Northampton Press

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Respectfully Yours: gym etiquette

Friday, March 30, 2018 by JACQUELYN YOUST Special to The Press Dear Jacquelyn, in Focus

I recently joined a gym for the first time and am feeling very self-conscious. Are there gym etiquette rules that I should know so I don’t embarrass myself?

Dear Reader, Even at a gym, rules of etiquette should be followed. Sure, the social graces expected in a gym are a bit different from those expected at a formal dinner or wedding, but manners are important just the same.

The gym can be an intimidating place if you are new and your first few workouts might be stressful as you navigate new equipment and try to look like you’ve been doing this forever. One of the biggest reasons we’re afraid of gyms is that we don’t want to make mistakes, and we don’t want to appear foolish. For the newbie, I would suggest that you visit the gym during non-peak hours so you are not so uncomfortable. Following a few sensible gym rules will ensure the most productive and least annoying environment for everyone around you.

One main concern most people have is the fear people are judging you because you’re out of shape. However, the majority of people love seeing someone begin their journey to get in shape. They can relate because they know how hard it is to get started. Fear not, these early steps are nothing to be embarrassed about. Everyone at the gym had a first day. If you have a question and want to ask another member for workout advice, you should start the conversation by saying, “Do you mind if I ask you a question?” Most people are flattered and would like to help. On the other hand, do not approach people who have their headphones in. They are basically putting up a big “Do not disturb” sign, which they expect everyone to respect.

There are equipment courtesies to be mindful of. If you use a piece of equipment, don’t forget to wipe it down before and after you use it. If your gym doesn’t have towels, then bring your own. No one wants a dose of germs with their workout. Another equipment tip: If you use it, put it back where it belongs. Equipment should be returned to its designated spot. Though many gyms have enacted cellphone bans, people still feel compelled to answer them mid-workout. The gym is not the place to talk on the phone with your friends or deal with issues at work. Be courteous of other members. Put the phone on mute or leave it in your gym bag. If you need to take an important call, walk to a non-workout area or go outside. Talking on the phone while working out is a general no-no at the gym. There are a lot of unspoken rules of the gym that will make you feel more comfortable and help you avoid awkward glances from regulars. Be kind. Smile, and be courteous. The gym may not be the happiest place on earth, but it can’t hurt to try.

Respectfully Yours,


Have a question? Email: Jacquelyn Youst is owner of the Pennsylvania Academy of Protocol, specializing in etiquette training. She is on the board of directors of the National Civility Foundation. All Rights Reserved © 2018 Jacquelyn Youst