Physical Fitness Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for physical fitness professionals, athletes, trainers, and those providing health-related needs. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I've always been kind of creeped out by gyms; many people doing things and no one is talking.

I started working at a place with a gym that has lots of machines in a relatively small space. I have no idea what's going on but sometimes when I go there appears to be a class and ladies telling people what to do.

  • Should I not be in the gym at this time?
  • Should I try to figure out which equipment they're going to use and not use it?
  • Once I noticed the bosu ball was placed under the table, does this mean I shouldn't use it?
  • Since the class seems to be women only, is it frowned upon for a male to be working out in the gym at the same time?

It's hard to ask when the instructors are busy giving instructions and music is playing in the background.

Are there any common rules I should be aware of?

share|improve this question
I am not sure if this question can be sufficiently answered here by us as we don't know the exact situation. Why haven't you asked in your gym what the rules are for those cases? – Baarn Mar 14 '13 at 9:53
I think this a question on general gym etiquette and do's and dont's. As for the specifics you have been asking - I believe that someone would have said something if you did something wrong. – K.L. Mar 14 '13 at 13:08
@Informaficker who the heck would I ask? There is no person who is employed by the gym itself. I'm serious, should I ask the building custodian? – Celeritas Mar 14 '13 at 16:17
The gym has no employees? – Kate Mar 14 '13 at 18:52
It seems like the gym is not very organized. Perhaps you could talk to somebody about formalizing some guidlines or schedules to make everything clearer for everyone. – Kate Mar 14 '13 at 19:06
up vote 21 down vote accepted

I think everyone who has gone to the gym understands your situation, since we all were beginners at one time. Trying to figure out what a machine does can be kind of humiliating; what if you're using it wrong? For that reason I recommend talking to a personal trainer just to get a primer on the equipment.

In any case, here are some basic things I think everyone should know about using the gym, and how to be respectful of the establishment and other patrons:

  • Read the gym rules
    The rules are likely to be posted somewhere in the gym. Read them and follow them. Try to encourage others to do the same if you can.
  • Rack your weights
    This is a pet peeve of every experienced gym patron. Nobody likes hunting down weights, or having to dig through plates because the 5lb plate is buried behind four 35lb plates. Keep it neat. Put your weight back where it belongs when you're done.
  • Use the equipment properly
    If there's a squat rack and you're doing curls in it, you're preventing someone from using the equipment as it was designed. You don't need a rack to curl unless you're curling so much you physically can't pick the weight up off the ground.
  • Be respectful to beginners
    You were a beginner once too. Help them if you can do it in a friendly and non-intimidating way. Be a friend to a beginner.
  • Share
    Don't hog the equipment. Let people work in if you're going to be a long time. If you see someone who looks like they're waiting, ask them if they'd like to work in.
  • Communicate
    If a piece of equipment you'd like to use is not in use, but out of place, ask others if they are using it, or have seen anyone using it recently.
  • Clean up after yourself
    If you're sweaty, wipe it up with sanitizer.
  • Yield to people carrying weights
    Encumbered people have the right of way. Give them space.
  • Don't hog the water fountain
    It's impolite to fill your water bottle in the water fountain when people are standing in line and just want a sip.

Basically it all comes down to respect. Respect the space in the way you'd like your own space to be respected by others, and everything will be fine!

share|improve this answer
So many people make me angry at the gym with their general lack of awareness and respect for others, yet somehow I think your list addresses everything I have a problem with. Well done. – Taylor K. Mar 14 '13 at 15:40
I would add to this list: unloading weights when done. It is very frustrating to find a unattended squat rack with the bar loaded. You then have to wait to see if they are getting water, finding another plate, talking to a P/T, or are done with the machine. By unloading the weights when you are done, you not only tell the next person that the machine is free, but also saves them the hassle of having to unload your weights (imagine a weak beginner having to unload a barbell after some jacked-up lifter finished a 300kg set and was too lazy to cleanup afterwards). – Moses Mar 18 '13 at 23:47

In general the attitude in a gym is: Everybody works out for themselves, so everybody keeps to themselves. This might give the idea there is no room for communication, but actually most often the opposite is true.

You'll find most people in a gym cooperative and knowledgeable, but ONLY when you start talking. If you're not talking, then you're assumed to work out for yourself and keep to yourself.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.