The Beginner’s Guide to Gym Etiquette


By Cavino Johnson

Here we are, once again… A brand new year, bringing with it, brand new faces. Now, my safe assumption is that most of you reading this are avid gym goers. But, for those of you that are “newbies”, this one is for you.

You have joined the gym. You paid your enrollment fee and your first month’s dues. You’ve been offered a trial personal training session, you’ve bought new gym shoes, gym clothes, earbuds, and put together a wicked playlist. It’s on! This new year, everything changes for you. This is the year! I’m going to provide you with a fail proof list of do’s and don’ts for the gym as you embark on your quest to the new you.

The Do’s

1. During the first couple of months, be mindful of your time spent on any machine, whether it’s cardio or strength training machinery. As gyms will be busy with a lot of the same goals as yours, many newcomers will be looking to use just about every piece of equipment available. Some, because they’ve used it before and are re-introducing themselves, while others are experimenting.

2. Most exercise equipment will provide graphics and instructions on how to use them. Read and observe befoe attempting use. If, in fact, you are still uneasy about how to operate equipment, by all means, ask someone. Your best bet is someone who works there, such as a resident trainer.

3. Once you’re done with a piece of equipment, use the reserved disinfectant wipes or sprays to wipe it down. It doesn’t matter if you sweat on it or not, wipe it down, thoroughly. Imagine someone sweating profusely on a machine that you want to use. After they are done, they walk away, leaving puddles of their body fluid on the equipment. Exactly. IF someone uses equipment and they fail to wipe it down afterward, kindly approach them and ask them to, or you can always snitch on them to the gym staff, and they will have the member wipe it down. This one should have been ranked as the number one “do”, actually.

4. Eat before you work out. Too often, in my years, I’ve seen many people faint in the gym. Most were because of the lack of nutrition pre-workout. Give yourself an hour, at least, before going to the gym, to eat. An apple or banana or a cup of berries, or a protein drink. Also, while I’m on the subject of making an ass of yourself in the gym… If you have eaten but you still feel the sense of wanting to pass out, or even nauseous, stop, breathe, get some air. Let the feeling pass. There is a such thing as pushing too hard when you’re not accustomed to the strenuous work.

5. The gym staff will likely have a personal training service that will offer you a complimentary training session. Usually, that trainer will put you through a workout that will make you second guess your new you commitment. That’s unnecessary. Because these introduction sessions are offered as free, take advantage of it. Have the trainer give demonstrations of how to use the equipment. Most intro sessions are slotted for 30 minutes to nearly an hour. Use it to YOUR advantage. Trust me, after the free session, the trainer/salesperson will spend all the time they need to get you to purchase training packages. Using this session will do 2 things: (a) You learn to use the equipment, and (b) If the trainer is genuine and decent at their job, you will get a decent workout.

The “Do” list is brief. The “Don’ts”… that’s a different story. There are so many lines that can and will be crossed. But, rest easy, friends. I’m here to help.

The Don’ts

1. No matter what you have seen online, do not dance on the cardio equipment. As “cool” or “funny” as it looks, it’s stupid. I’m almost sorry for saying that… almost.

2. Never ever, ever leave your weight plates on the equipment or on the floor once you’re done using them. Don’t be that jackass. Always re-rack your weight. This goes for barbells, plate loading machines, and things of the like. Oh, and for the love of all things common sense and OCD, please put the dumbbells back in numerical order! It shoudl go without saying, but you would be surprised at how many people struggle with these simple common courtesies.

3. Do not put your towel, water bottle, phone, bag, small child, or shaker bottle on ANY piece of equipment as a gesture of temporary ownership. Placing these objects on the equipment does not guarantee anything. If your gym has people like me as members, your personal items would be placed on the floor so that I can use the “reserved” equipment. Not as an action of jerkery, but as a gesture of “I need this…”, sort of thing. I think the only thing that would lock that equipment down as yours– is to take a piss on it. Although effective, don’t do that either.

4. Speaking of equipment hoarding… that phone call you just got, that text you have to answer, that Facebook status you need to update, or that Tweet or Instagram selfie… Yeah. Don’t. Not between sets. Not in front of the dumbbell rack. Not in the squat– ever! Actually, leave the gym floor. Handle your business. then, continue with your work out. Oh, and while we’re here, can I mention one more thing? Talking loudly on your mobile device… No. There are a lot of annoying things a person can do in the gym. This one is close to being number one on the list.

5. Let’s move into the locker rooms… Personally, I never find myself in need of the gym showers. I find them to be extremely disgusting, and, likely, oozing in people dander. But, if you are a frequent user, take the next few requests, serious. First, the hand dryer and the hair dryer… these are not nuts dryers or ass dryers. If I walk into one more locker room and find someone standing butt-naked under a hand dryer, I’m going to puke!

6. Do not sit your bare ass on the bench or on a chair or on the countertops in the locker room. I will not elaborate. It’s one thing to leave a quickly fading sweat butt print on the gym benches and seats, but it’s completely different when your butthole actually makes contact with the surfaces.

7. In the gym, most of us where headphones or earbuds. These devices are used to cancel outside noise so that a person can really get in the “zone”. But, there seems to be aspiring singers/rappers and even flash mobbers, who forget where they are… or that they can’t sing or dance. Don’t forget. You can’t sing or dance.

8. Last, but not least, a list within a list. The following terms are completely played out, so please, do not use them: Bro, Toned, ‘Mirin, Bro Science, swole, diet, cleanse, gains (sorry, I meant “gainzzz”), off-season, and bulking. I could go on, but I will leave this here until I extend the list in different context. As for now, avoid using these terms. Cliches suck.
There. This should get you started in the right direction. Follow these simple rules, and you will experience great times in the gym, along with everyone else. As this new year begins, let that new you with new goals, get the job done… “bro”. Oops.



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