Please, Mind Your Gym Manners

fitlifeDid you make a commitment this year to exercise regularly? Whether you are a novice or regular exerciser, making a lifestyle change can be challenging. Joining a health club or gym is the most effective environment to begin or continue your journey towards your health and fitness goals because you have access to a variety of fitness resources such group exercise classes, free weights, workout machines, and personal trainers. At the same time, it can be an intimidating experience. Typically, gyms clearly state their etiquette policies in their membership forms and on the gym floor, which are signed as an agreement to appropriate gym behavior. As a friendly reminder, below are a few fitness etiquette tips that promote a pleasant workout environment for you, other members, and the fitness staff.

Most gyms require a dress code to ensure people wear proper gym attire. Whether you are a novice or regular exerciser, update your workout apparel and replace your cotton workout gear, which absorbs sweat and odor. Modern technology allows apparel companies to engineer and produce apparel made with a blend of materials that move moisture away from the skin, keeping you cool and dry, and prevents accumulation of the bacteria that can lead to offensive smells. You do not have to overspend on name brands, but remember to choose clothing that offers adequate body coverage. The reason for this is to minimize the feeling of either distracting or intimidating others members. Some examples of apparel companies and their moisture wicking technology include Nike Dri-FIT, Adidas Climacool, and C9 by Champion Duo Dry (found at Target).

In addition to apparel, it is important to wear proper workout or training shoes. Biomechanical research allows footwear companies to produce activity specific shoes. For example, Adidas, Nike, and Reebok produce shoes designed specifically for weight lifting. Not only do they protect your feet, but unlike traditional sneakers, they are engineered with stability in mind to help train balance. For group exercise classes, invest in a pair of training shoes, or “cross-trainers,” rather than wearing your running shoes because training shoes offer more ankle support for multi-directional movements. Similar to when choosing apparel, choose footwear designed with breathability and moisture management.

Now that we’ve discussed proper gym attire, let us remind ourselves to step away from our cell phones while you are in the gym. Yes, modern technology has allowed us to use our cell phones to listen to music, which is fine – but think of your workout session as your time to be disconnected from your device and focus on your well-being. As a courtesy to other members, if you must use your cell phone to make a call, step into the lobby or a hallway. The reason for this is because cell phones can be disruptive with their loud ringtones, extensive conversations, and even camera phones – especially in a group exercise class.

Group exercise classes offer a social aspect to workouts. Many people enjoy the camaraderie and friendly competition of working out with others, giving participants the opportunity to make new friends and keep each other motivated – a great tool for accountability. When taking group exercise classes, it is courteous to other participants and the instructor to be on time for class. Like cellphones, tardiness is disruptive. Even if it is your first time taking a class, and you feel intimidated, rather than showing up late, make an effort to show up early for class and introduce yourself to the instructor. A good instructor will make sure you feel comfortable and offer exercise modifications or progressions as needed because it is in their best interest that everyone is challenged but still has a good time. In addition, it is important to show up on time so that you do not miss any dynamic warm-up exercises, which are beneficial in preventing injuries.

Lastly, on the gym floor, always carry a towel to wipe your sweat from equipment and machines. Some gyms offer towel service, gym wipes, and/or disinfectant spray for the equipment – use them to clean up when you are finished. Also, when you are finished with your workout, remember to re-rack your weights and return dumbbells, resistance bands, or other small equipment, which are a tripping hazard if left on the floor. Wiping down and returning equipment after use helps maintain the cleanliness and safety in your gym. Other members as well as the fitness staff will appreciate it.

As a friendly reminder, the fitness staff enforces these gym etiquette policies for courtesy, health reasons, and long-term member retention purposes. There will be some individuals that bend the rules, but the success of a gym’s etiquette policies can be a determining factor when choosing the right fitness center for you.

Applebaum, V. (2009, July 9). 12 Rules of Gym Etiquette. Retrieved March 11, 2015, from
Beattie, L. (2016, September 26). Proper Gym Etiquette. Retrieved March 26, 2015, from
McCall, P. (2013, December 2). 7 Tips to Avoid Looking Like a Newbie at the Gym. Retrieved March 11, 2015, from

About the Author
John de Guzman
John received his degree in Kinesiology (BS) from San Francisco State University and is an American Council on Exercise (ACE) certified personal trainer. His passion is running, and he recently ran his 5th full marathon at the 2015 Asics LA Marathon. He enjoys implementing his knowledge of fitness training and passion for running to develop innovative programming to challenge and inspire his clients. Weekends are spent honing his skills in the kitchen and on the grill.

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