8 Gym Etiquette Rules Your Gym Staff Really Wishes You Would Follow

TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY FRANCOISE CHAPTAL A woman lifts weight during a crossfit training in a gym in Paris on January 16, 2015. AFP PHOTO / BERTRAND GUAY (Photo credit should read BERTRAND GUAY/AFP/Getty Images)
Source: BERTRAND GUAY/AFP/Getty Images

When I walk through the streets of New York, it seems like everyone is constantly working out, going to the gym or on their way to work out or go to the gym. From the runners I spot in Central Park, to the SoulCycle and Crossfit junkies on their way to class, everyone is busy getting in shape (or staying in shape). But people go to the gym for more than just toned abs; people also go to the gym to act out every possible form of bad behavior, and from what I have seen, many of them could use a serious course in the basic rules of gym etiquette.  

Having worked at the front desk of a pretty swanky gym for a number of years, I can assure you that we hear, see, and know it all. Sitting safely behind that desk, I’ve seen plenty of people engage in wildly inappropriate gym behavior — from late-comer clients who literally threw water bottles because they weren’t going to be admitted into class, to trainers engaging in screaming matches because one was sleeping with another’s client. I've seen people neglect to wipe their greasy sweat from the equipment. I've seen people treat the gym like their own personal playground — and then act like the biggest babies in the world.

But there should be no room for that kind of behavior at the gym — after all, aren't we all just here to work out? These eight ettiquite tips will help make your gym experience the best that it can possibly be — and keep you from ruining everyone else's experience while you're at it.

1. Don't Hit On People (Most Of The Time)

I’m of the mindset that you shouldn’t hit on anybody at the gym; I mean, who wants to be picked up while they're red-faced and wearing a ripped-up fraternity t-shirt?

That being said, some gyms are well-known as hook-up spots. But even at those gyms, don't think that anything goes — think it through before you approach anyone. That lifter primping and preening like a model in front of the mirror? He seems like he’s not so serious about working out right now, so you can approach freely. But the red-faced woman running at a 7 on the treadmill? Leave her alone until she’s done running...or better yet, just leave her be forever. Most of us are just here for a workout, remember?

2. Wipe Down Your Machines After You Use Them

I know it’s hard to believe that people don’t observe this basic facet of gym hygiene ... but people really do not observe this basic facet of gym hygiene. Yes, the gym staff cleans the machines as often as possible. But we're only human, and in a busy gym with a high turnover of clients, it is entirely plausible that several people could use a machine before we get a chance to clean it. So wipe down your machine after you use it, and if you feel like being particularly cautious, wipe down a machine before you use it, too, lest you end up working out in a pool of someone else's sweat.

3. Don’t Be Late To Class

Plenty of gyms won’t admit latecomers to class. There is a reason for this: there are plenty of clients who don’t understand why it’s a problem to stroll into a class 20 minutes late. The problem is that you’ve already missed the warm-up and part of the workout, and you’re not only distracting the people who bothered to show up on time; you're distracting the instructor, as well. Come on time or don’t come at all. 

4. Treat The Equipment With Care

Do you think dropping barbells with a loud grunt, or letting the weights in your machine slam down when you’re done, makes you look cool? Well, it doesn't, so stop it! Treating the equipment roughly creates wear and tear, which means that we need to replace the equipment more often, which means that your membership prices have to go up to cover the price of it. Plus, that clanking noise is so irritating.

5. Listen To Your Trainer

If you’re paying good money for training sessions, it’s best to, you know, actually listen to what your trainer tells you to do. I’ve seen a shocking number of clients flat-out ignore their trainer’s requests or instructions, and instead do something else on their own that was unsafe. If you’re at a reputable gym with well-educated instructors, take their word over that of some random guy you found on the Internet.

6. Don’t Gossip

Just like hairstylists or therapists, gym trainers, instructors, and administrators are viewed as confidantes by a lot of gym members, and as a result, we hear everything from everyone, from whose husband is cheating on them on business trips, to what company is about to go under for insider trading.

But gyms, especially small ones, are one heck of a game of telephone. One person says something about another client to a trainer, who then tells another trainer, and so on and so on, until it gets back to the original subject. This almost inevitably leads to a screaming match on the gym floor. Don’t say things about someone else at the gym that you wouldn’t want them to hear (this is also a good tip for life in general). 

7. Bring Your Own Mat And Towels When Possible

In some gyms, the mats are not cleaned very often, which is not something you want to have on your mind the next time you’re practicing downward dog. Towels are cleaned after every use, but are usually washed by high-volume professional laundromats that use harsh detergents, which may irritate your skin if you're sensitive. Bringing your own mats and towels will ensure that you’re both germ- and rash-free.

8. Act Like A Grown-Up

Gym staff members are customer service professionals, but that doesn’t mean that we have to do everything you want or ask us to do. We can’t kick people out of the gym without cause, we can't make people leave machines, we can't ask someone to move, and we can't tell someone to use a different locker. You are an adult. Put on your grown-up pants and find a new spot, a new machine, or a new locker and call it a day. Please.

Image: Giphy (8)

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