In 15 Steps: How to be a good gym member

Most of us have already stepped foot into a gym, and in case you haven’t, the experience is likely what you expect –  Jacked guys wrestling against heavy barbells, hip-hop music bellowing from the speakers, and a cacophony of grunts, yells and cheers. We get it: Going to the gym as a beginner can be a little unnerving.

But save for the odd one out, you can rest assured that most people you’ll find at the gym are incredibly respectful, eager to help you out, and happy to stay out of your way and let you do your thing. (Yes, this includes the ever-intimidating powerlifters – they do get loud but they’re really gentle giants.)

On the other hand, keep in mind you’re not the only person who will be training at a gym, so what you do – and what you neglect to do – is going to impact fellow gym-goers. You may not be going to the gym to make friends, but you should still make a conscious effort to familiarise yourself with standard etiquette. Following proper etiquette means you’re a lot likely to get help or a friendly tip should you ever need it; in addition, other gym members are likely going to treat you and your stuff based on how you treat them, so what have you got to lose?

In this article, we’ll tackle some basic questions that inevitably pop up in every beginner’s mind: How long is too long to stay on a machine? Can I use more than one piece of equipment at a time? Is it OK to ask that guy when he’ll be done?


Here’s how you can guarantee a seamless experience at the gym, one machine wipe-down at a time:


1. At the gym, a towel is mandetory 

No one likes to work-out in other people’s sweat. Opt for microfiber towels because they’re the most effective at absorbing your sweat in real-time.

2. Go all in with that deodorant

Make sure your clothes are clean, and always carry deodorant with you – especially if you’re going to the gym after work. 

3. Be mindful about using your phone

It’s extremely disrespectful to take a selfie in between sets. Not only are you wasting your time, you’re also hogging a machine that another gym goer may want to use. Also, it’s tacky, period.

4. No one’s going to stop you from wearing earbuds, but keep in mind you’re not alone

People may need to politely inquire how long you’ll be on a machine, so always try to take a quick look around you and scan for cues once in a while.

5. Keep your relationship with machines monogamous

In other words, please do not use two exercise stations at once. If you want to combine moves, consider combining a machine exercise with an exercise that requires no equipment, like a squat.

6. Don’t be disruptively noisy

Dropping weights on the floor is a no-go. If you’re trying so hard you can’t lower the weights down slowly, then you should be using lighter weights. Same goes for grunts and ‘Arrrghs!’ – try power-breathing instead: Inhale while lowering the weight, exhale when raising. In simpler words: Shut up!

7. A spotter is there to provide assistance, not to save you from getting crushed.

You’re not really doing your work-out if your spotter has to rip three of five reps off your chest.In other words, don’t overdo it with weights.  Not only is it inefficient and likely to lead to an injury, it’s also the kind of thing that leads to damages and disruption, especially while your spotter tries to keep you alive.

8. Always place dumbbells, weights and platforms back to their original place

It bears repeating: Back to their original place – even if that’s not necessarily where you found them. Don’t be inconsiderate just because others are. Nothing will get you the ire of other people at the gym like dumping equipment wherever. 

9. Once you’re finished, strip the barbells 

It can be both annoying and time-consuming for others to have to drag the plates off barbells, especially if you’ve attached multiple weights.

10. Wipe things down after you use them 

Please wipe your sweat off of machines, barbells, floor mats and anything else you use. Even if you “didn’t sweat that much,” wipe it down. This is basic gym etiquette and reduces the smear of sweaty germs all across the equipment.

11. Respect personal space

Gyms get crowded, especially during the first few months of the year. But no matter how many people you’re battling, you should still make an effort to respect everyone’s personal space. 

Not only is it uncomfortable to exercise in close proximity with a stranger, but it’s dangerous — one failed attempt at an overhead press could spell broken feet for both of you. 

12. Signal your space

Before swinging a kettlebell, run in place or stretch on the floor – this should give a pretty clear indication that your present location is a no-go zone for others.

If you have to leave to use the restroom or get water, place some sort of marker on the equipment you’re using. A pretty universal sign that says “Hey, I’m coming back to this” is draping your towel over the equipment — the towel proving its handiness yet again.

13. Don’t be afraid to ask for space

If you feel like someone is too close to you, let them know. You shouldn’t have to endure the discomfort, and it’s easier to ask someone to take a step or two away than to receive (or inflict) an injury.

14. Walk in with a plan

Planning your workout will save you a lot of fiddling around and make your workouts go by much quicker. Remember, the most valuable resource at a gym is time.

15. Time is the most valuable resource in a gym

This is important to repeat: Respect people’s time. Making friends at the gym is excellent – it keeps you motivated to keep going, and it makes it easier to ask for help should you need it, but remember that most people are limited on time. Don’t chat someone’s ear off – even if they are your buddy.