Gym Etiquette 101

New Year’s Resolution #13456: Workout at least once this year


This is the day.

This is the day that you are finally going to go to the gym. Sure, you renewed your membership mid-December to get a head start on your fitness goals, but no one does anything productive before New Year’s, right? Right. The day after is for being hungover, the week after is reserved for adjusting back into the real world and now — well, now you’re out of excuses, so you’re going.

Every class will be packed because this thought is not unique to you. Every locker will be taken, every shower in use, every bike under bottom.

But if you’re really serious about committing to getting in shape — or screw the shape: if you’re really serious about going to the gym so that your membership is finally more than an expensive key chain, you’ve gotta know the etiquette.

Ignore the Gym Regulars

Contention between gym regulars and resolutionists is as old as beef between house cats and newborn babies: the regs find you annoying, you find them intimidating. Just as the house cat has to warm up to the idea that a bald kitten-thing is taking all of its humans’ attention, the regulars have to warm up to you — and they will. They’ll start to see you around enough that they’ll stop hissing each time you pass by. In the meantime, it’s your job to ignore them. Stay out of their way, be courteous with shared equipment and remember that just because they’re stretching peacefully in a sunny spot does not mean you’re welcome to pet their bellies. These things take time, you know. Just like abs.

This is Not a Gatorade Ad

Just a friendly reminder that drinking doesn’t mean dousing your head in juice!

Stay in Your Lane

Mind your business and keep your eyes forward, whether you’re in the locker room, a group class or in a row of machines that display your progress. I know how tempting it is to see how many calories that sweaty dude is burning on his dramatic incline. I know how badly you want to investigate whether or not the woman next to you is wearing a prosthetic nose. But no one likes a peripheral creep. Save that for the subway.

Don’t Hog the Elliptical

For some reason, every gym on the entire planet has only one elliptical. And as we all know, everyone loves the elliptical. (Swinging your arms and legs is fun no matter where you are or what episode of Maury Povich is on TV.) This means that should you be lucky enough to get on the adult swing set of gymnastic joy, you have exactly half an hour to do your thang. After that, switch up your activity. It’s polite, courteous, and to be honest: I’m not sure that machine does anything besides make you look like you’re doing an emergency-walk to the bathroom.

Be Mindful of Your Sweat

Seems intuitive and yet many find it complicated: if you drip, clean it up.

Don’t be a Gym Deejay

Besides the damage you are likely doing to your own ears, no one wants to hear your Inspirational Playlist 2016, especially because you’ve put Katy Perry’s “Eye of the Tiger” on there eleven different times. Turn the volume down so that your neighbor can enjoy their “Get Me Bodied 2016” playlist featuring Lou Bega’s “Mambo Number 5” in peace.

Speed Shower

In and out. The whole world needs to rinse off. You probably don’t want to stand barefoot in that communal shower for too long, anyway.

Use Your Indoor Voice as Best You Can

Just cool it with the HAGRHGHZ and the UHGGHNNHHHH and all other sound effects you may find yourself shouting at the top of your lungs each time you raise a weight above your head. If “walrus sex” doesn’t immediately come to mind, the fact that you haven’t worked out in a while might: sounds like you’re overexerting yourself, but check with a professional.

Photographed by Lachlan Bailey for Industrie Magazine.


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  • Quinn Halman

    And no PDA!

    • Amelia Diamond

      Yea no licking the dumbbells you weirdos!

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    • hollygoeslightly22

      There is a couple that works out with a personal trainer at the gym I go to. Every Sunday, there they are, sweaty and embracing.

    • Marissa Dawson

      Pda in the gym is a thing? Girl, that is not the gym for me.

      Lots of gay guys at my gym. The treadmill gets more love then I ever will lol.


  • Marina

    Love it.

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  • Leonie


  • hollygoeslightly22

    Also, if I may add, please return equipment back to where you found it. I feel like a good twenty minutes is wasted while I walk in circles looking for 10 pound weights.

  • I wish there was a no cell phone rule in the weight room. Every 30 second break between sets turns into at least three minutes. I was amazed by how quickly I got my work out done when I left my phone in my locker

    • Catherine Bohner

      People leave them in weird places in the weight area at my gym and it stresses me out.

    • Junglesiren

      People talking loudly on their cell phones is another issue. When I can hear someone’s conversation over my own ear phones then it’s a problem. And you are right, you get a lot more done when you’re not yapping away.

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  • Natty

    There was a woman at my old gym who used to not dry off after the shower. She’d slather her soaking wet body in thick layers of the yellow Kiehl’s lotion and then shimmy around butt naked with a towel under each foot so as to not touch the floor. It was weird and I wish I could unsee it. So I would also add “no weird lotion habits” to this etiquette list.

    • Amelia Diamond

      I just laughed out loud – “no weird lotion habits” is very Fran Lebowitz

  • Zara T

    I am particularly perplexed by people who make the weird sounds when not doing something really tough. Weightlifting and making weird sounds? I get it. Strolling on treadmill and making weird sounds? No.

  • Catherine Bohner

    Don’t use equipment you don’t need and don’t leave your shit all over the place. There’s one guy at our gym who keeps all his stuff on a bench while he wanders all over the place

  • 4nna

    Amelia, you are the Queen of metaphors.

    • Amelia Diamond

      Well you have spelled your name with a number which makes you the Albert Einstein of monikers but also, possibly, of double meanings. Anna + 4nna = Anna and For Anna!!

  • JOS1999

    The showers after working out can be a little awkward. I’m in Seattle, and sometimes it feels like there are people that go to the gym just to look at other guys in the shower. It is somewhat uncomfortable to turn around and have another Man smile at you. Then, when you leave, you realize that he was in there before you went in and after you came out. I guess some guys like to hang out in the shower room of the gym.

  • Junglesiren

    Here’s a big one. An IMPORTANT one… if you have a particularly strong body oder a quick cleansing BEFORE working out is a gift to your fellow gym goers. There’s a man at my gym who is so unbearably funky AND nice — go figure. I can tell when he’s been in the gym (small, private) from the fumes. No joke. The man needs a pre-wash because he really works up a sweat – just thinking about it now makes me want to hurl. I’m used to people sweating and getting funky at the gym, I get funky at the gym, but this dude… it’s just ungodly.

    • Amelia Diamond

      Oh god I agree. shout out to everyone in yoga about this, too. just a fast rinse! We’ve all been there, of course, but like..team work!

  • Ashley Cook

    Once time a super hyper “regular” dressed in full spandex interrupted my workout to tell me that I should be doing it a different way to burn more calories. I wish I had a photo of my reaction. THE AuDaCitY !!!

  • Gustavo Woltmann

    Pretty funny post! I only have two rules:
    1. Don’t block the dumbbells
    2. No curling in the squat rack

  • Alice

    no pain no gain! lol

  • everything

    I just did a two week trial membership thing, I had been a member before at this place. It’s a good place, but this young lady who had her own personal trainer, wow she just wouldn’t shut up and I have social phobia anyways, she’s clearly a problem child and I don’t even like being in the same room with people like that. Also, one day someone ran the vacuum cleaner and I hate the indoor air. I’m really sensitive, I have chronic pain, and I’m just a miserable lonely F’er, if I had a gfriend I’d just dump her anyways, but not before somehow showing her the time of her life. If it wasn’t for the internet I’d probably be married like all the rest. I have access to a small fitness room via my condo, and I’m going to spend the membership money just buying more personal equipment, the latest thing is a 6″ x 36″ foam roller.

  • Great post!

  • Catger

    And please don’t use 3 machines at once for your own personal Curves circuit!

  • Erika de Jesus

    People who hog the machines, to text!