Sure, you’re paying for a membership, but that doesn’t mean you have free reign to do whatever you want at the gym. Certain etiquette (and hygiene!) rules apply—after all, there are other people paying to be at your fitness club, too. Gold’s Gym recently conducted a Facebook survey of more than 20,000 fans to uncover their workout pet peeves. Here are five of their top five gym-goer faux pas below, with fitness experts weighing in to encourage better behavior.
1. Leaving sweaty messes. Sweating on equipment without wiping it down afterwards is no-no numero uno. “No one wants to sit in your sweaty seat, and they shouldn’t have to. If you don’t want to get a quick reputation for being a selfish gym-goer, be sure to wipe down the handles and seats of every piece of equipment after using it,” says Amber O’Neal of Café Physique. Missi Wolf of Blast 900 adds that if the gym doesn’t already provide towels, “Always bring at least two with you—one for your face and one for the equipment.”
2. Stinking up the place. While we’re on the subject of hygiene, take care of your own. No one wants to work out next to someone who has a major case of B.O. “This seems like common sense, but you’d be surprised! Take a shower; wear clean clothes for each workout (even if you don’t think they smell bad); use antiperspirant; wash your hands before working out; and wipe off cologne and perfume prior to hitting the gym floor,” O’Neal advises.
3. Creating sound effects. Grunting, yelling or swearing during a class or while lifting weights is incredibly disturbing to the vast majority of people. “Most gyms have policies against it, but they may or may not be regularly enforced. If you can’t prevent yourself from having these outbursts, consider lowering your weights a little bit…or work out with your buddies in your basement or garage,” O’Neal says.
4. Being chatty. First of all, Wolf says, “If you can talk on the phone while on the treadmill, you are not working hard enough!” If you must bring your phone to the workout floor (really, only on-call doctors have this excuse), keep it on vibrate and, step away from the class or gym floor when a call comes in. “Cell phone chats never feel loud to the person talking, but it’s very annoying to everyone else,” O’Neal notes. Along those same lines, it is fine to be cordial to your workout neighbors, but avoid cornering them into a full conversation or prowling for a date. “Focus on your own workout and allow others to do the same,” O’Neal says.
5. Hogging the equipment. Look, if you don’t want to feel pressure to get off of equipment, then you should go to the gym at off-peak times. Otherwise, according to O’Neal, follow these few courtesy rules: Don’t rest on machines between sets and limit your time on cardio equipment to posted time limits (or 20 minutes during peak times when others are waiting if no official limits are displayed). If you’re not sure how to operate the weight contraption, come in when the fitness club isn’t busy and ask staff to show you how so that others are not waiting on you. And if you absolutely must stay on that ab machine until the cows come home, allow others to
“work in.” (Those taking advantage should return the seat and weight to the last user’s setup.)