Gym etiquette: 7 ways to rock the gym

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia (

Visiting the gym at a hotel spa or wellness resort?

Contributing health and spa writer Sheryl Kraft offers some advice about gym etiquette and “doing the right thing.”

As a health writer and enthusiast, I’ve had the pleasure of visiting some of the top wellness destinations in the country: Canyon Ranch, Miraval, Golden Door, Pritikin, Red Mountain, Woodloch and others. They’re all dedicated to enhancing visitors’ health, wellness, fitness and nutrition.

Every time I visit a spa, I come away with a new level of awareness and renewed respect for my health. An early-morning hike when the sun is just beginning to rise fills me with hope and vigor. A cooking lesson in the art of grains teaches me to expand my boring culinary repertoire; a supervised workout at the gym gives me some new ideas to take home.

But the observer in me can’t help but notice a few things about the gym—be it a gym at a spa or even in my neighborhood.

There are people who distract me with their lack of respect, or what’s more popularly known as “gym etiquette.” After all, a gym is a shared space; a community of sorts. And we all need to work together to keep it functioning at its best.

The rules are not posted on the walls. They’re not in the contract you might sign or the reservations you might make. In your defense, maybe you don’t know them. It’s possible you might not even be aware that you’re doing anything wrong.

So here’s my chance to air my grievances to “that” person and at the same time, offer you the opportunity to “do the right thing.”

1)  Please lay a towel down on the machine before you lay your sweaty body on it. There’s nothing grosser than sitting down on a machine in someone else’s sweat. Or, for that matter, having to clean up after them. On the same topic, it would be really nice if you wiped down the handrails on the elliptical or bike after your palms have sweated all over it. (Same goes for the drops of sweat you’ve deposited along the way.)

2)  Don’t be a hog. If the gym is empty, it’s one thing to keep a bunch of free weights around you when you want to switch off, or stay at a machine to do multiple repetitions of an exercise. But if the gym is crowded, please be considerate of other people who might want to use the 10-pound hand weights—but can’t find them because they’re sitting in a pile somewhere else (like in your private pile). The same goes for resting on a machine between sets (I’ve seen people sitting and reading magazines or checking their emails while I patiently stand by). At the very least, invite the other person to “work in” between your sets.

3)  After you’ve used the weights, please put them back where they belong (the racks are labeled for a reason). I almost tripped over a set of weights that someone left on the floor yesterday at my gym. If you’re strong enough to lift them, aren’t you strong enough to put them away? And please don’t put the 8-pound weights into the slot that holds the 20-pound weights. That can get really annoying – and confusing.

4)  Hold your calls. It’s not only annoying but also distracting to be on the elliptical and have the person next to you yakking away on their cellphone. Same goes for the locker room, where it’s nice to maintain a certain sense of Zen. If the call can’t wait, just take it somewhere more private.

5)  If you’re listening to music on your headphones, please keep it private. I, too, can get carried away with a great inspiring workout tune, but no one really wants to hear you belt it out along with the person who has the good voice.

6)  After you’ve taken a shower, would you mind taking your hair with you? Walking into a shower with a wad of hair stuck in the drain is just…disgusting. Same goes for your used razor. AND your wet towel.

7)  When you stand at the mirror with the blow dryer, and then apply your makeup, please be aware that you’re not at home and that there might be people waiting their turn. Do you really have to be photo-shoot ready while my hair frizzes waiting my turn? And then when I finally get there (if I don’t give up and walk away), I’d rather not have to deal with your loose strands of hair or makeup remains smeared on the counter.

Pardon me if I sound a bit cranky, but now that I’ve gotten this all off my chest, I must say that I’m feeling more energized and ready to take on my next workout.

Do you have any pet peeves about behavior in the gym?

Similar Posts

One Comment

  1. #8. It’s rude to put your stuff on a piece of equipment to reserve it while you’re still using another. Share the equipment!

    #9. Don’t leave your bag of toiletries outside a shower while you’re in the gym doing your workout, giving the appearance that the shower is occupied.

    #10. Re #4, if you must, and you’re much too important to walk off the workout floor to take your call, no need to scream into your phone.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *