Gym Etiquette: The Do's and Don'ts

Joey Thurman

The holiday season is filled with family, laughter, and a lot of unhealthy food. In fact, people gain more weight from October to January than any other time during the year…combined. Cue the New Year’s rush at the local gym.

As a nutrition expert and personal trainer, I’m always surprised by how many people are in the gym in January. But the key to success is to realize that you’re not going to create your ideal birthday suit in one marathon session. And you’re not going to make any friends if you don’t know the many unwritten rules of the gym.

So, whether you’re an eager newcomer whose feeling a little lost or you practically live at the gym, we can all benefit from revisiting key rules of the road – or the treadmill.

Whether it’s your first time in the gym (good for you!) or you’re a seasoned veteran, utilizing these tips will ensure you’re a positive influence in the gym and are contributing to an environment of health and fitness!

Basic Gym Etiquette

  • Deodorize, Before and After

    Everyone knows that you should pile on the deodorant after a healthy sweat, but it’s also simple etiquette to do so before the gym. Small odors from the workday can grow exponentially while you work out, and nobody wants that. Especially the girl next to you.

  • Don't Wear Cologne or Perfume

    Avoid wearing heavy amounts of perfume or cologne when working out. The smells will radiate as you work up a sweat and may cause nausea among your fellow gym goers. And if you think wearing your commercial body spray will have the ladies lining up, you are sorely mistaken!

  • Wash Your Workout Clothes Everyday

    See point one. Even if you don’t notice odors on your clothes post-workout, as soon as those materials are exposed to perspiration again, they will release a foul odor. Buy a few back-up items and rotate between visits.

  • Don't Hit on Fellow Gym-Goers

    The gym is not an appropriate place to pick up a date. Most people hate working out and do so for health reasons, so they’re understandably focused on themselves. Don’t try to strike up a conversation with someone wearing headphones.

  • Be Discreet with Makeup

    Whether you’re joining the “most exclusive” gym in town, you’re there for one reason only – YOU. Don’t dress like you are going to the club. Leave the glitter and makeup at home.

  • Don't Be a Know-It-All

    Just because you’ve read the latest issue of Men’s Health or have been practicing the newest weightlifting trend does not mean you are an authority on working out. Do not offer help or advice unless someone asks you. Don’t even offer to spot someone.

  • Sanitize Your Equipment

    There's nothing worse than putting your face down on a gym mat and lying in someone else’s sweat. Same goes for putting your hands on an elliptical handle and being met with a slick surface. Always utilize the gym’s sanitizing spray before and after using any equipment that isn’t your own.  

  • Don't Be Noisy

    Grunting, singing, rapping, or yelling across the gym are major faux pas.  Not only is it blatant attention-seeking behavior, it’s extremely annoying. Keep your earphones at a reasonable level and your grunting to a minimum. If people are staring, it’s not because they think you’re cool.

  • Be Courteous with Equipment

    While you shouldn’t necessarily cut your workout short, be mindful of those around you waiting for their turn on the machines. Everyone’s paying for a gym membership, so don’t be an equipment hog. Sharing is caring.

  • Don't Walk Around Naked

    While it’s not the biggest gym blunder, it can make others uncomfortable. Changing in the locker room is one thing, walking around in your birthday suit and sitting on the benches is another. There are towels for a reason.


Joey Thurman

Joey Thurman is a nutrition and lifestyle expert, published author, personal trainer and creator of The Lifestyle Renovation. As a fitness expert for nine years, Joey has helped numerous celebrity clients make an internal change for continue success in life and achieve their aesthetic goals. Joey’s clients include Celebrity Chef Art Smith, Professional Female Wrestler Lisa Marie Varon, and many others.

Joey is also a fashion model who has landed covers on Healthy for Men, TimeOut Chicago and has worked for companies such as Abercrombie, Jockey, Kohl’s, Sears, Kmart, Carson Pirie Scott, Neiman Marcus, and more.

He has a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies from South Illinois University at Edwardsville (SIUE), is a Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) with the American Council on Exercise, and is a Fitness Nutrition Specialist (FNS).

For more information, please visit Joey's website or follow @JoeyThurmanFit on Twitter.