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The 5 Unwritten Rules of Gym Etiquette, Written by a Personal Trainer

unwritten rules of gym etiquette

Every gym has its own culture, but regardless of where you work out, there are a few unwritten rules you should always follow.  

Keeping gym etiquette in mind helps maintain a safe and supportive environment for everyone to exercise. 

Regardless of your fitness goals or experience, these are the key components of gym etiquette everyone should follow. 

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Re-rack Your Weights

When you’re done lifting, put your weights back. It’s that simple. If you used dumbbells, place them back on their rack. If you used plates and a barbell, put those back where you got them as well. 

Most racks are also organized by weight. There’s a place for 25-pound plates, 35-pound weights, 45-pound weights, and so on. Placing weights on the wrong spot is inconsiderate to the next person who needs to use them, especially if you use a heavy plate to block a lighter one. 

Wipe Down Your Equipment

Nobody wants to sit in someone else’s sweat puddle. 

Okay, maybe I shouldn’t say nobody. There’s something for everyone and I don’t want to yuck anybody’s yums. 

As a general rule though, the gym is a public space and it should be treated as such. Wipe down your equipment, especially if you’ve used a bench or a mat, regardless of if you’ve left a visible sweat mark or not. 

Avoid Taking Photos in the Locker Room if Others Are Around

Posing pics, pump pics, and progress pics are all part of the gym experience at this point. 

It should be said that you have no obligation to take pics, progress or otherwise, but some people find progress photos helpful as a motivation tool. 

No matter your reason for taking a photo though, always keep in mind that the locker room is a private space. People go there to use the restroom, change clothes, and shower. Even if you’re the focus of your photo, avoid taking a pic when others are visible in the background. Whether or not they’re clothed at the time, it’s an invasion of their privacy. 

If you’re on your own or in a position where nobody can be seen in the background, then you’re safe to take your pics– just make sure that if someone is in the room and off-screen that they know you’re not photographing them. 

Don’t Pressure Others to Leave Equipment Before They’re Finished

It’s one thing to politely ask someone how many sets they have left. It’s something else entirely to stand nearby, staring or tapping your foot. 

If someone is using a piece of equipment that you had planned on using, don’t pressure them to abandon it before they’re done. Sometimes you just have to wait your turn. 

This is especially important when the other person is new to your gym or in instances where a power dynamic is at play. Doing so can create a negative experience for the other person, and in some cases, it can make them feel unsafe. There are plenty of examples on TikTok and Instagram of women feeling unsafe at the gym because men are walking onto their platform while they’re lifting or otherwise invading their space while they’re trying to work out. 

As a rule of thumb, ask how many sets they have left, thank them when they answer, and then go do something else until they finish. 

Don’t Hog Equipment 

On the flip side of the above rule is another fair rule of thumb: don’t hog equipment. 

It’s totally fine to take your time and lift with proper form and to get in your target rep and set counts. Taking your time or just being a little slow with your lifting isn’t what I’m talking about. 

Instead, equipment hogging– or camping out, as some folks call it– is when you sit at a piece of equipment without using it for an extended period of time. 

For example, if you complete one set and then sit at the piece of equipment you’re using while scrolling TikTok for 10 minutes, that’s an unnecessarily long amount of time to occupy equipment that someone else could be using. The same goes for when you’re at the gym with friends or workout partners and decide to sit on an open bench to talk or rest for an extended period of time without using it. 

If you’re not actively using a piece of equipment, don’t prevent others from using it. 


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