General Gym Etiquette

Here are some basic gym etiquette guidelines from Dr. Christine Ren-Fielding to help you fit right in at the gym. This is a great introduction to the gym before you make your first trip.

Gym Etiquette For Every Trip

We’ve broken down the advice here. Learn about expectations and general behavior for the gym and you’ll love it in no time!

Mind Your Manners

  • Get off your phone. Smartphones are convenient. But they are also terribly distracting. Just like smartphones have made us take forever at restaurants, they are disruptive at the gym. Dr. Christine Ren-Fielding understands that it’s nice to have a phone for music but try to avoid being one of those people who sits on a machine or bench chatting away while taking up space. And FaceTime at the gym? Just say no.
  • Save flirting for happy hour. The gym is a great place to meet people who are also interested in their health and fitness and nothing beats an accountability partner. And who knows, you may even find love. That said, never approach someone with the intention of flirting at the gym. Not only is it not the place, but many of us leave our wedding rings at home!

Hygiene Counts

  • It’s okay to stink naturally. Sweating causes odor and you might be a little stinky once your workout is in swing. Using deodorant or antiperspirant is appreciated by everyone but everyone understands that a little BO is going to happen.
  • It’s not okay to stink unnaturally. From body spray and perfume to the funk of twice-worn gym clothes some smells are not okay at the gym. All gym clothes should be worn once and then washed. Fresh socks and undies each time are a must! If you have naturally stinky feet make sure to bring fresh socks rather than wearing your sweaty ones home.
  • Smoke away from the entrance. Dr. Christine Ren-Fielding hopes you’ve already kicked the habit but if you’re not quite there be sure to keep smoking far, far away from other gym members. Don’t smoke outside the entrance and check if your gym has banned smoking on the property. Many have. Also, talk to your doctor about starting a smoking cessation plan — many are covered by insurance.

You’re Not Alone

  • Ask questions. If you’re not sure how to use a machine, can’t find the machine or equipment you need, or can’t reach something, just ask. Gym staff and even other members are always eager to help out a newcomer. This welcoming attitude is often surprising to many new to the gym but one of the reasons so many people come back.
  • Accept suggestions. There are people who want to be your “trainer” and you are free to decline their offers (they should not be soliciting at the gym), but hear out someone who approaches you at the gym. Recently a patient shared this information.

“The workout plan I follow includes Arnold Dumbbell Presses. I do them a few times a week and noticed my shoulders had some pain and were making noise. I’ve never had shoulder trouble. A man approached me and said, ‘Hey. I used to do Arnold presses like that and ended up hurting my shoulder.’ He showed me how his physical therapist taught him to do the move. I thanked him and incorporated it and, wouldn’t you know it, when looking online later I found several reputable articles that said the range of motion was incorrect in the way I had been doing it. All corrected it to the way the man at the gym suggested.”

  • Dress appropriately. You should dress in a way that supports your workout. Athletic shorts or leggings and a wicking top are best. Believe the saying that “cotton is rotten.” Cotton absorbs sweat and chafes quickly so avoid it at all costs. You generally want to dress for 5-10 warmer than it is inside so that as you warm up you’re not too hot. Dr. Christine Ren-Fielding recommends layers. Some gyms, like planet fitness, have a dress code. If you’re a member of a gym with a dress code follow it. Staff doesn’t want to have the conversation.

Start Working Out

First, understanding gym etiquette will help you and your fellow members feel much more comfortable at the gym. The gym should be a fun place where you get in a workout, learn about exercise, watch your health improve and meet other people with similar goals. Dr. Christine Ren-Fielding knows it can be daunting but this advice should help you feel like a pro in no time. Next, check out posts on specific gym etiquette:

Bookmark these posts for reminders or as future reads as you learn about new workouts and parts of your gym.

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