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Top 10 Dos and Don’ts of Gym Etiquette

 By: Patricia Napier-Fitzpatrick

“I’m one of those strange people: I really love going to the gym.”

                                         -Julianne Margulies

I must say I agree with Julianne Margulies: I really love going to the gym; and have been an avid gym goer since I moved to Manhattan over twenty years ago. Not only does it make me feel better, but it also makes me look better, and gives me the energy I need to keep up with my fast-paced life.

Working out and staying fit is not only good for one’s health– both physically and mentally–but it is also good for one’s career and social life. Over 93 percent of the first impression we make on others is due to our appearance and body language. Whether you are trying to land a job, move up in an organization, or attract a mate, you will be much more successful in doing so if you are in shape, carry yourself with poise and confidence, and are well dressed.

We are all attracted to those who look and sound fit; and we want our leaders to look as if they have the energy, enthusiasm, and commanding presence to lead us.  So don’t think going to the gym is a frivolous activity; it’s serious business–and, it’s fun; and it will be more fun, as well as enjoyable,  if everyone is respectful and considerate of others at the gym.


  1. Do dress appropriately. Leave the tattered, torn and dirty clothes at home. And cover up, please. Most would prefer not to be distracted by too much skin or workout clothes that are too tight.

  1. Do wear deodorant, but skip the perfume and after-shave lotion. In very close quarters, it is nice to work out next to someone who smells clean—not sweaty or overly “fragranced.”

  1. Do share equipment. If you are doing sets on a piece of equipment and resting between each one, and you see someone waiting to use the equipment, let them work in while you rest.

  1. Do share the water fountain. If you see someone waiting behind you, let them go ahead of you before you take five minutes to fill up a large water bottle.

  1. Do place your weights back on the rack when you have finished with them. It is not only thoughtful, but also safer. Someone could trip on them.

  1. Do keep your perspiration (sweat) to yourself. Wipe the equipment after you have used it.

  1. Do stay at home if you are sick. It’s very inconsiderate to go to the gym when you are sick, leaving your germs all over the equipment for others.

  1. Do be considerate of others’ space in classes.  Leave room around your mat for others to move during classes. And do move, if necessary, if you are blocking their view of themselves in the mirror.

  1. Do share benches in the locker room. Try to leave a little space for others to place their belonging on the bench while they change.

  1. Do take a quick shower if you know there are others waiting on line to take a shower.  How would you like to be standing on a line with your towel around you for five minutes waiting for a shower?


  1. Don’t talk on your cell phone on the gym floor or in the dressing room — particularly if they are “no cell-phone” zones at your gym.

  1. Don’t make loud noises. No grunting unless you are at a “serious” all-male gym; and don’t let your weights slam down on the equipment or on floor.

  1. Don’t spit in the water fountain. It’s very unappealing.

  1. Don’t interrupt classes by going late or leaving early. If you need to leave early, stay in the back of the class so you can quietly slip out; and be sure to inform the instructor at the beginning of the class if you need to leave early.

  1. Don’t get too close. If there are several machines on either side of you, don’t get on one right next to another person. If you are putting your mat down in a class, give the persons around you room to put their mats down and be able to move during the class.

  1. Don’t carry your gym bag or personal belongings with you on the gym floor. Use the locker room or coat check. They present a hazard for moving people.

  1. Don’t offer unsolicited advice. Unless you are a personal trainer, it is not your responsibility to give others advice on how to use the equipment. If they ask you, and you are sure you know how to use the equipment, it’s okay to help them.

  1. Don’t treat the locker room like your personal bathroom. Pick up your used towels and place them in the bins intended for them, and throw away any trash in the waste cans.

  1. Don’t talk loudly or carry on a long conversation with a friend in the steam room or sauna.  It’s meant for relaxation, and it’s hard to relax when others are talking.

  1. Don’t stare. It isn’t polite. Whether it’s on the gym floor or in the dressing room, don’t make others feel uncomfortable by staring at them.

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