Gym Etiquette

by laury on August 30, 2011 · 44 comments

Good Morning!

I was glad to hear that many of my bloggie friends did not suffer the wrath of Irene. It was a scary storm for sure. Watching all the damage on the news and hearing about lives that were lost in the storm was heartbreaking.

 Today I want to talk about common gym courtesy.

A few weeks ago I was finishing up a leg workout on two machines. I like to super-set with these and then get to stretching and get the heck out. Often times someone will come along and want to work in with me..and they usually do the same thing, with super-setting, so we swap which is fine. This time, a few weeks ago, a girl in her early-mid 20’s jumped in on the machine, and I waited patiently until she was finished her set to say “Do you mind if I work in on there, I only have one more.” She looked at me like how dare you ask me such a thing, and said “I’m not finished” like I had 4 heads. I watched as she proceeded to do like four sets, resting between, not allowing me to finish out my one set.  She had to feel me watching her, and getting impatient…these days I don’t have much time to workout, so time is of the essence.

My conclusion was that this girl was either A. Not familiar with proper gym etiquette or B. Just plain rude (is the nicest word I can come up with).



Here’s a few tips so you don’t become “that” person in the gym that comes across as rude or annoying or worse…

Gym Etiquette 101:

-Working In:

You either got what they want or want want they got. I asked Michael his biggest pet peeve, and it was similar to mine. People that circuit train on 500 pieces of equipment and them get annoyed if you want to use something in their circuit, when they may not even be back for 10 minutes. On the other hand..never just jump in on someone and switch up the bar if they leave to get a quick sip of water. It’s one thing if you didn’t know…but if you were close by and were unsure if a person was through, ask.

If you are using something, and rest between, or are super-setting/ circuit training/ etc…be courteous to others that want to work in, if at all possible.

-Respect the person letting you work in:

If someone is nice enough to let you work in on a machine, always put the weight and seat setting BACK where it was when you got there. Also, do not sit there and do 5 million reps…that person may be trying to rest a minimal amount of time and get their sets finished accordingly.


-Cell Phones:

There is nothing more annoying than someone pacing around the gym floor on their cell phone. I don’t mind in the locker room, in the outskirts of the gym. However, do NOT sit there chatting away around the equipment. It’s not only distracting, it’s annoying and you are in the way. Since Ella was born, I keep my phone with me at all times in case one of the M’s need to reach me (mom, MIL, Michael) …but I never talk on my phone or answer it unless it’s one of them. AND if they did (which hasn’t happened yet)  I’d walk into the locker room or outside.

Throwing Weights:

It’s not only dangerous, it’s not necessary. If the weight is so heavy you can’t place it down on the ground…maybe you shouldn’t be lifting it. When I was pregnant there was a guy tossing weights around when I was lying on a may right near my head. True story.

Filling your water bottle:

This is one I am notorious for. I’ve been going to my gym since I was 16 years old. I drink a lot of water. I drink even more when I workout. My bottle gets filled often. However..if there is a line or someone coming to get a sip, I let them go ahead of me. When I used to workout 6pm on Monday night (“big chest Monday is what they used to call it because ALL the guys were in there benching on Mondays)..I would stand there for quite a while waiting for a line to diminish. Be courteous and don’t sit there and fill your bottle when there are others waiting to just take a sip.

Very Loud Grunting/Moaning:

If you are working out hard there’s going to be some noises every now and then. I respect that. However…I don’t want to feel like I am on the set of a porno movie. There is “one of those” at my gym. Hardcore. It’s awkward.


When you are finished with something…put it away..for the love of GOD! Thank you.

No banging, please:

It is not proper form or proper etiquette to bang weights together. It’s obnoxious. Don’t do it.


Mirror Mirror:

There was once a guy at my gym whose nickname was “mirrors.” You would often catch him doing the “wipe my chin with my shirt while I nonchalantly check out my abs” move. Constantly checking himself out. Point being, the mirrors in the gym are not only for vanity purposes. They are there so that people can check their form. I couldn’t care less if you are obsessed with staring at yourself. However, be courteous if someone is in the middle of a set and do not linger in from of the mirror where they are. I understand sometimes it’s hard to not walk by, but if you HAVE to, do it quickly. Try not to though or wait until they are finished their set.


I can’t speak for everyone…but most of the time, if someone has headphones on, doesn’t make eye contact, and seems to be really into their workout, they don’t want to talk to you.


Never ever, ever interrupt someone when they are in the middle of a set. It’s dangerous!

Chatty Cathy:

Don’t be “that guy” or “that girl” who’s known for cornering people and chatting their ear off. People come to the gym to workout, some to socialize, but respect the time limit. If  you find someone that wants to converse longer than the small talk between sets, don’t do so while holding up equipment.

Respect Others Space:

I usually set up my own little area, out of the way (as much as possible with my gyms unfavorable new layout) to do my Body Rock or own Bosu or body weight workout. There is nothing worse than others coming and crowding your space and you have to sit and worry about someone tripping you in the middle of a burpee. On the other hand..never set up in areas that are high traffic or in front of weight racks where others need to go.

Cardio Deck:

I don’t workout at peak hours anymore…but when I did there used to be a time limit of 30 minutes when people were waiting. Be respectful of this. You would want others to do the same if you were waiting.

Asking the trainer:

Trainers are in the gym to help. However, they are also there for hire. If a trainer is with a client, who is paying them for their time, do not come over and interrupt with elaborate questions. Wait until they are through with their session, or look for one that is not busy. I am sure they would be happy to help.

Your stuff:

If you have a towel, water, place it out of the way. My biggest pet peeve is when someone places their stuff on a bench they are not even using! I see it happen all the time, and have not used certain things because I thought they were “claimed” (which is another no no), only to watch and find out someone was using it as storage.

Your stuff in the locker room:

If you are showering at the gym and have your bag with all your toiletries and clothing, just be aware of others trying to get in their lockers, especially at peak hours. I could do a whole post on locker room etiquette.

Unwanted advice:

I haven’t worked in a fitness club for a long time. I do all private training in homes and corporate gyms. At my gym, I often bite my tongue and cringe at some of the stuff I see people doing. I learned a long time ago that most people don’t want your advice. I know I’ve fallen victim to some meat head coming over trying to tell me something I should do. There’s a difference between unsolicited advice and someone that is receptive. If you aren’t sure the difference, you’re better off keeping your mouth shut. Especially if you are not qualified to give advice.


There are SO many more I could add…like…wear deodorant and wash your gym clothes. Don’t be a pervert. Oh, I have stories. There was a guy that used to carry around cut out pictures of women in bathing suits and tight clothes from magazines and kneel down and pray to them between sets. It was super creepy. I would try to stay far away from him because he beyond creepy. Like guys in the gym I never spoke to would come over to me when I was the only girl in there and tell me to stay away or ask me if I was okay with him being there. Eek. He eventually got thrown out when myself and a bunch of others (a lot of men even) complained.

What’s your biggest gym pet peeve???

Off to avoid violating the above now 😉



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{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }

1 allison August 30, 2011 at 6:03 am

Ahhhhhhhhhhhh this is making me so annoyed right now lol!! Gym ettiquet is one of my pet peeves!!! The things i have seen people so in the years i have worked (and worked out) in gyms is pretty ridiculous!!! Atleast i have never ran into anyone as creepy as that last guy!!


2 Lisa August 30, 2011 at 6:14 am

OMG…the cutting out pics/praying thing is SO creepy. That kind of thing is what makes men look like idiots — I guess a very obvious sign to stay away from those people too!
I LOVE these tips—the only time I worked in a gym was when I was employed at an Air Force base in the gym…and although they had some of their own weird (rank-based) issues, a lot of this stuff is the same. As a gym member (not currently, since I just moved…but before I belonged to a super ritzy gym)….the issues seem to be common everywhere. The naked ladies walking about the locker room uncovered always seem a little unnecessary to me! Maybe we can print out your list and post it in gyms across America 🙂


3 laury August 30, 2011 at 4:35 pm

I don’t get that at all!!!! I can understand if you’re getting dressed but WHY prance around in your birthday suit…so awkward!


4 Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat August 30, 2011 at 7:55 am

OMG you totally hit all my pet peeves in this post! The 500-machine circuit training, the grunting, the mirror gazing.. those are definitely 3 that are at the top of my list!


5 Katie August 30, 2011 at 9:00 am


I could go on and on, but I don’t have to because you aid it all for me! And I am on my way to the gym.


6 Keri @ Blue-Eyed Runner August 30, 2011 at 9:09 am

I never thought about how many unspoken rules there are at the gym, but its true! I used to question myself as a trainer because even as a fitness professional, I sometimes get intimidated in the weight room!

Have a great workout!


7 Liz August 30, 2011 at 9:09 am

Oh my goodness, I could not agree more with ALL of these! My biggest pet peeve goes along the lines of what you said about the mirrors. But in my case, I’ll be working out WITH MY TRAINER and a couple/a group of men will either: A. get on the bench directly in front of where I’m working out, not bothering to move it so they are out of the way between me and the mirror, or B. strike up conversation with each other between me and the mirror. I like to constantly check my form during most exercises because I have weak areas…but of all places to talk–really!?

In one instance when I was with my trainer, I made a point to tell him, loud enough for the guilty men to hear, “Really?? These jerks REALLY have no place else to talk??” So annoying!


8 laury August 30, 2011 at 4:37 pm

Good for you! That’s so annoying!


9 Lauren August 30, 2011 at 9:15 am

On top of what you have already listed here i have to add…girls wearing perfume!!!!! ARE YOU SERIOUS!?!?!? Do you know how horrible that is to smell when youre trying to work out…or what happens to perfume once you start sweating? (thats IF you ever actually break into a sweat cuz ive noticed the ones that do this act like its a fashion show or a night club and dont really work out). Your not covering up any smells or sweat your making it a thousand times worse…for everyone! pls pls pls ladies…stop doing this!


10 laury August 30, 2011 at 4:37 pm

Yuck! Are they even serious!!?? I hate that makes me gag!


11 thehealthyapron August 30, 2011 at 9:39 am

OMG, cell phones and chatty girls are my biggest pet peeves! Also, girls who dress up for the gym. Ug. You are there to work out! Not pick up guys! These are all great tips! I have been annoyed by them all ha.

Another big pet peeve is GUYS who hog the weight equipment. In college I HATED how the guys acted like the stuff was THEIRS! I like women only areas best.


12 laury August 30, 2011 at 4:38 pm

Oh I totally agree. I walk right up in the bench area and stand my ground! When I was a teenager I totally avoided the “guys side” of the gym but now I own it 😉


13 Kat August 30, 2011 at 9:54 am

I dont belong to a gym 🙁
Glad to hear you guys are safe though! I am praying for those states to be back up on their feet soon!


14 Greg Masleh August 30, 2011 at 9:56 am

All your pet peeves were accurate in any gym. Gym etiquette is quickly becoming an endangered species. If its not taught or handed down it will continue to get worse. My biggest pet peeve is boyfriends training thier girlfriends or fathers or mothers training thier kids and all of the above are teaching them thier bad habits, bad form, and most of the time too much weight for thier age.


15 laury August 30, 2011 at 4:39 pm

I see that all the time!!! What is this new thing with parents bringing in their 10 year old that weight 70 pounds having them do plyo jumps higher than them holding 35 pound weights. Ridiculous!


16 Chelsea August 30, 2011 at 9:57 am

I think you named all of my pet peeves of that’s for sure haha! I had this guy in my gym who would always give meat head advice. Like one time he tried making me do HIS ab workout because it was better than mine. He literally told me that. Except every ab movement he had me doing I had already done before in my workout. He would also tell me how to lift my weights and how I was being a baby by not lifting more. It was….an awful experience needless to say.


17 laury August 30, 2011 at 4:40 pm

I think he was definitely hitting on you. When I was younger it would happen to me where they wanted to “show me” their routine because it was better thinking I would eat it up. I became a trainer when I was 20 so I always just said, no thank you, I am good, I do this for a living.


18 Holly @ The Runny Egg August 30, 2011 at 10:01 am

My pet peeves are similar — mostly I get annoyed with people who don’t respect my space. Like there are 10 treadmills to choose from and they pick the one next to me — WHY??? I do my weights routine during non-busy times so I don’t have to deal with people wanting to jump in for their sets, etc.


19 laury August 30, 2011 at 4:40 pm

My biggest is when the ENTIRE locker room is empty and someone has to go RIGHT next to me..the locker next to mine like…are you serious?


20 The Delicate Place August 30, 2011 at 10:03 am

preach it! i hate the cell phone on the machine one and elliptical/magazine combo when the girl is wearing a full face of makeup and like hot pants. seriously, who are you trying to fool? you aren’t working out ha!


21 laury August 30, 2011 at 4:41 pm

Ugh…I used to see that all the time but luckily my gym is mostly serious people since all the LA Fitness meat markets opened and all the makeup hott pants chicks go there


22 Julie (A Case of the Runs) August 30, 2011 at 11:50 am

I got irritated just reading the tips — not because of you, but because they are true!

I work out at a specialized gym (not Bally’s, 24 Hour Fitness, etc.), but I do still see some of this stuff going on. My biggest annoyances at the moment are:

– chatty people: I work out at 6-7 AM, and the gym is otherwise relatively quiet (well, if you don’t count the music); one woman in particular talks every moment she is there and has a high pitched voice. I once heard her moaning and groaning… on the stairclimber!

– people who try to tell you what to do: A lady had gotten sweat ALL over the Jacob’s ladder and was on the stairclimber next to it. I was hesitating with the strap (for the Jacob’s ladder) only because it was SO gross, but she went on to instruct me how to use it, like I didn’t already know. I later saw that same lady wash her hair in the sink.

– cell phones: Please don’t use these things for gossiping!


23 laury August 30, 2011 at 4:42 pm

Ewwwwww! Do people have any sense??!!


24 Julie (A Case of the Runs) August 30, 2011 at 7:08 pm

In a couple of weeks, I am going to link back to this post when I review a book about working out without a gym… =)


25 Charlie August 30, 2011 at 12:03 pm

My first gym was really small and when I got to my university’s gym, I didn’t know we had to reserve the cardio machines. I felt so bad when someone came to me saying it was their machine!


26 jen August 30, 2011 at 12:27 pm

I went to a gym that was small so only one of each weight machine for the most part. Well woman would come in together and sit at the machines and talk not even work out and take up the machines so others couldn’t use them. I don’t understand why this gym never said anything to these woman.


27 laury August 30, 2011 at 4:42 pm

that is beyond annoying! I would have said something!


28 Alexa @ Simple Eats August 30, 2011 at 3:40 pm

That would have driven me nuts! My biggest gym pet peeve is when people “claim” a machine for over an hour. It’s not labeled with your name on it!


29 jen August 30, 2011 at 4:02 pm

i love this topic! heres my addition…i hate it when people check out your stats! ill be on the elliptical and the person next to me will crane their neck to see my speed and calories burn. uhh hi, i can totally see you! i hate that!

on a more personal note, its not a pet peeve but i dont get the people at my gym that chug dunkin donuts iced coffees during their workout. watching them suck down their cream and sugar iced coffees makes ME want to puke, so i have no idea how they do that while working out!


30 laury August 30, 2011 at 4:57 pm

yuck! I see that too and it makes me nauseous thinking about it!


31 Shanna August 30, 2011 at 4:41 pm

I would have wanted to b*tch slap her!!!

Too much cologne is a pet peeve.


32 Heather @ Get Healthy with Heather August 30, 2011 at 5:56 pm

One of the reasons I love working out at home… None of these annoyances to deal with!


33 nellie August 30, 2011 at 9:24 pm

This is an awesome list, I wish I could print it out and post at the gym! My biggest one is the locker room bench scenario. I feel like one day I might just flip and do a clean sweep of the bench 🙂 that would be kinda awesome actually…..


34 Pure2raw twins August 30, 2011 at 11:11 pm

great tips and advice! oh boy do I remember those gym days, luckily now I do not have to worry about all that LOL my at home gym I can do whatever I want haha just kidding!! I always hated the talkers on the phones and people listening to really loud music.


35 Sarina August 31, 2011 at 3:56 am

Makeup and jewellery at the gym! Drives me crazy!
I can understand basic jewellery e.g. wedding rings, studs, etc, but large hoop earrings at a 7am gym class? You definitely did not sleep with those on so you have put them on solely for working out! And fair enough if you have come straight from work and still have traces of makeup on (I’ll often wipe off my foundation but still have bits of eye makeup – too lazy :)) but there are women there with lipstick and the full face – at 9am – crazy!


36 GirlonRaw August 31, 2011 at 4:03 am

OMG this post really got me worked up about the times I have had many of these happen in my gym as well. I will most definitely repost! I live in Saudi Arabia too, where the men’s and women’s gyms are segregated and mobile phones are actually banned in any part of the gym, to stop people from taking photos of the women (who are usually covered in burqa’s or abaya’s out in public) and showing them around. As a new mum, I kinda find it annoying though, like you, I need to be in constant contact with my bubba at all times.


37 Kathleen August 31, 2011 at 12:35 pm

Laury, this is so good! Ohmygosh girl, this post is SO AMAZING!!! I never really thought about that their is ettiquete at a gym, but it makes sense — it’s not really like “dining etiquite” or anything, but it is more silent. Thank you thank you THANK YOU for all of your hard work on this post — it is absolutely INCREDIBLE!


38 Kent September 4, 2011 at 6:03 pm

Everyone at my gym (Gold’s in Dallas) sits on the equipment texting or talking on their cellphones. It makes it impossible to have a good workout. “No cellphone use” is listed as a Gold’s “Rule,” but management will not enforce it. So, I don’t know which is my greater peeve, the cellphone use by the members or the indifference of management. I’m about to join a new gym as a result.


39 Fitness Centre Adelaide September 5, 2011 at 12:10 am

yeah i agreed with your view on the given post .Hi, this blog is really amazing and provide me answers to all my questions. This is really informative and I will for sure refer my friends the same. Thanks for sharing.


40 StoriesAndSweetPotatoes April 25, 2012 at 4:33 pm

Wow that’s a long list, lol! I think that girl didn’t understand what you were asking her but she should have asked what you were talking about. I can’t imagine someone having the balls to be that bitchy but I’m sure it’s possible. I’m lucky my gym has a faucet next to all the drinking fountains for filling up bottle because I fill mine up like three times. Seems like something that should be standard to me. The gym I’m at now is probably the most well-behaved and it’s enormous so crowding is never really a problem.


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