Recently, I polled some of my fellow personal trainers in Edmonton and experienced gym goers to see what they considered to be the must-know “unwritten” rules of the gym.  So today, I wanted to walk through some very simple, yet very important rules of the gym to help you become a great gym member.

Welcome to Gym Etiquette 101

1. Wear Clean Shoes

Gym Etiquette starts as soon as you walk in the gym. It’s extremely off putting to see a trail of mud and dirt tracked into the gym then smeared across different machines. It’s disrespectful to the gym, and the gym staff that have to clean it up. Have a clean pair of indoor shoes for the gym to keep a nice clean facility for everyone to enjoy.

2. Wipe Down Your Equipment

Like washing your hands after using the bathroom, this should be a mandatory rule at the gym every time you use a piece of equipment. However you’d be surprised how few do this. No one else wants to share your germs or bacteria from your sweat. Take the few seconds post set to spray and wipe down your equipment with disinfecting spray. If your gym doesn’t have any – make sure to talk to the front desk or e-mail the owner to get on it, because that’s nasty!

3. Put equipment away

Like putting your shopping cart away at the grocery store, putting your equipment away at the gym it is a test to see if you will do what is right without being forced to do it (look up The Shopping Cart Theory for more). Yes, the staff can put it away if people forget, but they shouldn’t have to clean up after you like a small child. It’s good gym etiquette to put your equipment away where you found it, so other can use it in a timely manner.

4. Don’t Smell

It doesn’t matter if it’s good or bad, people shouldn’t be able to smell you as you walk by them in the gym. Whether it’s body odor or strong perfume, we want to avoid having excessive smells. Using deodorant is a must, but avoid using perfumes or body spray until after your workouts. Also – while Marijuana is legal in many places, it’s good gym etiquette to not smell like you just hot boxed a car with Cheech and Chong.

5. Mind the space around you

Being spatially aware around the gym is an important attribute. Being aware of high traffic areas, other patrons nearby, or personal belongings around pieces of equipment are all an important part of maintaining good gym etiquette.

Avoid setting up our workouts in high traffic areas like directly in front of the dumbbell rack, in front of a water fountain, or in main pathways around the gym. We also want to be mindful of where other people are currently training. Giving people a decent distance around their workout space isn’t just polite, it’s a way to stay safe in the gym.

Lastly on this point, if you notice that there is a personal belonging beside a piece of gym equipment there is a good chance someone else is using it. A quick ask around if anyone is using it, or if they’ve seen anyone use it recently is a good way to ensure you’re not going to take a piece of equipment someone might be using. Of course, you can always ask to work-in with someone if you need to use the equipment… which brings me to my next point

6. Don’t Hoard Equipment

The gym is a shared space – everyone paid their membership fees and deserves to use the equipment equally. Which is why it’s good gym etiquette to not hoard it. There are two ways people can hoard equipment – with duration or with the amount.

Duration – When using a piece of equipment, we want to be mindful with how long we are using it for. Some gyms have limited number of machines, dumbbells, and squat racks, which makes peak hours a bit of a nightmare to find what you need. The worst thing you can see when your waiting for the equipment is someone sitting on their phone for 5 minutes. I’m not saying speed through your workout by any means, but be mindful of how long you’re using pieces of equipment, and be open to sharing during your rest breaks

Amount – If you need 5 different machines, and three different sets of dumbbells to complete a set of exercises, you may want to consider re-adjusting your program. Having half a rack of dumbbells surrounding your bench is never a good look, especially when others come looking for weights to use. Be mindful of how much equipment is being used at one time during a workout.

7. Avoid Excessive noise

The gym isn’t a library. There’s going to be loud noises. There’s going to be some grunts/groans, and weights slamming to the ground every now and then. However, there’s “working out” sounds and then there are people who are excessively loud. Yelling before reps and throwing dumbbells/barbells on the ground post set as hard as possible are simply unnecessary and bad gym etiquette.

Also keep in mind, if you left your headphones at home, don’t start playing your own music/podcast/YouTube videos out loud for everyone to hear. The last consideration to remember is if you need to take a call, leave the gym floor as you take the call. Your private conversations should remain private.

8. Gym Etiquette for Filming your workout

This is a relatively new issue that’s popped up in gym with the rise of social media – however there are some points people should always follow.

Never take photos in the change room. This is a private area where people should feel comfortable to get changed or use the washroom in peace.

Avoid capturing others in your videos as much as possible – and never film someone else intentionally without permission

Be aware you’re in a public place, which means there’s a good chance some people won’t notice you’re recording a video and may walk in front of the camera. Getting mad at these people is inappropriate.

If you are recording, don’t set up your camera in a main walkway, or on equipment when the gym is busy.


Don’t Be a Dick

As an Edmonton Personal Trainer, I feel like this is a great rule for life. Simply put, don’t be a dick.

Treat others the way you would want to be treated and be respectful to the people around you. This goes for the facility as well, take care of it as you would your own home or at least try to leave it a little more clean than you left it. It just makes for good gym etiquette and makes the gym a better place to be.

If you want more information just like this delivered directly to your inbox to get you the best possible results at the gym CLICK HERE to subscribe to the RK Athletics Newsletter. If you’re new to the gym and you’re looking at some simple things to focus on to get started, check out my blog 5 Areas To Focus On For Your Fitness Goals