Getting Comfortable in the Gym: Etiquette Edition

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If you feel a little out of place or uncomfortable at the gym, you’re not alone! Gym jitters are normal; even just going to a new gym can be nerve wracking!

It can feel like everyone else seems to know exactly what they’re doing and you’re sure that they can tell that you don’t.

Gym-timidation is real but it doesn’t have to last forever. This article about gym etiquette will help you walk into any gym with confidence. Catch links to the other related articles at the end of this one! 


“Acting” like you belong at the gym isn’t nearly as hard as it might feel like the first time you walk in. You don’t need to act like the Mayor of Planet Fitness, but making eye contact, smiling, and generally appearing pleasant really do go a long way.

Believe it or not, most people in the gym are actually pretty friendly, no matter how muscular or tough their exterior. Most gym goers remember when they were intimidated to be there and welcome the opportunity to help.

As long as you’re courteous of those around you and clean up after yourself, you’ll be just fine.

Here are a few etiquette tips to keep in mind:

The Obvious Stuff

If you’re sick, stay home. No one wants your germs.

Wipe down equipment when you’re done, especially if you’re sweaty. You don’t want to sit in someone else’s sweat so assume that most people feel similarly about yours.

Avoid staring at people in various stages of undress in the locker room.

What To Do If Someone Is Using Equipment You Need

You have a couple options here. Both begin with approaching with a smile, trying to make eye contact, and engaging with the person.

From there, you can ask how many sets they have left and if anyone else is waiting. Or, you can ask to work in with them and alternate sets.

Most people are happy to do this or at least polite enough to say yes even if they’d rather not.

If you happen to get the oddball who’s a dick about it, that’s on him (or her), not you. Don’t let it stop you from asking someone else in the future.

Use Only What You Need (aka don’t hoard equipment)

When I write gym programs for my weight loss coaching clients, I always ask about the layout of their gym and how busy it is when they go.

If you have the luxury of going when it’s not super crowded, it’s no big deal to several pieces of equipment at once (think a few sets of DBs, maybe a preloaded BB, a bench, and a ball) for a circuit.

If you go during peak times, try not to monopolize all that stuff at once. You can’t actually use it all at once so most of it is just sitting there unable to be used by other people.

Be courteous and adjust accordingly when equipment is in high demand. Better yet, follow a program that’s made for you to do using the equipment you’ll have available.

Ask For Help

If you’re not sure how to use a piece of equipment, ask the person who is using it before you or seek out the floor trainer for assistance (that’s literally their job).

If someone leaves a ton of weight on a bar or machine and you need help getting it off – ask! Don’t be embarrassed or feel like you’re inconveniencing anyone.

Like I mentioned earlier, the average gym goer is probably much friendlier than you’re imagining.

That’s it!

It really isn’t more complicated than that! Remember that you deserve to be there just as much as anyone else, regardless of how “fit” they look or how “unfit” you feel.

Go in there with confidence, hold your head up, and do your thing!

Check out these related articles:

Getting Comfortable in the Gym: Equipment Edition

Strength Training Made Simple

How to Not Feel Like a Newbie at the Gym

How to Start Exercising When You Don’t Know Where To Start

More To Explore

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