Top 10 Gym Etiquette Tips You Need To Know

Written by Jamie Susino

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January 12, 2023

Happy New Year! In case you haven’t noticed, the gym gets very busy this time of year as people approach the new year with a fresh start, fresh goals, or even a fresh attitude. You may be a seasoned veteran here at NexT Fit Clubs or you may be brand new. Either way, we want to make sure we can maintain a safe and efficient environment as well as a wonderfully supportive community here at the club! Part of doing that involves everyone knowing proper gym etiquette.

Some of the following are standard and well-known guidelines at most gyms and some are unspoken rules within the lifting community. If you already know them, it’s always worth a refresher so you can be sure to put them into practice. If you’re new to the gym lifestyle, this will be great information to know!

1. Clean Up, Clean Up, Everybody Do Your Share… Yes, Really.

This should go without saying, but make sure when you’re done with a machine, rack, area, etc you clean up! This involves putting equipment away, wiping up sweat, throwing out used wipes, and generally making sure you didn’t leave anything behind. Oftentimes, we find foam rollers on the turf when they should be placed back into the studio or bands lying around on the floor when they should be placed back the hook in the turf area. If you’re unsure of where something belongs, feel free to ask a staff member for some assistance!

2. Re-rack Your Weights

While this is technically categorized under #1, this deserves its own section. If you’re using a machine, the weights should be unloaded when you’re done. Even if there were weights already left on the machine when you got to it, try to be considerate and return them to the nearest weight tree! This lets everyone know that you’re no longer using the equipment. Make sure you’re putting the weights back where they belong. Dumbbells should generally be in weight order (lightest to heaviest; left to right and top to bottom) and weight trees generally go top down (5s, 10s, 25s on one side; 25s and 45s on the other)

Pro tip: If you’re re-racking weights on the fixed benches (flat, incline, decline, etc) there are labels to help you out.

3. Spatial Awareness

There are a lot of things that can be considered under this category but in general, be aware of your surroundings. Are you taking up a lot of space or pieces of equipment during a busy time? Are you impeding on someone else’s personal space? Are you sitting on a bench while you’re in between sets that someone else is trying to use? AND PLEASE – step away from the dumbbell rack after you’ve acquired your weights. We love to see our muscles work in the mirror but if you’re standing in the way, it’s hard for anyone else to maneuver their way to grab or replace weights at the rack. These are all things you should think about when you’re setting up for any piece of your workout.

The other aspect of spatial awareness is to be aware of not only your workout, but what your fellow gymgoers are also doing. This is both for the respect of others as well as safety. If someone is benching some heavy dumbbells and you walk within a close range as they are releasing their weights to the ground, you may be in the danger zone. Do your best not to walk directly in front of someone else that is lifting heavy weights – especially if they are doing a dynamic movement such as a barbell clean or snatch where they may be dropping the barbell from overhead. Not only can this lead to an unnecessary accident, but it’s also very difficult to focus when someone is in close proximity or in your line of sight while you’re trying to perform a deadlift.

4. Social Awareness

         It’s also important to be SOCIALLY aware. We are an awesome and social community. There are lots of friends here, old and new. We like to have a good time and chat when we have the time. The key is to pick up on social cues so you’re not impeding on someone else’s workout. Polite conversation is totally fine – encouraged, even! But if someone puts their ear buds in or is seemingly keeping the convo short, take a social cue! They may not want to be bothered or they may not have time to chat during their workout. Maybe they’re trying to maintain a certain level of intensity or they need to focus. Working out is fun, but being respectful of others is imperative.

5. Sharing is Caring

Many people like to superset (two exercises performed back to back) or spend a lot of time using one machine. This is all good and dandy when you come in during quieter hours, but if you’re here during any peak gym times you should be prepared to share some of the more popular machines or be as efficient as possible so that others have a turn. You might have someone approach you to ask “Can I work in?” which means while you’re resting between sets, they’d like to jump in. It’s perfectly okay to politely decline, but make sure you’re as quick as possible to get through your workout without dilly-dallying. For example, you might tell them you only have one more quick set, and then it’s all theirs. This means no scrolling Instagram between sets or talking to your friends.

6. Asking For A Spot

If you’re unsure about a weight you’re about to lift, you may at some point ask for a “lift” (assist the bar off the rack for bench press) or a “spot” (someone to help out if you happen to fail). This is a great way to be safe about weight lifting at the gym, however, it’s important to also be respectful of others. Monopolizing someone else’s time during their training hour can be considered rude. Be courteous of everyone else’s time. They may only have an hour to get their gym session done or they may be adhering to specifically planned rest times. You’re interrupting their workout and taking some of their focus/energy. It’s okay to ask someone every once in a while, but if you need a spot multiple times during a session, try to ask a few different people. A member of our training staff may be available if they’re not with a client or one of our front desk associates may be available to help you out!

7. Pics and Videos

If you didn’t post it on Instagram, does your workout even count? (It totally does!) We love a good gym selfie and taking a video to check form is a super helpful tool. It can also be very invasive to your fellow gym-goers. Be respectful to those around you who may not want to see themselves on your social media account. Try to set up your camera out of a high traffic area. Be super conscious of your surroundings (especially in the locker room!!) that not everyone wants to be Instagram famous. Maybe you’re feeling yourself and love your workout outfit or have a great arm pump to show off. We say go for it! Just make sure you have the area to yourself before you pop a pose, snap a pic, and tag us on Instagram (we’ll be happy to repost!)

8. Barbell 101

You’re learning to lift with a barbell! Awesome. We’re so proud and happy for you. Here are some key pieces of gym etiquette to know.

  • Be sure your weight is evenly distributed on the barbell. While some machines are okay to be loaded unevenly, a barbell must be balanced! (If you have a 10 lb weight on the left, there must also be a 10 lb weight on the right)

  • Use Bumpers! Doing anything that involves the barbell on the floor? Those black rubber weights are used to protect the floor and weights during deadlifts, cleans, snatches, pendlay rows, etc.

  • Don’t drop an empty barbell. Due to the lack of shock absorption, this could break the bearings and damage the bar.

Use barbell clips! We have some brand new bright green (easy to find) barbell clips to keep the weight secure. This ensures you’re moving weight evenly and that nothing flies off the bar putting yourself or others at risk for injury.

9. Respect the Space

        This should apply to behavior in any public area, but please respect the space. This includes people (both staff and members), equipment, the property, etc. Let the staff know of any issues (broken items, wipes/paper towels empty) and make it a positive environment for everyone to train in. Just be cool and keep it classy. Take care of the gym and each other.

10. BE KIND

Though this is last on the list, it is possibly the most important. Be kind to each other. The gym can be intimidating and lonely when you’re just starting out. Smile at someone. Communicate. Be encouraging. Offer help if someone wants it. (Note: not unsolicited advice, but ask permission to give a tip or to assist) We all feel a little self-conscious at some point during our fitness journeys. Do your best to help someone else feel more comfortable or confident about themselves and their gym community. We are all at different levels, stages, phases, etc. Be supportive and courteous of anyone who has the bravery and guts to walk through the doors to better themselves.

We hope you found these tips to be useful. Please be sure to share them with your gym buddies!

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