How Not to Tick People Off at the Gym

From the WebMD Archives

By Lexi Lampel

There’s always that one person at the gym who seems hell-bent on ruining your workout. He’s breathing down your neck as he waits for you to finish using the treadmill. She keeps dropping her weights on the floor and doesn't put them back on the rack. But has it ever occurred to you that you too could be the guilty party from time to time? When we share a space as intimate and crowded as the gym, it’s easy to forget that the seemingly obviously rules of etiquette apply to us all. Here are a few reminders and tips on how to not be that person.

1. Wipe down your equipment.

You might think no one saw you walk away from the treadmill without wiping off your sweat, but think again. He or she has probably been shooting quick glances at you to see if you've finished so that they can begin, which means your lack of hygiene didn't go unnoticed. Performing this common courtesy will take you two minutes, help others avoid infections and prevent you from gaining a rep as someone who's gross.

2. Keep your grunting to a minimum.

It's natural to be a little vocal when you're exerting yourself physically, but there's no need to let out a full-on war cry when you're lifting weights in a room full of others. Bellowing as you work out distracts other people from their own routine, even if they're wearing headphones. If you absolutely cannot live without the combination of primal-scream therapy and exercise, save it for the workouts you do at home.

3. Don't hog the equipment if you're not actually using it.

Going to the gym with a friend is a great motivator, but don't just sit next to each other on the rowing machines and chat. Other people who actually want to use the machines are waiting for you to move. Hogging machinery at the gym is even more obnoxious during peak times like early evening, when many people are getting off of work. If you want to catch up with your BFF, go grab some dinner.


4. Reach for deodorant instead of perfume.

It’s perfectly natural to be self-conscious about how you smell when you’re drenched in sweat at the gym, but dousing yourself in perfume can be just as gag-inducing as if you hadn’t showered in days. Some people are more sensitive to fragrances than others; you don’t want to cause the person next to you to start sneezing or ruin somebody’s workout by giving him or her a headache. By simply practicing good hygiene and putting on deodorant in the locker room, you can neutralize those offensive odors.

5. Don’t crowd others when it’s not crowded.

If multiple treadmills are available, choose a machine that’s furthest away from the one that’s occupied. There's something slightly creepy about suddenly looking up from your cardio machine and noticing someone right next to you in an otherwise empty gym. Let people enjoy their exercise during a time when it’s less crowded than usual. By being considerate and giving people a wider berth, you can maintain your good standing at the gym.

6. Keep your workout advice to yourself.

It’s tempting to speak up if you notice that someone’s form could be improved or that equipment is being used incorrectly, but the most helpful thing that you can do is stay out of it. While your heart might be in the right place, there are few things more aggravating than warding off unsolicited advice at the gym. You could also find yourself trying to correct a trainer who is practicing a new method that you don’t know about yet, which would make you look pretty foolish. Save yourself the embarrassment and focus on correcting your own form!

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