but if you're dripping with sweat, there're certain things you shouldn't be doing. And one of these - no matter how good your intentions are - is to bend over someone when you're spotting them while those huge beads of sweat are literally dripping off your forehead onto them.

33. Walk behind someone at the mirror, not in front

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It's just the decent thing to do. It doesn't matter if you hate the fact they're filming themselves in the mirror for a TikTok, or that they're in your way, it just makes sense to walk behind them instead of right by the camera so that your sweaty gym head goes into focus on their video and they end up shooting you the evil eye for the rest of their (and your) workout.

34. Don't pose in the mirror right next to someone who's training

image source: KJB Fitness
It's okay to use the mirror if you want to watch your own technique. It's even okay if you just want o stand there and admire your muscles from every angle - you do you. But it's not good gym etiquette if you walk right up to someone who is in front of the mirror training and decide that right next to them is the spot you want to admire yourself - and your biceps - for half an hour, while they're trying to train.

35. Think twice about wearing a belt

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A workout belt is there for good reason, but the simple fact is, you don't need to wear it for every. Single. Set. And for every single workout you're doing, too. Rather than looking like you're a professional who knows what they're doing, it just makes you look a bit silly - like you're putting more focus on the fact you're wearing a belt than your actual workout technique.

36. It's not a place to pick up dates

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We know it can't be helped if you develop a gym crush. And you can't help but notice other attractive people at the gym. You might think you're taking your shot by asking out that person you've noticed going to the gym the same time as you, but it's really not the time mid sweaty workout to ask someone out. Not only that, if they've headphones on and they're training, they don't want to be chatted up.

37. It's not a place to chat with pals, either

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Sure, you can go to the gym with a bunch of mates who need to workout at the same time as you, and you can talk to each other while you're using different machines, or maybe spotting each other. What isn't okay is paying for a gym membership and then using the entire time you're there to just sit on the machines without using them only to chit chat about your week, or that colleague that annoys you. Take it to a coffee shop instead!

38. Don't rush to spot someone without them asking

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This one is for you gym bros who rush over to help a female gym goer even though she never asked you for help. If she did, great - it's courteous to help her if you have time to. Otherwise, you don't want to go up to her - that closely, either - with that area of your body right in her face when she never even asked for it. You might think you're helping, but you're really, really not.

39. It'll look cooler without gloves

image source: Healthline
If you've been wearing gym gloves for your workouts, you might be thinking that's the best way to hold equipment, as well as potentially be a bit more hygienic. But if you're serious about your workout, those callouses is what will help you in the long run! Just like playing guitar, we guess. So ditch the gym gloves - save yourself some money on them, too - and go for bare hands!

40. Don't forget your leg workout

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Too many people who start hitting the gym think that what's most important is building big muscles with more potential to be seen like those biceps or those abs. Building core strength is key, but as the saying goes - never skip leg day! Make sure you're including your legs in your gym routine because no one wants to see a massively top heavy gym bro with tiny twiggy legs... do us all a favor, and even it out.

41. Respect the shaker cup!

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The shaker cup, by its very definition, is to shake together water with your favorite gym shake to keep you fuelled for your workout and get some protein in there. It's handy to have, and you should be using it properly - by making sure you put more than just water in there! You might as well just take a regular water bottle if you're going to use a shaker cup just for that.

42. Don't give advice when it wasn't asked for

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Even if it's painful to watch because they're doing it so very, very wrong, you shouldn't say anything at all to another gym goer in the way of advice unless they specifically ask you for it. And you definitely shouldn't comment on someone who's doing something perfectly fine, it's just a little different to how you'd do it - nobody likes a know it all!

43. Don't be tempted to tell impressive lifters how good you *used* to be

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We all know the story - there's an awesome and impressive lifter at the gym who's so good that it's inevitable people will pay attention to them, and suddenly you're compelled to hover around them and tell them that you could totally do what they're doing if it wasn't for the injury you had a couple years ago, or (enter other reason here that may or may not be true).

44. Try not to linger next to a machine

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You might not even know you're doing it, because you're taking a moment to catch your breath or think which machine you're going to do next, but definitely don't linger next to a machine you're absolutely not going to use, or you've just finished using - someone who's just arrived at the gym and only just seen you might think you're getting ready to use it, so it'll stop them from doing so!

45. Learn proper form

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Proper form is so important for a good gym workout, and the worst culprits for not having proper form are those who are lifting but doing it more like a 'bounce' off their chest than using proper form. It's important to spend your time at the gym learning proper form first to give your shoulders a break, rather than 'how quickly can I look super impressive to everyone'.

46. Don't ask people about their supplements

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It's also not very good etiquette to ask people what supplements they're taking - or even just to presume they're taking anything at all. It can be a little insulting for a huge gym goer with those massive muscles they've been diligently working on for years to be asked what help they're getting from supplements or other things to give them a boost, when they're not actually taking anything. (Or, it's none of your business).

47. Don't do lunges on the walkway

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We get it, the main walkway of the gym with the most space at a long distance can seem the perfect spot to do some lunges, but it's a walkway, not a workout spot, and it's needed for precisely what it's there to do - keep the flow of gym traffic going! So if you're doing lunges there, you're just in everyone's way, holding everyone up and looking like a fool.

48. Don't choose your music on the machine

image source: Modern Health Monk
If it's going to take you a good ten minutes to load up your perfect workout playlist songs, then it's best to choose them over in the corner rather on the machine you've just finished on, or even before you've started on the machine, because someone could be quickly using it while you sort your music out! Never hog machines anyway, but definitely not if you're going through songs on shuffle!

49. Don't spit in the water fountain

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We know that a hefty workout when you're sweating can leave you with extra saliva in your mouth that you just need to spit, but definitely DO NOT do it in the water fountain (and we can't believe we have to tell people that). You can take a drink but don't swill it and then spit it back out into the fountain. If you need to spit, go to the bathroom sinks instead, or outside!

50. Cover yourself up properly

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We don't mean you shouldn't have any skin out at the gym, you're welcome to wear the tiniest pants in the world or the smallest shirt/bra, but we just mean make sure this stuff actually fits properly so you're not going to be at risk of a little wardrobe malfunction that every other gym goer is going to end up seeing! Make sure your gym stuff has good coverage with a snug fit!