Exercise good gym etiquette

exerciseIt happens every January, hordes of people resolved to get in shape descend on gyms across the country. While I applaud the determined many, it does make for a difficult few weeks for the regulars while the newbies fill up classes and bumble with gym etiquette.

Just today I attended my usual spin class, saw an available bike, put my stuff on it and adjusted it to fit me. A few minutes later a woman came up and looked perplexed. She said she thought I was on her bike. Because there had been no indication it was reserved – a water bottle, towel or other item – I assumed it was available. There were plenty of bikes available; she could have used a different one. But, rather than point this out I got up and moved to another bike, which I had to adjust to fit me once again.

I assume she didn’t know you have to “reserve” a bike by putting something on it; consequently both of us were inconvenienced because I had to find a new bike and adjust it and she had to readjust “her” bike.

It can be intimidating going to a gym for the first time. You’re not sure what to expect, how to handle the equipment and what the etiquette rules are for the gym. So for all of you resolved newbies, here are some gym etiquette tips to help you.

  • When queuing up for a class, don’t push in front of the queue. Allow those who were there first to claim their spot in the class.
  • When waiting to get into a class, allow those leaving an earlier class to get out and get their stuff before trying to get in.
  • Always wipe down the equipment you used – bikes, mats, weight benches, cardio equipment, etc. It’s not pleasant using something covered in someone else’s sweat.
  • When using weight machines and benches, let others use them between your sets.
  • Be mindful of the amount of time you use a cardio machine. If the gym is busy and there are only a few machines, don’t hog it. Get your workout and then let someone else use it.
  • If you’re not sure about how to use or set-up a piece of equipment, ask either the people around you who seem in the know or the gym staff. The bikes we use at the health club I belong to – Community Fitness – are pretty complicated. If you don’t calibrate them correctly your miles per hour, watts and gear will not be accurate. So don’t be afraid to ask for assistance. The regulars are happy to help.
  • For group classes that fill up, make room for others. Don’t be a space hog.
  • When lifting weights or doing strenuous exercises, keep your grunts and loud breathing to yourself. Unless you’re in yoga class and the instructor is having you do Lion Breath.
  • Put the equipment you used away when you’re done with it.
  • And for you class regulars, welcome the new people. Say hello, introduce yourself and ask if they need help getting set-up. I remember my first few classes. I felt intimidated and unsure of what to do. It’s so nice when someone is welcoming and helpful.

I hope your resolve to get in shape lasts through the year. I’m always happy to see people committed to their health.



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Arden Clise is founder and president of Clise Etiquette. Her love for business etiquette began in previous jobs when she was frequently asked for etiquette, public speaking and business attire advice by executives and board members. The passion for etiquette took hold and compelled Arden to start a consulting business to help others. Read more >>


  1. Ann Marie Gill (@CascadeVDesigns) on April 27, 2015 at 7:17 pm

    Great post. Should be required reading when signing up for a new membership.

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