Gym Etiquette: Are you “that annoying person”?

Let’s be honest, for some of you this will be a head-nodding, amen-sister, comical read.  For others, a shocking awakening of self-awareness.  Let’s do the world a favor and share this post far and wide to spread the message ever-so-tactfully to those who need it.

I brought this up on our Fit Club Instagram account recently, asking for your biggest pet peeves at the gym, and boy did you all have a lot to say!  With so many people with so many of the same pet peeves, it kind of baffles me that there still so many offenders!  Let’s get right to it.  Here are some general rules of gym etiquette, or in other words, things you should do (or avoid doing) so as not to be labeled “that one annoying guy/girl at the gym.”  Plus a few funnies to keep the mood light.

I’d like to make it VERY clear that this is a list compiled directly from our thousands of fans on Instagram.  I’m not just a grumpy hater.  I’m a pretty tolerant person in general, but when when it comes to gyms, it seems like most people have the same gripes, so let’s laugh about it together!

1.  Do: Clean up your stuff.  
This is probably my #1 personal pet peeve.  And sorry boys, but you are usually the worst offenders.  I have a very limited time to spend at the gym, and the last thing I want to be doing is wasting my time racking all of YOUR weights so I can use the space.  I sometimes wonder if these people grew up with their Mom always picking up after them or if their spouse does it currently because seriously, put your stuff away.  I’m not your Mom.  If you get something out, put it away when you’re your done.  Stack up plates on a machine?  Put them back on the rack before you walk away.

2.  Do: Wipe down your Machine.
But I was only on it for 10 minutes!  But I didn’t break a sweat!  Listen very carefully:  just wipe it down anyway.  Every time.  Leaving a machine sweaty is definitely gross, but even if you don’t feel you left your mark, germs are everywhere.  Who knows what you’ve got on your fingers that pushed those buttons.  Just keep everything sanitized and we all win.  PS: wiping down the machine with the same towel you used to wipe your sweaty face doesn’t count.


3.  Don’t: Wear cologne or perfume.
Heat, sweat, and increased heart rates accentuate all the smells.  Please for the love- skip the perfume and cologne.  You don’t need it.  You need deodorant, period.  You think you’re making yourself more attractive at the gym with the smelly stuff, but really it’s probably making the people around you gag.

4.  Don’t: Talk on the phone while working out.
This is what started this whole conversation on Instagram.  The girl on the treadmill next to me was yapping on the phone SO loud for a full 30 minutes.  Keep in mind the entire gym can hear your conversation when you’re doing this.  It’s distracting (and mildly awkward) so maybe have a text convo, or tell them you’ll call back after your workout.  Because let’s be honest, if you are carrying on a conversation, you’re probably not working out very hard.

snooze button meme

5.  Don’t: Be an equipment hog.
What’s an equipment hog?  Do you sit on the same piece of equipment waiting 5 minutes playing on your phone between sets?  Do you workout with friends and rotate through the same few pieces of equipment for a full 30-60 minutes so no one else can come near it?  Do you grab weights and carry them to another part of the gym and then keep them there for your whole workout?  Do you plan your entire workout around one piece of equipment?  Do you lean on a machine while you visit with people so no one else can use it?  If you answered yes to any of these questions then congratulations!  You’re an equipment hog!   Now stop.

6.  Don’t: Offer unsolicited advice.
Unless someone asks you for advice, or is in serious danger of injury, keep your helpful commentary to yourself.  Most people, even if they really do have bad form, will be super annoyed by your telling them.


7.  Do: Leave a buffer zone.
Guys, it’s just like the urinals.  Or so I’ve heard.  If there is an entire row of treadmills open and one person is running, don’t hop on the one right next to them.  Respect the buffer.

8.  Do: Use headphones
It surprises me that people do this, but they do.  Don’t play music from your phone speaker. If you want to listen to something, for pete’s sake, bring some headphones.

9.  Do: Use your inside voice
I can’t even tell you the kind of personal information I learn about random people at the gym because they practically yell it.   Remember that people go to the gym to focus and maybe even relax a bit and both of those are hard to do when you’re talking like you own the place.  Socializing is also super fun, heck I love to chat with my friends, and lots of people workout with a partner.  Talking and visiting at the gym is great, just be respectful of the people around you and maybe find an empty corner if you want to have chit-chat hour or get extra rowdy.

10. Don’t: Bare it all (or at least be mindful about it.)
Several people mentioned this on the Instagram thread so it’s worth a mention here.  Be mindful that just because you’re comfortable with yourself in your birthday suit, it doesn’t mean other people are.  Obviously locker rooms are for changing and showering, but cover up when you can to be respectful of the people around you.  I will say I still have VERY vivid memories from the shower room of our community swimming pool when I was only 4-5 years old.  That goes to show you that those images are burned into your eyeballs and you can’t un-see them!

What are your pet peeves?  Any general etiquette rules we missed??


  1. My favorite (or not!) was the woman who used one of two (!) spin bikes to hang her coat. While she used the treadmill. Seriously? There’s a coat rack for your coat.

  2. I haven’t been to a gym in forever – sounds like that’s a good thing – but my comment is directed at my town’s community pool: please fix the showers – small children use them, I use them, older (naked and sometimes scary) people use them, and no one wants to be scalded like that!

  3. I agree with these especially the one where a person has to get on a machine right next to me when there are several others available! One thing that happened in the gym recently was a woman listening to music on her phone while being in the Cardio Cinema!!! I’m watching a movie – if you want to listen to music, do as you said and get headphones or go out to the main gym. Why would someone even do that?!

  4. I think that #10 is a bit out of line. My thought is that if you are uncomfortable with nudity in a locker room that is specifically there for showering and changing then perhaps you should go home to shower. I think its unfair to ask someone to hide their body or act like nudity is in some way shameful for your benefit. I understand that it can be awkward (above commenters’ experience with the nude woman painting her toes, that is out of line) but that is not a good reason to shame other peoples bodies just because they have different comfort levels than you.

    1. I totally get what you’re saying. Showers are definitely for showering. I always warn my little kids about it so they don’t stare, or say something out loud that I know they’re thinking because everyone has the right to dress down to their comfort level in a space like that. I don’t think people need to feel shamed (or rather, people definitely shouldn’t shame those that choose to get all nude-y,) but I also feel like it’s a mutual respect sort of thing. Like, if it’s an option to conveniently get dressed, or prance around topless for a little while longer, chances are most of the other people in the locker room would vote for you getting dressed, haha. Great thought though, appreciate the insight!

    2. #10 is a big pet peeve here. My problem isn’t the nudity required to bathe, briskly dry and dress. It’s the naked people lounging or flitting around from one end of the locker room to the other sans towel. Or, I swear, with their foot on the countertop as they shave their legs. That can be done in the privacy of your shower. And, please, just hold a towel to your backside if you’ve gotta bend all the way over right in front of me. I’m not your gyno or proctologist and don’t need that view.

      1. Nobody is body shaming. Whenever I see anyone working out my thoughts always go to the positive. I just agree that there is a difference with somebody showering or changing and someone lounging around naked with all their parts on display. That goes for any size and or shape of the person.

  5. ha thanks for that post! I read it to my husband and he kept saying “Yes! that drives me crazy!” I think it got him a little worked up, we had a good laugh!

  6. My gym is a pretty friendly place. There’s a little note on each machine about respecting others by letting them use equipment between your sets. I prefer to do one set of each, then go around again. But equipment hogging, in all its forms, is still rampant. I’ve also quit using one machine because of unwanted advice.

    Those most guilty of #10 are the older ladies from the water aerobics classes. Oh, my! I guess that’s why there are separate locker rooms for children. I just go home to shower and change. At first glance, though, I thought of the buxom babes who compliment each other’s bras in the (coed) weight room, or leave their cell phones and other personal parts sticking out of said clingy workout apparel. Maybe that would be a corollary to #10–cover your bust.

  7. Along the same lines as the last one, when I take my girls to swimming lessons there is ALWAYS some naked old lady walking around the locker room! I really didn’t want to see that especially when they do have curtained off areas for changing.

  8. I go to Planet Fitness, which I love! What I don’t love is when I do the 30-min circuit, there are a few (mostly men) who come to use that one machine – for half my workout, and sit on it when it’s obvious I would be using next in line. I have even heard the comment ‘that I don’t really want to use that machine anyway, since they are using it.’

    1. OH MY GOSH!!!!! I totally get you! And the sign that says that it is only for 30min circut use, and it is regularly monitered- LIES!! We talked to the staff about it, and they told us that when that happened that we should come and get them. Like little children tattling to Mommy.

    2. Nothing will beat the guy who wandered around the 30 minute circuit at my PF taking selfies to “prove” he went to the gym. Best/worst 15 minutes of my life.

  9. Yes to all but I have found workarounds for many of them. Like using a headset to tune out others and not to use highly sought after equipment. I also try to avoid crowded zones.

    I have never used the shower at gym. But guys who do seem to bare all. I thought that was normal. I try not to go the locker room during that time when everyone is changing and showering.

  10. YES to all, and especially that last one. I will never forget the time I walked into the locker room only to come face to, er, face with a woman who was butt-naked, painting her toenails. That’s a sight I really just wish I could un-see. (And that was about 8 years ago. The memory lingers.)

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