He threw the first punch, I swear… and other gym etiquette rules

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“He threw the first punch, I swear!” is not the outcome you want after your afternoon workout session!

However, that being said, many people do in fact deserve being punched at the gym! The guy that looks you up and down when you’re at the water fountain, the guy that talks really loud about how much weight he can bench and then grunts as he lifts, the girl on the elliptical on the phone gossiping about Friday night, the super sweaty guy that must roll ALL OVER the mat as he does abs and stretches and then doesn’t wipe up after himself… you get the idea. All that being said, can you believe that I actually enjoy going to the gym?! Anyway, here are some simple gym etiquette rules to help ease some of that tension when it comes to sharing equipment or keeping to yourself…


If there’s a line for a machine (or the 1 set of 12 lb. dumbbells the gym owns), work a rotation so your downtime doesn’t create a line.

  • Pick up a jumprope to add some cardio, branch out and try other exercises, go up or down a weight size (adjusting reps) or ask to rotate.

Be aware of other people politely waiting for machines from a short distance – don’t just dart and grab, observe.

  • I don’t like to hover over someone or stand and waste time so I’ll do something else until the item is free. I can’t tell you how many times someone walking by will just grab it or sit down. I know I can’t expect everyone to know that I was waiting but a quick look to see if someone is anticipating would be polite.

During peak hours, respect the limits on cardio machines.  It’s always best to rotate anyway!


Dropping the weights to the floor when finished with your set.

  • Seriously, it’s just obnoxious. Plus, here I go again on a re-rack your weights tangent but come on, put away those damn 45 lb. plates!

Loud grunting

  • Small grunting allowed only if you are genuinely exerting energy but I find that it’s always when other big boys or hot girls in sports bras are around.

Scoping for babes.

  • This doesn’t need any reiteration – you know who I’m talking about.

Tech Gadgets

Need to take a call?  Leave the active area.

  • This is like having a conversation in the bathroom. Don’t sit on a machine, lean against a treadmill or sit on the mats and yap!

Musical Arrangements

  • Don’t grab a popular machine and THEN decide to stand there and fuss with your mp3 player.

Wait, there’s a disclaimer!

  • Tech in the gym is getting tricky because people are using their phones for workout tracking (myself included) so sometimes looks can be deceiving. Really, I’m not tweeting all my friends about the cute boy doing pushups over there… or maybe I am.

Leave your best, worst or favorite gym etiquette (or lack thereof) story in the comments! WithAmyMac.com

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