What To Do/Not To Do At The Gym

I love working at a fitness facility.  As you may have gathered from my blog over the years, I love just about anything to do with physical fitness.  As a trainer, health coach, and running coach I spend a lot of time at the gym and over the past few weeks I have been taking note of a few things you should and shouldn’t be doing when you are there.

I know that for many people, going to a gym can be intimidating.  I am often asked what the best rules are to follow.  Some are written and some are just assumed.  Let’s go over a few of the recent ones that I have come across.

Do wear athletic shoes.  If I had a dollar for every time I saw a person walking around in just socks or flip flops, I would make a decent allowance.  First of all, we do try to keep the fitness floor as clean as possible.  But I recommend taking a moment to look around at how many sweaty people drip all over those floors.  Second, take a moment to notice how many heavy things are carried around and how unobservant other members are.  It only takes one small accident for a large weight or piece of equipment to land on your bare foot.  Wear athletic shoes.  They are made just for this type of facility and come in some rather fashionable styles too!

Do wear fitness clothes/Don’t wear swimwear.  Fitness clothes serve a purpose as well.  They protect certain areas of your body (hello chafing) and also keep certain areas of your body from showing.  Swimsuits are meant for the pool or other bodies of water and are not meant to be used for exercise.  They don’t necessarily keep you covered up and don’t guarantee that parts of your body will stay where they should be.


This is definitely an attention getter!

Don’t take on the world the moment you walk in the gym.  There is no rule that says you must go 100% when you are at the gym.  It is recommended that we get 30 minutes of cardiovascular activity in, three times per week.  It is much better for you and your body to do 30 minutes of moderate activity than to run yourself ragged for 5 minutes.  Whether you are trying to get into shape or lose weight, 30 minutes of moderate activity will reap far more benefits than a short burst of tough activity.  You will likely enjoy yourself much more and find it easier to return to your workouts.


Do wear deodorant/wash your clothes.  Maybe it is just my over active pregnant sense of smell but there’s a lot of funk going on in the gym these days.  Sure we all sweat, and yes it can stink.  But slap on some deodorant before you hit the elliptical.  And for the love of Jane Fonda, please please please swap out your clothes between workouts.  I have an acquaintance who comes in a few times each week and only makes the switch for laundry day.  To say it is cringe worthy, is putting it very lightly.


Don’t compare yourself or avoid mirrors.  I have so many clients who refuse to workout in front of mirrors.  As an athlete who has spent far too many years criticizing my own body, I beg of you to please use mirrors to help make sure you are doing exercises properly.  I can assure you that you are your toughest critic.  Just as you are consumed with worry about your own appearance, so is 99% of the rest of the gym. No one is worrying about you because they are just as worried about themselves.  Take a look in the mirror.  Appreciate your body.  By seeing yourself now, you will be able to truly notice the changes as you continue to exercise.

It’s your gym.  Try everything and learn what you enjoy the most.  I always encourage members to truly take advantage of their membership.  Try everything.  Ask if you aren’t sure how to use something.  Try equipment that interests you.  Take a class that sounds fun.  Make the most of what you pay for.

What are your gym do’s and don’ts?  

23 thoughts on “What To Do/Not To Do At The Gym

  1. While not a do or don’t, I have seen some incredibly bizarre things at the gym over the years. That could be another fun post!
    The highlights were the lady walking on the treadmill eating yogurt and then the lady dying her hair in the bathroom. Good times! 🙂

    • FaceTime, phone calls, all of it. People can be very rude. When I was a member of a gym in Chicago I watched employees confront a woman on a treadmill who was so into her music she was shouting/singing. It was so unbelievable. I couldn’t imagine that she didn’t realize how loud she was!

  2. I once saw someone drinking a Starbucks frappucino type drink (or something from Starbucks that wasn’t really coffee and in a cup with a dome lid) on the treadmill at a gym.

    Also, I have forgotten shoes at the gym before. It happened a few years ago when I belonged to a gym with a ton of classes. There was a yoga class starting soon and I decided to just go to that because no shoes are needed in yoga.

    • Great idea when you are without shoes!

      The frappucino thing seems like a fun way to even things out. Totally kidding. I thought you were going to say you saw someone drinking wine on the treadmill once. I’m sure it has happened before!

  3. It took me a while to figure out the mirror thing! I just use the treadmill & always avoided the ones in front of the mirrors, until I was forced to use them one day. I could see my form and it helped so much!

    • I have never understood how girls with long hair can workout/run with it down. I see women do this in Central Park all of the time and my only guess is that they are trying to keep their hair nice for later in the day. I would have a fit trying to run or workout like that!

  4. Don’t dry your wet undies with the hair dryers. Don’t use the foam rollers on your back when shirtless if you have bad back acne. I worked in a gym for three years, the things you see!!

  5. hey, there’s nothing wrong with Starbucks at a gym!! though i’m lucky enough to have a gym at Starbucks…really we do have one, and a nice one too 🙂 people that won’t clean off the equipment drive me nuts…the worst ones are those that are doing some kind of interval workout that involves jumping on and off the treadmill every 5 mins, thus potentially dripping onto multiple different mills…if you’re gonna do that, then clean it every time, ugh…guys yelling and grunting when weight lifting and i mean screamin like look at me – wtf is that…lower the weight asshole…and locker room etiquette, you could probably write a book on – can’t speak to the womens, but a lot of guys are seriously effin’ pigs i mean do you really gotta spit into everything in sight as soon as you get done?!!! oh, and checking your text, social media, general phone stuff while spreading your crap out everywhere…ok, that’s all for now…fun post Sarah!!

    • I seemed to have hit a nerve! ;). My husband says men are gross in the locker rooms, but so are many women. One thing he mentioned is how many men go in the sauna nude and then proceed to do a workout in there. Fastest way to get people to leave! Wiping equipment down is a big one. I think it’s a combo of laziness and disrespect. And just plain gross!

  6. haha – loads of great (in a funny and gross way) comments! Glad I couldn’t get to this before 🙂

    I have only done the gym for about a year after first moving to NY, but I agree that people can be gross/rude/bizarre. My personal peeves:
    – Wiping down equipment
    – Hogging machines – especially things like just sitting watching TV or sitting waiting for another piece of equipment
    – Spitting on the floor.
    – ‘Meat Market’ … I was going to the gym at 6AM where >50% of people all worked for Corning.
    – Talking business – I actually said once ‘guys, this is NOT a Corning facility’ (again, with >50% Corning people there, sometimes people get lax).
    – Personal space. Always respect others … especially when naked.
    – ‘Just the facts’ – the shaving thing you mention was bizarre, and I also saw people doing gross things in the locker room. C’mon, work out, shower, change, leave.

    All of this makes me glad I just go out and run by myself every day! 😀

    • Yes. It does make you appreciate being able to step outside and go for a run in your own terms. Spitting on the floor?! Eww! Hogging machines is a personal pet peeve. I see so many people who sit on a weight machine and do one set and then remain there for 5 minutes listening to something on playing on their phone. It’s a shame how rude and self centered our phones have made us.

  7. For me the biggest is people hogging machines. It’s almost always the same scenario where the person is on their phone, sitting on the equipment, between reps. Sure, I could always ask them if I could work in with them, but that requires changing the settings every time, wiping down the equipment, etc., so I usually just move on to something else but it’s extremely frustrating.

    • Ah, I just commented on that earlier too. I rarely use the machines at the gym, but I see this all of the time when I am training people. The part that I find to be so rude is when they notice you and quickly look down at their phone, so as to not have to interact with you. We have become far too into our phones. I’m totally with you on this one!

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