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This post was going to be dedicated to the guy next to me in my group workout who wore so much Axe body spray, I smelled it on myself after I got home to complain about him to Dominick. (Thank you parabens.) Now it’s dedicated to the woman with gymtimidation I talked to yesterday that said she thought this info would help people just getting started at the gym. 

You’re at risk of getting judged anytime, anywhere, by anyone. Understandably you may feel more vulnerable after tugging on leggings that you’re not totally sure hide your cellulite. The answer to that fear is you do you, haters gonna hate. Don’t let it hold you back from stepping into the weight room. 

Respecting the shared space and its inhabitants is another story. If you don’t want people fuming at you (like I was towards Mr. Axe), here are a few pieces of gym etiquette that aren’t totally intuitive – especially to new gym-goers:

Dealing with sweat

I might lose some people here since this seems totally basic, but it has to be said. Come to the gym clean, with clean clothes, and wear deodorant. Bring a towel if your gym doesn’t supply them, and make sure to wipe off equipment after use. 

As a particularly sweaty person, I like to bring my towel as insurance. I don’t like people to see my knee-sweat imprint on the assisted pull up machine. Anywhere my body is going to make contact with other equipment, I set my towel down first. It’s still important to clean everything off with a gym wipe or other ~clean~ towel after use.

Free weights

Make sure not to do your workouts so close to the dumbbell rack that people would have to enter your personal space to grab the weights they might need for their own workout.

Mirrors in gyms are great for ensuring proper form. Don’t block peoples’ views of themselves. If you need to walk through someone’s line of sight due to crowding or gym layout, do your best to wait until they’re done with their set. 

Sharing. Don’t stockpile 4 different sets of weights you’ll need throughout your 45-minute workout, and make sure to put everything away when you’re done. 


For sweaty selfies, don’t plant yourself in an inconvenient spot, and respect other people’s privacy. Photo bombers are a different story.

When you’re using machines or equipment, limit phone use. Even if it doesn’t seem like it, someone else might be waiting for you to finish, and you’re wasting both of your time. 

(are you on Pinterest? pin this image, so this word hits your fellow gym-goers)

When what you need isn’t available

First, maybe it is. A major signal that a machines and barbells are in use: they’re “loaded” with weighted plates. This is part of the reason it’s so important to RERACK YOUR WEIGHTS, so as not to send mixed signals. Other signs to look for: stuff. If there’s a notebook or a towel sitting on a bench, the person using it is probably taking a bathroom break or grabbing water. 

Ask to “work in” if appropriate. For example, when someone is using a squat rack you can ask if it’s okay that you share and do your sets during their rest periods. It’s only an inappropriate ask if you’d need to adjust the height setting or swap a bunch of plates every time you switch.

Ask how many sets the user has left so you can plan your workout. Only jerks get mad about this.

Gym etiquette isn’t anything crazy. It all boils down to respect. The challenge is that you won’t always know how your actions are affecting others since you’re not sure what their workout plan is. To tackle that uncertainty, just assume someone is waiting in line for anything you’re using – including the space you’re occupying.

Thanks for reading!

P.S. Still got loads of excuses to keep self-sabotaging and skipping all your workouts? Totally normal. Here’s the solution.

P.P.S. Grab a cool freebie here!! I wrote a post about what “before” measurements you should track to stay motivated and created a little downloadable/printable tracker. It’s pretty cute, too 😉 

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