Gym manners

Originally Published: February 28, 1997 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: August 5, 2011
Share this

Alice,

I'm looking for some helpful pointers you might have on the subject of health club etiquette (i.e., don't wear perfume because others will leave workout equipment wearing your perfume). I would appreciate anything you have to offer on the subject.

Thank you!

Dear Reader,

Working out the details of health club etiquette may cause some to break a sweat. Following some simple guidelines should set the pace for everyone to have an enjoyable gym experience and still gain the fabulous health benefits that come with exercising!

Starting in the locker room:

  • Exercise control when loading and unloading your gym bag and locker. Remember, you are in a locker room, not at a picnic, so refrain from spreading your towels, clothes, shoes, and toiletries all over the benches and floor around you.
  • In the name of prevention, pop on some extra deodorant before your workout begins. Even the freshest-smelling folks can have others reaching for their gas masks during a vigorous workout.
  • Before hitting the gym floor, wash your hands, and, yes, wipe off some of that cologne/perfume.

Moving on to your workout:

  • Do you have an extra towel with you? Wipe off aerobic equipment, free weights, weight machines, and mats after you use them — even if you don't sweat. Some gyms have disinfectant wipes for this purpose.
  • If you're a multi-set kinda gal or guy, glance around to see if someone else is waiting to use the machine or area you currently occupy. Offer to let them work in (alternate) with you, and if you're feeling particularly generous, ask if they'd like you to "spot" them.
  • Obey posted time limits on equipment to avoid long waits during high traffic times.
  • If you are waiting for equipment currently in use, don't hover! Give your fellow exerciser some space to move and breathe — you'd probably appreciate that same courtesy.
  • Put free-weights back in their proper place after you use them. Who wants to clean up after others or search high and low for equipment scattered far and wide?
  • Allow other people to focus. Distracting other gymrats with loud grunts, sing-a-longs with one's music, chatting on your cell phone, and social hours with friends and neighbors should be avoided.
  • Gyms and health clubs may be great places to meet that special someone. But if an object of your desire doesn't return your winks and smiles, take a hint: they are probably there to work out, not to hook up.
  • Finally, timeliness to classes, racquetball games, and training sessions not only gives you more exercise time, but also reduces back-ups and waiting time — helping the whole place run like a well-oiled stairclimber.

Often times, health clubs post their own set of rules or etiquette. If you are uncertain about your gym's specific policies or have concerns about fellow member's behavior, you may want to speak with the desk staff or management.  You'll also get a good sense of things simply by observing the patterns of most fellow gym-goers.  In the end, it is often about respect in a shared environment.

Here's to a good workout... and many more!

Alice