The Unwritten Rules Of Gym Etiquette


Gym Etiquette 101

What makes the gym a unique social gathering place is the fact that at the gym adults are forced to cooperate and share equipment in a service setting where each one is viewed as the customer. Hence, gym management is often hesitant to post a long list of Do’s and Don’ts.

However, other gym patrons do hold each other to a higher standard of behavior. You don’t agree with you? Than think about “that” guy or gal at the gym…Of course we all know one…as you read this article and you will be better able to understand what I mean.

Luckily though, gym etiquette is based on the principles of common courtesy. So, if you have a good grasp on what it means to be courteous to others you will be able to understand and abide by the unwritten rules of gym etiquette. 

The following is a short list of my gym etiquette pet peeves. Please feel free to share your gym etiquette pet peeves as well.

Gym Floor Etiquette

  • Don’t Stare! Regardless of what anyone looks like at the gym, there is absolutely no reason to stare.
  • Wipe Your Sweat: There is nothing more inconsiderate than being that guy or gal who leaves the elliptical machine or treadmill covered in a pool of sweat. For the sake of hygiene and common courtesy, take a few seconds to wipe down the machine with the disinfecting solution provided by all gyms.
  • Don’t Violate People’ s Personal Space: If you don’t know exactly what I mean by this than you are guilty of it.
  • Don’t Grunt…Too Loudly: This is bound to happen when you are in the midst of an intense weight training workout. However, do try to keep it under control. You don’t want to be the guy who sounds like he is taking a huge, painful dump in the weight lifting room, or the lady who sounds like she’s about to give birth.
  • Put Your Dumbbells Away: Leaving your dumbbells laying around is a safety hazard.
  • Don’t Drop Your Weights On The Floor, Set Them Down Carefully: This is for your safety as well as the safety of others around you. 
  • Don’t Leave Barbells And Machines Loaded With Weight Plates: There is nothing more annoying than having to take 200+ pounds of weight off of a weight training machine before you can use it.
  • Don’t Sit On Machines You Are Not Using
  • Don’t Interrupt Gym Trainers Who Are Working With Clients: This is highly inconsiderate as people pay a great deal of money for their personal training sessions. If you need help, go to the front desk and ask for a personal trainer, who is not with a client to help you.
  • Do Not Spit Your Gum In The Water Fountain: Yes! I’ve seen people do this. GROSS!!!
  • Don’t Exceed The Posted Time Limit On Machines During Gym Rush Hours: If you must spend three hours on an elliptical machine, come to the gym during down times. If you do not know your gym’s down times ask a personal trainer or the gym manager.

Fitness Class Etiquette

  • If A Fitness Class Requires A Sign-Up Honor It: Most popular fitness classes, such as Zumba, Spinning and Bootcamp, require a sign-up due to limited space. If you can’t arrive a few minutes early, to make it on the sign-up sheet, it is highly unethical and inconsiderate of you to sneak into the class.
  • Don’t Walk Into A Fitness Class 15-20 Minutes Late: Most fitness classes last for 30-45 minutes. So walking into a class 15-20 minutes late serves no purpose but to annoy the instructor and other students.
  • If You Must Leave A Fitness Class Early, Do Not Walk In Front Of The Instructor: This is distracting both to the instructor and the other students in the class.

Gym Locker Room Etiquette

  • Don’t Use More Than One Locker: Unless you’re planning to move into the gym locker room, I don’t see how you can possibly fill two or more lockers?
  • Do Not Start A Conversation In The Locker Room If You Or The Other Person Are Not Both Fully Dressed: Yes! People actually do this. There is nothing more awkward than having someone start a conversation with you in the locker room when you, or the other person, are naked.
  • Throw Your Garbage In The Trash Can: If you were at home, would you leave wadded, wet pieces of paper towels laying around the sink or toss your garbage at the trash can, miss, and leave the piece of trash sitting at the foot of the trash can? If your answer to this question is NO! than don’t do it at the gym either.

Gym Day Care Etiquette

  • Do Not Leave Your Kids At The Gym Day Care For More Than Two hours: The day care center at the gym is just a babysitting service. These centers are not equipped to care for your kids for more than two hours, which is the average amount of time after which most kids become bored, hungry, sleepy, etc. and begin to misbehave.
  • If Your Child Is Too Sick To Go To School She Is Too Sick To Attend The Gym Day Care Center
  • Bring Considerate Snacks For Your Child: The reality is that kids share their snacks with each other. So, when you pack your kids’ snacks you must take their potential impact on other kids into consideration. A bag of peanuts is a good example of an inconsiderate snack since other kids, at the day care center, may be dangerously allergic to it.
  • Put Away Your Baby Stroller: There is nothing more annoying than opening the gym door and tripping over someone’s baby stroller as you attempt to enter. Fortunately, most gyms have a designated spot for baby strollers, where they are kept safe and out of the other patrons’ way.

photo courtesy of: CherryPoint


Paulin Soleyman
Paulin Soleyman is the founder and editor of The Underground Bootcamp. Her goal is to help everyday people live healthier, happier, more fulfilling lives by sharing all that she knows about healthy living, nutrition, and fitness.
Paulin Soleyman


  1. says

    I went to the gym for years over those years I bought enough equipment to have my own home gym. I hated dealing with the people at the gym – – I am SOOOO much happier working out at home…..another pet peeve of mine is: Don’t change the music or tv channel that is already on without first asking the other people in the room if they mind that you change it…..seriously people would just walk in the room the music or tv would already be on – they decided THEY didn’t like it and would change it – – I would say: I was listening or watching that……Totally used to **** me off.

  2. Toni @ runninglovingliving says

    Great list!! I especially like respecting the personal space, this drives me crazy!!! I have one to add-DO NOT wear a ton of perfume or cologne, it actually makes people sick.

  3. says

    Hi Carl, I LOVE your blog. Can you please share the link to that article in this comment link? I would LOVE to read the male perspective on this topic. I know that the male point of view about a lot of the issues I talk about here is missing in my blog so feel free to contribute all you want….and perhaps do a couple guest posts???

  4. says

    I so agree with this list. It should be posted in ALL gyms. Some dudes grunt so loud! Freaks me out each time. I’m not sure if they’re dying or what.

  5. says

    All good advice…especially wiping down machines. I can’t stand when people don’t do that. Like their sweat is going to motivate me to work harder?

    If you DO come across someone at the gym who doesn’t follow these rules, feel free to point them to the open letters I drafted to “that guy” and “that girl” at the gym. They need to read these. Please, make them read these. It would do us all a favor.

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