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Etiquette in the Gym: The Unwritten Rules Everyone Should Follow

by Ninja - Inspire & Be Inspired
on 23rd April 2018

The experienced fitness instructor spends hours every week in the gym — either working out or helping others to. It’s therefore not surprising that Anthony knows everything there is to know about etiquette.

If you’re new to the world of gym membership, you may not know what is and isn’t acceptable in terms of behaviour. While you might believe you’re being respectful and courteous to other gym users, you could be making their lives a misery.

Anthony has been kind enough to speak with us about the unwritten rules of the gym, as well as common behaviours that get under the skin if other gym-goers. If you want to learn about gym etiquette, Anthony has the answers you’re looking for.


Unofficial breaches of gym etiquette

  • Towels — or a lack thereof

Anthony virtually lives in the gym some weeks, so he’s seen every type of annoying or discourteous behaviour — but people not bringing a towel is just about the worst.  “Always bring a towel! There’s nothing worse than getting on a piece of equipment to find it’s dripping in sweat!”

  • Misuse of weights

Another pet peeve of Anthony’s is the way people use weights. He said: “Do not drop the weights! It damages the floor and the equipment! It also draws attention to yourself. If you cannot put them down, they are too heavy for you.”

Always put weights back when they’re finished with — otherwise they can become tripping hazards.

  • Equipment hogging

Have you ever been waiting to get onto a particular fitness machine, only to run out of time because the person on it is too carried away to realise you’re waiting? Anthony has… many times.  “Do not hog the equipment. Some people with be doing a superset which involves using several pieces of kit. Yeah that’s fine, but not when it’s busy. Come on guys, use some common sense.”

  • Bad technique

Anthony often sees people using equipment or trying complex exercises without first being trained by a professional. Not only do these people run the risk of injuring themselves, they spread their bad techniques amongst the gym community. If you’re not completely sure how to do something, ask a member of staff.

  • Carrying too many belongings

Some people carry their whole lives around with them in the gym as they move from machine to machine. Towels, phones, keys, jackets, bags, gadgets and wallets are just some of the items in gyms that often cause tripping hazards. Use a locker to store your possessions. You should only have a drink, a towel and perhaps some music on your person while working out.

  • Wearing inappropriate clothing

While you might be proud of your glutes, the other gym users around you probably don’t want to see them. If you’re wearing leggings, make sure they’re covering your assets – do they pass the squat test?

  • Using the gym for too long

Some gyms are oversubscribed, and things can get very busy at peak times of the day. Play your part in keeping equipment as free as possible by limiting your sessions to no more than one and a half hours. In most cases, a good workout shouldn’t last longer than 60 minutes.

  • Overusing mobile phones

A lot of people use their mobile phone for playing music in the gym, which is fine as long as the music can’t be heard by others. However, speaking on the phone with a raised voice isn’t the done thing. And using the phone while on the treadmill is a recipe for disaster.

  • Not informing staff of changes to your health

When you fill in health questionnaires at gyms, this isn’t just a tick-box exercise, it’s done to keep you safe. If you fall in while working out, staff may need to know your medical history if they’re going to treat you. Any ailments or illnesses you have will also dictate what exercises you can and can’t do. Keep gym staff updated if you develop any new medical conditions.


Anthony’s gripes

Gym etiquette and the unwritten rules of gym membership are one thing, but there are certain behaviours that really annoy Anthony. And if they annoy him, they’re bound to annoy others.

“I hate people taking selfies in the gym. They do this so they can update their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts — but are they really that desperate for attention?

“I also get really annoyed at people who get a little too touchy feely in the gym. Please, get a room!”

Among the other annoyances and grievances reported by gym users are:

  • Coming to use a piece of equipment and its covered in sweat
  • Dropping weights and grunting loudly
  • People making phone calls
  • Bad technique… and the failure to listen to the advice of instructors
  • Trying to lift too much weight and screaming and grunting about it
  • Abusive language
  • Not actually working out. Go to a café if you want to socialise
  • People getting in for free when you pay for membership!
  • Bad music being played by the gym instructor
  • Missing leg day — Some guys with huge upper body muscles have legs with less meat on them than a chicken nugget

If you want to be a courteous, respectful and valued member of the gym community, listen to Anthony’s advice — it comes from years of experience.


Anthony Scarfe

Role: Graphic Designer & Fitness Instructor with a love for all things health and fitness.

Qualifications: Qualified to teach multiple fitness classes in the Leeds area.

Areas of Expertise: Spin, Aerobics, Circuits, Boxercise / Boxerfit, Kickfit & Fitball.

Mission: To push people beyond what they think they can achieve, but also to make sure people are having fun. My main aim is to make sure people leave my classes with a smile on their face.

Ninja - Inspire & Be Inspired

Welcome to 2018 the year to Inspire & Be Inspired. This year we’re determined to help you to achieve your goals. Whether that’s fitness, nutrition or general wellbeing, we’ll be there with you every step of your journey with a lot of help from the Ninja kitchen family. We’ve got new recipes, routines, life hacks and some pretty inspirational stories fresh from the Ninja Kitchen. You inspired us to create this place for you. This is your place, a place to get adventurous, to break out of your routine, a place to find the tools, knowledge and motivation to achieve your personal goals. Feeling inspired? Then why not join us, inspire us and be the best YOU in 2018. Now that’s what I call a ‘Fresh Start’. LOVE NINJA. X
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