From yoga and Pilates to circuits and supersets, there’s no right or wrong way to get in shape. Whatever it takes to break a sweat, right? But let's not leave that sweat on the mats (or that hair in the sink). From the locker room to the cardio zone, when it comes to gym etiquette, there are a few rules that everyone should follow—fitness karma points guaranteed.

The Weight Room

Gym Etiquette in the Weight Room

Respect the headphones

Singles , but people who have their headphones in are basically putting up a big "do not disturb" sign. So, save the chit chat for later.

Wax on, wax off

Sure, we may have hit the gym to avoid doing housework, but wiping down machines is a chore . (No one wants a side of germs and with their workout.)

Lift a finger

More chores, we know. But returning free weights, medicine balls, and other equipment to their proper places is —it might too!

Mind the mirror

Leave the lip gloss application, ab adoration, and for the boudoir. Gym mirrors are there for form and safety, so avoid crossing in front of Mr. Military Press mid-set.

Get in the zone

The right one, that is. From bicep curls to , there’s a proper place for everything at the gym—and trust us, you don’t want to learn the hard way.


Sometimes there just aren’t enough toys for everyone. Let a stranger “work in.” And rather than standing idly by, maximize your time and efforts with a few killer supersets.

Easy does it

While every gym has its own policy, most prefer it to be earthquake-free. Avoid dropping heavy weights like hot cakes—and leave excessive grunting off the menu while you're at it.

The Cardio Zone

Gym Etiquette in the Cardio Zone

Don’t let it all hang out

While it’s unlikely grandma’s showing up, Cardio Sculpt is a long ways from Woodstock. To keep things kosher, make sure are under wraps.

Give some breathing room

It’s no secret that cardio can get a little sticky-icky sometimes. So when there’s a choice of seven free treadmills, is it really necessary to cozy up right next to ? Scout out a more secluded treadmill instead.

Get mobile without the mobile phone

Chatting on a treadmill is a . There are exceptions, including firing up fitness apps like Runkeeeper or Fitbit to stay on track. But otherwise, it's safer (and less annoying) to keep your eyes off your phone and on the road (er, treadmill).

Play it straight

Interval training aside, keep the treadmill stunts to a minimum (unless of course you’re ).

No spitting, snot rocketing, or other barnyard behavior

This should go without saying, but spend enough time in a gym and . Do not pass go; proceed directly to the hand sanitizer (stank face optional).

No marking your territory

Saving seats was so not fair in middle school—and not much has changed since then. So don’t expect that towel, water bottle, or fanny pack (workout fashion 911!) to mean “dibs” on the elliptical.

The Studio

Gym Etiquette in the Studio

Arrive early

Fashionably late doesn’t apply when it comes to group classes. Plan to arrive at least to find a spot and settle in without disruption.


Sun salutations should be PG, so make sure the arms and legs can extend fully—without feeling up your neighbor. Like on public transportation, for an improper touch.

Go with the flow

Class energy matters, so go ahead and chant those —just not in meditation class. There’s a time and a place for ohm-ing, panting, and screaming out reps.

No peeping Toms!

Maybe Tom was late. Or maybe he’s just taking notes. Chances are the ladies (and gents) of Pole Dancing 101 aren’t appreciating the hardcore ogling from the other side of the glass.

Be kind

Now this applies to all areas of the gym: Smile, be courteous, and even (Using words instead of grunts or whistles is almost always preferable). The gym may not be the happiest place on earth (that’s Disney World, right?), but it can’t hurt to try.

The Locker Room

Gym Etiquette in the Locker Room

Put hygiene first

While some people are actually , for the rest of us, there’s no excuse for smelling like those gym socks. And no, isn’t an alternative quick fix.

Groom in private

Flossing, tweezing, and anything but the hair on your head is a big locker room no-no. When in doubt, save the intimate stuff for the homestead.

Hide the salami

Seriously. Not everyone grew up in a naked home. Lounging, stretching, and chit chatting in the buff might feel fantastic to you, but you're bound to make someone else uncomfortable. We all need boundaries, right Martin, J. Harvard Business Review, 2003 Dec; 81 (12):41-5, 124.?

Pack it up

Bench hogs, take note: Sneakers, gym bags, laptops, and lap dogs don’t all deserve a spot on the bench. Especially during peak hours, lock up those belongings to give fellow gym-goers space to suit up.

Originally published November 2011. Updated December 2014.

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