The gym can be intimidating for anyone who’s just started working out. There are several unwritten rules people follow in fitness centers — called gym etiquette — that make the experience positive for everyone. Whether you’re new to the gym or just aren’t sure what gym behavior is all about, continue reading to learn the best practices for the gym below.
Proper gym etiquette starts with understanding the rules of your gym. These rules can vary among gyms, so they may be different than you’re used to if you’ve attended other gyms before. For example, some gyms allow barefoot training. If your gym doesn’t display its rules clearly, ask for a copy so you can brush up on them.
Wearing the proper attire can set you up for workout success and is a small part of gym etiquette. Wear comfortable, breathable workout clothing that stays in place while you move around. Wearing clothing that’s too tight or too baggy can be dangerous to you while exercising. Use supportive sneakers and leave jewelry and accessories at home.
Practice good hygiene, too. Everyone at the gym is getting their sweat on, but you should still be conscious of your hygiene — maybe shower before the gym instead of waiting until after if it’s been a few days since your last shower. Go easy on perfumes and fragranced body products and be sure to launder your gym clothes regularly.
If you’re planning on working out on your own, it can be helpful to create a plan in advance. Do a little research at home and plan out what equipment you’ll want to use, what exercises you’ll do and even what music you’ll listen to.
A little bit of planning means you won’t waste time searching for the right song or wandering around not knowing what to do next. This saves you time at the gym and makes things more efficient for everyone, as you won’t be holding up others while you decide whether you still need the treadmill or not.
The gym is a shared space, so you want to be sure you’re being mindful of others when choosing your equipment. While you can certainly use the machines you need to use, make sure you’re not spending too much time on them. If you’ve been there for a while and someone seems to be waiting to use it, finish up that session and move on.
If the gym is relatively empty during your workout, feel free to use whatever you need and take as much time as you want. But if it starts filling up, try to be flexible with your routine. A towel draped over a piece of equipment serves as a “reserved” sign, so respect that if you see it. Feel free to reserve a piece of equipment if you need to step away for a few seconds, but don’t overdo it for a long break and expect your machine to be saved.
Part of good gym behavior includes leaving plenty of room for others around you. Be mindful of your surroundings as you work out, and don’t hover over other people while waiting to use the equipment. If there’s plenty of room and machines available, don’t choose the machine right next to someone else. Be polite by focusing on your own screen or equipment and don’t watch over someone else’s shoulder.
It’s also important to protect your own personal space while you’re at the gym. If you find yourself feeling unnecessarily crowded, don’t be afraid to speak up and ask others to move to give you some more space.
Many people go to the gym to focus on their own workout and don’t want to be distracted or disturbed. It’s considered proper gym etiquette to keep your voice down, not use excessive profanity and not talk on your cell phone while in the workout areas. If you’d like to listen to your own music, bring headphones.
One of the most important parts of gym etiquette is cleaning up after yourself. Many gyms provide towels and antibacterial wipes for you to use to clean up the equipment after use. You may also want to wipe down your equipment before use in case the last person didn’t clean up afterward. Neglecting to wipe the equipment is disrespectful and an inconvenience to others.
If your workout includes items like weights, exercise balls or other loose equipment, put it away where it belongs when you’re finished. Leaving pieces like this out can create a hazard for others in the gym and be an annoyance for others wanting to use it.
Group fitness classes are a great option at many gyms. If you choose to participate, be sure to show up on time. Arriving late is disrespectful to the teacher and may disrupt the rest of the class.
For quieter classes like relaxing yoga, it may be best to skip the class entirely if you’re running late. If it’s a loud, high-powered cardio class, you may be able to sneak in the back and still enjoy some of the class. Use your best judgment.
Gym etiquette is all about respect for others. Many gym-goers are focused and don’t care to stop to converse, so find the right moments if you have something to say. Don’t offer workout advice unless someone asks you for it. If you want to use a piece of equipment and it’s unclear if someone else is using it, ask first. Use common sense and always be respectful of others.
Understanding these gym etiquette tips is one step on your fitness journey. Making sure you join the right gym is another. With numerous personal and group fitness options, 5 Bridges Health & Fitness is your go-to option to achieve your fitness goals in the Harrisburg area. Ready to get started? Check out the membership plans at 5 Bridges Health & Fitness today!