16 Things to Never Do at the Gym
Gym culture has an etiquette all its own—brush up on the things never to do at the gym before you offend someone holding a 300-pound barbell.
Don’t leave a mess behind
So, you need a mat, Bosu ball, an assortment of free weights, a foam roller, an incline bench, and a few kettlebells to complete your workout? Great—but when you’re done, remember the cardinal rule of any gym. “At the end of your workout, or as you’re done with each piece of equipment, put everything back,” says Dawn Bartolini, a lifestyle and weight-loss coach (who happens to have lost more than 100 pounds). “Your mama doesn’t work here!” On that note, put everything back where it belongs, not where it’s convenient. If you haven’t yet joined a gym, check out these 9 insider secrets to save money on gym memberships.
Don’t grunt the entire time
Look, we get it: You’re lifting sooo much weight. But no one is impressed: “Lifting heavy weights is hard, but if you’re grunting on every single set—you’re a tool,” says James Shapiro, an NYC-based NASM-certified trainer. “No one is impressed, you’re awarded no points, and no one will talk to you. Please relearn how to breathe properly, which will also help you make greater increases in strength and lean muscle.”
Don’t make the locker room public
There’s really no need to catch up with your boyfriend on video chat while you’re touching up your makeup in the locker room. Please move this to the top of your list of things to never do at the gym, says Eve Dawes, a NASM-certified trainer, and yoga, spin, and Zumba instructor. “Do not FaceTime in the locker room. We are trying to shower and get changed, not be part of a peep show.” And while we’re on the subject, here’s how bad it is to wear makeup at the gym.
Don’t set up camp by the weight rack
There’s an unspoken “no-lift zone” in every gym, and it’s called the weight rack. In fact, consider five feet all around the weight rack off limits for your workout. “If you start a set of bicep curls while standing right in front of the rack, you block the entire gym from accessing the weights,” says Dani Singer, a certified personal trainer. “Grab the weights you need, and find an open spot on the weight floor to perform your workout. Stay out of the weight rack area, unless you’re grabbing or returning your weights.”
Don’t praise a stranger’s progress
Just as you would never assume a woman is pregnant, you should never offer unsolicited praise to fellow gymgoers—even if you think you are being kind by giving them a compliment. “I am not a skinny woman,” says Jeanette DePatie, a plus-sized, certified fitness instructor. “I have had several people come up to me over the years and say things to me that they believe are encouraging—like, ‘good for you!’, ‘Stick with it, and you’ll lose the weight in no time,’ or ‘It’s so great that you’ve started on your fitness journey.’ Obviously, they are completely unaware that I’m a 20-year licensed fitness teacher who is not exercising to lose weight. Don’t assume you know where somebody is in their exercise journey or that you know why they are exercising.”
Don’t be a machine hog
There are only so many machines and pieces of equipment to go around at a gym—and during peak times that may mean you have to remember the lessons you learned in the sandbox during preschool. “Be courteous of others when you’re using the equipment,” says Michael Kuang, a certified personal trainer. “If you see someone waiting to use the same thing, tell them how much longer you will be. Or better yet, offer to let them work in between your sets.” Here’s how to get the most from your gym membership.
Don’t throw your weights
Unless you’ve joined a power-lifting or CrossFit gym, there’s no reason to bang your weights down on the ground in between sets. “Besides giving people a heart attack when a 245-pound bar slams to the floor, you are seriously putting people at risk for a broken foot,” warns James Cappola, a personal trainer at Crunch in New York. “If you are in a regular gym with a general population, you have to act accordingly. Don’t be the guy who comes in, attempts to lift a 290-pound barbell, and then throws them to the floor because the last few reps are too much.” Either use a spotter or use less weight, bro.
Don’t crowd the squat racks
If you aren’t doing a compound exercise—like a squat, deadlift, or shoulder press—then stay out of the squat racks. “This isn’t the place to do your bicep curls, because you can use dumbells or other bars specifically for that,” explains Nick Rizzo, who has spent six years as a competitive powerlifter and four years training others. “This applies to all other types of random exercises you see people doing in squat racks.” Now that you’ve done all that hard work, here are 13 things not to do after your workout is over.
Don’t belt out a tune
You’re in the zone and your playlist dishes up your favorite tune. What do you do? Start singing? No, thank you. You’re not at home in your shower and everyone outside your headphones can hear your hums, whistles, not to mention profanities as you try to rap alongside Cardi B. “Please, no singing at the top of your lungs,” says Bartolini. “Nobody needs to hear your ‘na-na-nas!’” Yes, you can have fun during your workout, but not to the point of distracting others.
Don’t record someone without permission
Now that everyone carries a camera around 24/7, it can be far too easy to capture people and share it—whether they look silly while using an exercise machine incorrectly or are wearing a workout outfit you think may be inappropriate. Not only is this one of those things to never do at the gym, but you shouldn’t do it anywhere. “In your desire to have a good laugh with your friends at this person’s expense—or worse, on social media—you seriously violate gym rules and common decency,” says Steven McDaniels, director of fitness and recreation at Beacon College in Leesburg, Florida. “Instead of recording and making fun of them, why not make them feel a little bit more welcome be saying hello or offering assistance.”