5 Gym Etiquette Tips for Beginners


By Lauren Giles

A brand-new year is upon us, and statistics show that up to 40% of people’s New Year’s resolutions will include going to the gym, whether they’ve resolved to work out more, lose weight, or live a healthier lifestyle. For many of us, that will mean going outside of our comfort zone and joining a gym, which can often be a little intimidating. To help limit your worries and slip into a new routine looking like you’ve been hitting the gym your whole life, here’s a short list of tips from a fitness center employee.

Take your weights (dumbbells, barbells) back to your bench instead of lifting right in front of the rack.

Here’s why: Way too many people stand right in front of the rack to do their sets, completely blocking other people from being able to come take/hang up the weights that they need.  Trust me, if you can’t carry them elsewhere, they’re too heavy and it’s safer to go down in weight.

Bridging off of that: Step to the side while chatting in the gym.

Here’s why: The gym can be a social place, especially once you’ve been there long enough to meet people and that’s great!  However, when I see someone go to take back a heavy weight and there are two people chatting, not noticing that it needs to be hung up where they’re standing, it can get dangerous. Step to the side and chat your hearts out, knowing that you’re not at risk of having someone drop a barbell on your foot.

Don’t work out in jeans or muddy shoes.

Here’s why: Muddy shoes might go without saying: some people do things like sit-ups on the ground and don’t want to crunch into dirt during their set. Jeans, however, may be less intuitive and some gyms actually won’t even allow them.  It seems like a personal choice and saves you from wasting time changing your clothes if you’re working out on your lunch break. The thing is-jeans have metal rivets which can cut into mats and padded benches. Little cuts allow moisture from sweaty bodies to seep in and can make the bench stinky and ruined. Ick.

Find out if your gym has cardio time limits and respect them.

Here’s why: Some places limit you to 30 minutes per cardio machine based on their equipment and number of members. If you think you might want to do more than that, you might want to find out before choosing your gym. But there are some people (like in the last example) who are working out on their lunch break or under other time constraints and want to use that machine too. Switch to weights for a while and circle back around, or to a different type of cardio machine.

Limit how much equipment you’re using at once.

You may be thinking, “But Lauren, I’m starting The Rock’s workout plan and it requires me to superset (translation: alternate between) dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, medicine balls, cables and machines!”

…You know why that’s not okay, right?  You’ll get very similar results if you just superset with just 2 pieces of equipment at a time (which everyone should understand) and no one will mess up your flow by asking you to share.

Lauren is part of the Contributing Writer Network at Thirty on Tap. To apply to become a Contributing Writer, please click here.

Photo by Leonardo Neckel on Unsplash


5 thoughts on “5 Gym Etiquette Tips for Beginners

  1. Todd S says:

    I think the most important one for me is racking weights properly. There’s nothing more annoying than to have to unload a bunch of plates or what have you to get to the weight you need. I really appreciate your post!! I workout in a medium-sized family owned gym and we don’t have this much of a problem, but it still happens, especially with a lot of new people. I’m not as OCD about stuff like this as others might be, but I do like a neat gym!


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