Esince we were kids, the rules of basic etiquette have been ingrained in (most of) us: say please and thank you, hold doors open for people behind you, chew with your mouth closed. But when it comes to the gym, our manners muscles are often the last to be flexed. We often put so much energy into going through our training that common courtesy lags behind.
How can you make sure your behavior doesn’t mess up someone else’s gym experience? Mike Silverman, CPT, a senior instructor at Living.Fit and master trainer at OneLife Fitness in Bethesda, Maryland, shares the worst gym etiquette mistakes and bad habits he wishes members quit based on what he’s seen over the past 26 years that he has worked in the industry.
Common gym etiquette mistakes, according to a senior trainer
1. Not stretching your weights
Silverman sets the tone: “You go to the bench, you’re ready to lift… and there are weights on the bar. What’s even worse is when you go to put them away and the storage rack is a Christmas tree: there are 10s with the 45s, and those are under 25. Come on!
Unfortunately, this scenario is not exactly uncommon. Too often people leave their weights on the barbell, next to the bench on the floor, or stick them in the wrong place on the rack.
But no one wants to do a workout by taking weights off the racks and stretching them back up before their workout, and the staff certainly don’t want to come after you either. “As a trainer, I probably pick up 3,500 pounds per shift and re-rack it,” says Silverman.
Returning your weights to their proper home can be one last lift (think of it as a cooldown!), and you’ll earn some good gym karma, too.
2. Recording equipment while filming (or watching) TikTok content.
Of course, taking photos and videos in the gym can help you stay accountable. But using your phone to film content can be an annoyance to other members if you don’t do it thoughtfully. “It’s just not cool to set up a tripod in the middle of the hiking trail and redo some reps 30 times so you can get the most out of your butt,” says Silverman. room.”
That doesn’t mean you should never film your workouts. But choose times with low traffic and be courteous to others who may also want to use the equipment. If you know it’s going to take a while to get the perfect shot and someone’s waiting, step away so they can get their set first.
In general, even when you’re not filming content, you need to be mindful of overcrowded equipment while you’re on the phone. “We all understand that recovery between sets is important, but there’s no way that bench press requires 6 minutes of YouTube videos and half a dozen TikToks to get your pecs ready,” says Silverman. There’s nothing worse than wanting to use a machine and seeing someone there texting or scrolling social media. “Watch videos at home. People come here to work and spend their day,” says Silverman.
3. Don’t use headphones
We can all agree that the right playlist is absolutely essential for a tough workout, but you’re the only one who should be able to get pumped up from your jam. Silverman says, “This must be a major annoyance to both staff and members. No one is trying to hear the latest Lil’ John pop or a looping meme video. Put in your earbuds, throw on your headphones, whatever; but turn off your speakers.”
This includes telephone calls. Speakerphone or FaceTime at the gym is a big no-no. People don’t want to hear your conversations, so please don’t make them. If you need to be called during your workout, go to the lobby or a hallway and come back when you’re done.
Thankfully, there are plenty of great headphones on the market, whether you prefer wireless or wired headphones (which are back in style thanks to their sound quality).
4. Don’t disinfect equipment when you’re done with it
We’ve all become well-versed in the art of sanitizing over the years, and cleaning your equipment at the gym is no exception. There’s nothing worse than walking up to a machine and seeing someone else’s body print etched in sweat right there.
All gyms have stations with wipes and/or spray bottles of disinfectant and paper towels to use when you’re done using a piece of shared equipment. This isn’t just about weight benches. This includes dumbbells, barbells, cardio machines (handrails and foot rails), and anywhere your sweat has gotten. Silverman’s advice when it comes to taking care of your workout space is, “Spray it down, wipe it down, pick it up. No one wants your funk on their body.
5. Crashing (or no-showing) for reservation-based classes
Booking a spot in a reservation-based group fitness class is a great way to hold yourself accountable. It’s like setting up a meeting with yourself that you can’t cancel. But you are only welcome if you have actually booked that place.
“My club has a lot of small studios and some classes are tight, like 10 people. If someone shows up who isn’t registered, someone who has signed up gets kicked. Seriously not cool,” says Silverman. Equally frustrating is when people sign up for a class but don’t show up. Because if the class is full and you don’t show up, someone who could have done it loses, Silverman adds.
He also mentions how your attendance can financially impact your favorite instructors. “Another thing to consider is that some places pay instructors through signups or attendance, so if you don’t sign up or don’t show up, they may not get paid.”
Of course life happens and our schedules are not always predictable. But don’t sneak into a class unless you’ve signed up in advance, and if you can’t, cancel so someone else can.
6. Peering over “your” spot
While there are some types of classes where you can choose a particular spot in the room when you sign up, most group fitness classes are first come, first served. People tend to have a favorite place, and that’s totally fine. What’s not nice is getting “turky” about it.
Silverman says he sees this a lot in yoga and certain group fitness classes. “People storm in the door as soon as the studio opens and put on every possible piece of kit they are considering using. There’s a stack of weights, steps, bars, dumbbells, yoga blocks, double mats, you name it. It’s like they moved in for a week. But that one time they are a few minutes behind, and someone gets ‘their’ spot? Oh man! I’ve seen members almost come to blows over it.”
If you can’t work out in your favorite part of the room, it may put you off for a moment, but take a step back and ask yourself how much it will do Real influence you. ‘It’s only a few meters of floor space and you’ll be there for an hour. You’ll get just as sweaty in the second row on the left as you do in the middle third row,” says Silverman. Show up earlier next time if you’re committed to a certain spot. And if someone else is already there, it might be time to find a new favorite spot in the room.