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Gym etiquette 101: the rules you need to follow

Awesometastic! You’ve started on your new fitness kick and made your way to the gym! Okay, so apart from a few sore muscles, hopefully you’ll ease into this new gig and it won’t be too painful. It should be lots of fun: you’ll be working out, getting fit, meeting new peeps and doing something that makes you feel great. But if you want to be a winner in the popularity stakes – or just be nice to be around (instead of, well, not so nice), here are some proper gym etiquette rules.

Basic gym etiquette – smell nice

Want to have a chance at popularity? Wash. Wear deodorant and clean clothes. You will be so much nicer to be around. Truly, this is the most important of the personal gym rules. No one wants to work out next to someone that smells like an 18-year-old’s sweaty, unwashed T-shirt. You know, the type that’s been left in his locker for two weeks. Stay clean. Just saying.

Turn your mobile phone off

Turn your mobile phone off in the gym - Sage Institute of FitnessUnless someone is about to die or give birth, and it’s kind of essential you know about it, turn your phone off. As interesting as your life may seem, we don’t care about what you’re organising for dinner, or what your mates did last Friday night when you were at the gym – with us.

Dress appropriately

Wondering how to dress at the gym? Appropriately, is the answer you’ll be looking for.  You’ll be bending, stretching, and lifting body parts in all directions, so have a little think about modesty for your sake – and for the sake of others. Too much visual information is too much visual information, okay? It’s a gym, not a junkyard.

Here are a couple of no-nos to make sure you follow gym etiquette when it comes to attire. A big ‘No’ to:

  • open toed footwear
  • stockings in the guise of leggings
  • shirtless
  • too much flesh generally
  • really loose shorts
  • underwear on display
  • clothes with holes or stains

Not cool.

You are not the instructor

Unless you’ve qualified as a Sage fitness instructor – and you are being paid to be on the floor – don’t give unsolicited advice at the gym. It’s not your place and it’s one of the unwritten gym rules. Now, this can be hard because sometimes you might want to scream, “What are you doing?!” But remember it’s not your job and your advice could be taken the wrong way. If someone is doing something that seriously looks dangerous, contact a staff member quickly and quietly let them know. This is sound gym etiquette.

Just remind yourself, the world is full of people doing crazy things. Whatever. Back to your workout!

No staring at the spunky people

It’s creepy. And, it makes people uncomfortable. Just don’t. Unless someone is clearly putting on a show and they’re pumped and preening, because they tend to like that a lot. But generally speaking, behave yourself – the gym is no place for pick up lines. It’s another of those secret unspoken gym rules. (Okay, if you have to, take a quick look through the mirrors. Then stop it already).

Don’t get too friendly

Go slowly with your social work out at the gym. Yes, the gym is a great place to meet people and develop new pals, but let your friendships grow organically. Remember, most people are at the gym to get fit. There’s nothing more annoying than being hit by an enthusiastic gas-bag while you’re trying to have a little quality ‘me time’.

If you want to talk to someone, smile at them, exchange a couple of words and leave it there. If your potential new buddy wants to return the favour, let them. After all, conversation is a two-way street. And if they start up a convo, that’s great. A new friendship has been born!

BONUS TIP: don’t try and strike up a conversation with someone wearing headphones. They don’t want to talk to you, or anyone else.

Quit the noises

This gym etiquette rule is especially for all you big men out there. We know you’re totes tough, but there’s no need to sound like someone’s hacking off your big toe with a blunt knife every time you lift. Think of others, dude. We feel pain, too, and we don’t want it to be from listening to you.

Keep your ego in check

Unless you own a gym, don’t walk around pretending that you do. This means no looking at people like they’re trespassing, or not good enough to be there – really not good gym etiquette.

Group classes: fill the space

False coyness does no one any good. When joining a group class, don’t clog up the back of the room for fear of looking big headed at the front. Move down. Fill up the room. Let people at the back breathe. If you’re feeling shy, remember, no one cares how you move or what you do – they’re too interested in themselves. (Unless you’re really bad – and in that case, we’ll thank you for the free entertainment. Cheers!)

Clean up after yourself – another gym etiquette rule!

OK, this is NOT one of those funny gym rules. Spray bottles and paper towels are placed in the gym to be used by everyone, which means even special snowflakes like you. Remember your germs are no different to everybody else’s.

Don’t be an equipment hog

Don't be an equipment hog - Sage Institute of FitnessStay on any piece of equipment for the appropriate time only, then move on. Don’t sit there and recover, redo your hair, chug back some water or get out your mobile phone. The bench press is not a place to update your Facebook status, bro. When it comes to the treadmill, if you can do more than an hour, it may be time to consider going outside for a run, or take a hike – before someone asks you to!

Sage Institute of Fitness – it’s more than a job, it’s a rewarding career.

Vicki Tuchtan

Vicki Tuchtan

Vicki Tuchtan is the Academic Director at Sage Institute of Education. She oversees learning processes, teaching outcomes, resources and course development. A passionate advocate for bettering standards of training in Australia, she is currently writing her PhD thesis on defining quality training in the Australian vocational education sector.
Vicki Tuchtan

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