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Gym Etiquette 101: Unwritten Rules for Beginner Gym Goers to Follow

Updated: May 22, 2023

With the beginning of a new year, many people are feeling very inspired to enroll at their local gym. It's a time where people start to think about new year's resolutions after the holiday season of eating so much sugary treats.

It's also a time for all those avid gym goers realize how packed their gym has became. Even though it is so inspiring to see so many individuals at the gym to try to improve their health, sometimes it might be annoying to wait for a machine.

I'm sure if you are an avid gym goer, you already know some gym etiquette, but if you are new and you've decided to take up a gym membership, here's 10 unspoken gym rules that seasoned lifters and fitness enthusiast want you to know.

Why Are Gym Etiquette Rules Important?

When we talk about gym etiquette, we are basically talking about common decency. It's so important to be able to be courteous and think about others while at the gym. Not only is it polite, but also enhances safety when you're out and about at your local gym.

Tip #1 - Put your weights back when you're done

I've been at the gym so many times when other individuals will use the dumbbells or plates and they won't put them back when they are done. I've even seen people get into arguments over it.

It's just common sense to put them back on the rack when you are done so another person can use them. This not only applies to weights, but also other equipment such as resistance bands, barbells, yoga balls and wall balls.

Tip #2 - Put your ego aside and don't lift too heavy

I've seen some funny things at the gym in my time...even as a person trainer I've seen people try to lift heavier weights than what they should be doing.

Form should always come first. It's so important to be able lift at a weight that you can work your muscles and build them up, but also make sure it's not too heavy for you.

Yes, there is always a chance that you will be next to a seasoned weight lifter who might be lifting 180lbs, but that doesn't mean you should also be doing that.

You should always start out lighter, if it's too light, you can always add more. It takes time, determination and patience to able able to build up your muscles to lift heavy.

Tip #3 - Don't hog equipment

It's super important to be able to use your time wisely on the weight machines, or when you are using any kind of equipment at the gym.

There is nothing more irritating than when one person sits on a weight machine for 40 minutes not doing anything (yes, I've seen this so many times).

It's good to have a plan when you walk into the gym so you know ahead of time what machines you want to use. This way, you know how many sets and how many reps you want. This ensures that you have scheduled your time to move onto your next workout in a timely manner, after all, it's a community space.

It's also not okay to "save" machines, or just place your jacket there because you don't want to have someone next to you. Not only will people think you are rude, but you wouldn't want that to happen to you when your looking to use equipment.


I know we have passed the COVID days where the gym rules were super strict about wiping down the machines after use, but that doesn't mean you can skip out on spraying and wiping down the machine after you have used it.

Believe me, no one wants to go up to a machine you have used and see all of that sweat all over it.

Most gyms still have a station where you can grab paper towels, sanitizer and cleaner so you can wipe them after you have used them. It's also a good idea to keep a few towels with you so you won't be going back and forth to grab them after every use.

Tip #5 - Wear earbuds.

I think this should be a given, but some people don't use earbuds or headphones when they go to the gym. No one really wants to hear your music blasting when they are trying to have a conversation, or even trying to concentrate on their workout. Be courteous and bring a pair of good earbuds.

Tip #6: Lower weights instead of dropping them to the ground.

I've seen this countless times. Someone lifts heavy, can't hold the weight any longer, so they drop the entire weights leaving a loud ringing noise all throughout the gym.

This is not only rude to others around you, but is very unsafe for multiple reasons. When you are lifting weights, you are wanting to be able to get that full range of motion. By dropping the weights, you aren't getting the benefit of working those muscles.

Not only is it unsafe for you and rude to others, you could also potentially damage equipment, or even a suspended gym membership.

Tip #7: Use one machine at a time.

Oh yes, this should self explanatory, but it's not. I've seen so many people jump back and forth between machines. People may place towels, gym bags, water bottles or other things on top or next to the machines that they are using.

This prevents others from using it and is super rude. Just like at school, you use one thing at a time to share with others. When you are done with one machine, wipe it off then go to your next workout.

If you are doing a circuit, don't place things on the machines and let others use it while your using another machine.

Tip #8: Give tips only when asked (and if qualified).

This is a huge one to remember. Don't give any tips to others unless you are asked. I know when I was a beginner, I got a few seasoned gym goers that gave me unwanted advice.

This is frustrating and awkward for the person receiving the 'advice'. I know I was very unsure and not confident in the machines, but I wasn't looking for 'advice'. It just made me feel very insecure and I even thought about not going back because I thought I looked like a fool trying these exercises.

A gym should be a place where others go to get in a workout for themselves and to build up confidence. Off course, if you are asked advice, and you are qualified to answer the question, by all means, go ahead and help.

Tip #9: Communicate.

If you aren't sure if someone is using a machine, go ahead and ask. There is really no harm in asking. If you don't want to be in someone's selfie, go ahead and communicate to them. It's so important to be able to ask questions, or speak up when you feel uncomfortable or have a question.

People won't hate you for this, or think you are being rude talking to them at the gym. In fact, they may even think you are polite and thoughtful.

Tip #10: You Shouldn’t Mark Your Territory

Yes, we are back again to placing things on machines. As mentioned earlier, just don't do this. I've seen too many people walk into the gym, place their bag or hoodie over cardio equipment, then leave to go the basketball court, or the weight area.

Machines and equipment at the gym are on a first come first serve basis and it is so rude to block a machine if you aren't using it.

It is different if you are resting between sets for a few seconds and you stand up and stretch, then go right back. This is meaning you are in the middle of using it. But it's one thing to place your belongings down and walk away.

Overall, gym etiquette rules ultimately are being courteous, and polite to others share the common space.

Do you have any other gym etiquette rules that we forgot on the list? Share your thoughts below!

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