Gym Etiquette For Beginners

Jan 14, 2017

Are you planning to start a fitness routine? The gym is a great place to start, and it gives you a lot of workout options regardless of your fitness level. However, it can be a bit intimidating, especially if you’re a beginner.

Since the gym is a public space which is shared by people with similar goals you really have nothing to be afraid of, and as long as you respect other members and know the do’s and don’ts when using the gym it will be a great place to make new friends.

So to help you along on your fitness journey, here’s a useful guide for first-timers and a helpful reminder for gym veterans.

Some general reminders

  • Wear proper gym attire. Avoid wearing clothing that may cause you harm such as slippers or those that can cause distraction because they’re too revealing.
  • Give people their personal space. If there are 5 treadmills available, don’t use the one right next to the only person doing their cardio. Observe the weights area before setting up your workout spot as some exercises my require more space than others.
  • Avoid staring into a class or at other members. Staring is not cool no matter how you do it. It is distracting and leaves a bad impression.
  • Be sensitive about approaching people who are busy working out. You might have spoken to them before, but if they are busy at the moment it may not be a good time to mingle.
  • Let people do their own thing. Don’t go around telling people they’re doing something wrong. If you are really concerned about someone’s safety, ask a gym instructor to observe and advise them.
  • Wear headphones if you want to play your own music. The gym is a public space and not everyone will want to listen to your personal playlist. 
  • Respect other people who are watching television or listening to music. Other gyms allow the members to change channels but if you’re not the first one in, someone else might have requested it. In addition, there are rules on which channels you can watch on the gym television so be considerate of whether what you’re watching is appropriate for all ages.
  • Move to a private place if you need to take a call. Avoid distracting other people during their workouts by finding a suitable place to talk on the phone.
  • Keep selfies to a minimum. Gym mirrors are for form and safety. Unless you’re alone, don’t be that guy who flexes and takes a photo of every angle of his body.
  • Use the treadmills within reason on peak hours. A lot of people start their workout with cardio so be considerate by not doing long periods of cardio during peak hours if there aren’t any cardio machines open.
  • Eat your meals before or after entering the gym. We understand that you need your “gains” but if it is a full meal instead of a snack bar or protein shake, we don’t want to get a whiff of it during our sets.
  • Have your longer chats at the lounge or outside the gym. This depends on the type of gym you’re in. Some gyms provide lounges for you to hang out in while other gyms prefer that you only stay briefly after your workout.
  • Keep your things organized and off the benches or the floor. Gym benches are for exercises - not for you to relax on and definitely not to hold your things. Keep the floor clear of anything to avoid others from tripping over your stuff.

Things to remember when in the weights area

  • Put the weights back when you’re done. It is nobody else’s job to follow everyone around to return equipment they have finished using. This is also for safety and courtesy to other members.
  • Wait patiently as other people are doing their sets. If you need specific equipment and someone else is using it, you may politely ask how many sets they have left. Don’t pressure anyone by standing too close and watching them like a hawk.
  • Offer other people to “work in with you” if they want to use the equipment too. If you’re comfortable with it, offer another person to work in intervals with you. Instead of making someone wait for your workout to finish, have them use it when you rest in between sets.
  • Thank people who offer to spot you. They just want to help as they might have been in the same position before. Instead of thinking that you have been judged as a newbie, take it as an opportunity to safely push yourself and perfect your form.
  • Be honest enough to tell if you’re not familiar with your surroundings. Approach an instructor if you need assistance with equipment or you need specific workout instruction. More importantly, be honest if someone asks you to spot for them and you’ve never done it before - they can teach you how to do it if you’re willing and able.
  • Wipe down equipment after using it. You wouldn’t want to use a sweaty bench so always bring a towel to wipe your sweat. Usually, gyms provide sanitizing sprays and rags for wiping down equipment.
  • Get in and out – don’t sit on the equipment forever. Nobody likes someone who sits - and uses his phone - on equipment for 2 hours. Do your sets, with the proper rest periods, then let someone else use it.
  • Respect anyone who’s using equipment. Equipment use is on a first come, first serve basis so don’t act like a certain treadmill is your property every 8PM on weeknights.

Things to remember when attending a group class

  • Tell the instructor before class if you’re new, have an injury or, any limiting condition. This is better instead of looking like a total complainer throughout class. Your group instructor is always willing to modify exercises for beginners, as well as for those who have special conditions.
  • Follow the instructor as they lead the class. Even if it’s a class you’re particularly good at, avoid acting like a diva and doing your own thing. Go with the flow instead of showing off.
  • Make sure everyone can see themselves in the mirror. Proper spacing is key for everyone - including the instructor - to see how they perform exercises. Be keen enough to avoid blocking anyone behind you.
  • Show up on time and leave after the class is finished. Be polite and avoid distracting your instructor and fellow attendees. Avoid coming in late so the instructions don’t have to be repeated for you.
  • Turn off your mobile phone notifications. A beeping or even a vibrating phone can cause a lot of distraction especially for a silent yoga or meditation class. If you really need to take a call or reply to a text, you may leave the studio briefly.

Things to remember for hygiene and shower use

  • Put hygiene first. Bring a towel and a change of clothes and make sure to deal with any body odors properly. Avoid masking any smell with cologne as this usually makes it worse.
  • Keep grooming activities at home. Avoid shaving or putting on makeup in the gym bathroom. It can leave the bathroom a mess for everyone else after you.
  • Leave the showers as you found them. Try to keep the water in the shower area by closing the dividers or shower curtains. Put the shower heads back in place and throw away empty sachets of shampoo or soap.
  • Avoid smoking anywhere in the gym. It is pretty straightforward that the gym is a place where people go to be fit and healthy. It’s common sense to not smoke within or anywhere near the entrances.
  • Take everything from the locker when you leave. Throw away any trash in the proper containers. When you empty your locker, take out everything including all litter.


Everyone can “fit-in” within the gym setting as long as they know basic discipline and are polite to other members.

If you are cool enough to clean as you go, respect everyone’s personal space, and have good hygiene, then you are ready to be part of the gym community.



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