June 25, 2010

Health Club Etiquette 101

Have you ever been working out on a cardio machine at the gym when you start to notice the stench coming from the person next to you? I have, and felt that I had 2 options: vomit or jump off and find something else to continue my workout on. This article covers the etiquette that we need to have to each other and for ourselves at your local fitness club.

By Diana Rodriguez
Medically reviewed by Lindsey Marcellin, MD


You may be in your exercise zone when you're running, stepping, or pumping iron at the gym, but remember that you're sharing equipment and space with others, which means good manners are mandatory.

At the Health Club: Essential Etiquette

Most gyms and health clubs have rules that they ask patrons to follow, and they're often posted in visible areas so they're easy to remember. Gym rules are put in place to remind people to be polite and considerate of other gym members, and for general health and sanitation purposes.

There are some rules that you'll find at most gyms, and general ways to be considerate when you're working out with others at the gym:

Your appearance. Some gyms and health clubs may have rules about certain apparel; for instance, women may not be allowed to work out in only a sports bra without a shirt over it, and men may not be allowed to go topless. Also, be sure to wear proper footwear, and always wear socks to help absorb sweat and odor. Make sure that you're dressed appropriately and safely for your workout.Your hygiene. Be considerate of those around you and be sure to put on deodorant before you work out. But don't load up on heavy perfumes or colognes — some scents can be offensive or distracting to others, and may cause problems for those with asthma or allergies.Using machines. There are often limits on how long you can use a machine in a health club, particularly at busy times. Pay attention to those limits and respect them. There are probably other people waiting to use that machine, but you can always come back to it later and take another turn.Take turns. Someone may be waiting in line to use a machine, or some people may have an order in which they do machines per their workout routine. Before you get on a machine, it's polite to check with people standing around to make sure they weren't planning on using that machine next.Your mom doesn't work there. Clean up after yourself! If you've sweated all over a machine, wipe it down with a towel or sanitary wipes if the gym offers them for cleaning machines. Wipe down the handles, the seat, the back — anything that you've touched, particularly if it's gotten sweaty.Put away workout equipment. When you've finished using equipment such as dumbbells, stability balls, and mats, put them back where they belongs so others can find them easily.Leave your cell phone at home. You go to the gym to work out, relieve stress, and relax, right? So do all the others there; they didn't come to listen to your phone conversation. So keep the cell phone turned off and stowed away, and save the conversations until you’ve walked out the door.Be quiet. Many people like to focus on their workouts, which can be difficult to do if the person on the machine beside them has their headphones blaring or is carrying on a loud conversation. Keep your voice and your music low, and be mindful of not disturbing other exercisers. At the Health Club: Running Into Rudeness

When you're careful to follow the rules and health club etiquette but run into people who don’t, talk to them about it. If you approach the person calmly and considerately, you'll often get a polite response. If she's still rude and difficult to deal with, it's probably time to get a manager or other staff member at the gym to deal with the situation.

You want to enjoy a workout without distractions or dealing with inconsiderate people. Just take a little extra time to be sure you do the same for others.

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