Petite Version of this Post
Given that I’ve frequented various gyms and boutique studios, I’ve discovered that etiquette isn’t always second nature. To folks joining a new gym or studio, or to my fellow classmates who need a gentle reminder, here are 10 tips on practicing good gym etiquette.
If you are short on time, please note that in Tip #3, I highly encourage the use of deodorant.
So this post is long overdue and perhaps would have been more timely if I shared it in time for New Year’s resolutions. But life has been busy the past few months with the holidays and the new year, and I thought this was the perfect post to share as my first of 2017.
With the influx of folks joining gyms or boutique studios as new members, I’ve realized and observed how gym etiquette isn’t necessarily second nature to everyone.
Below are 10 tips on gym etiquette, which I’ve broken down into pre-workout, during the workout, and post-workout.
Pre-Work Out Etiquette
1) Wait your turn
Upon entering the facilities, wait your turn to either check in at the front desk or claim a cubby or locker. Be aware of the folks surrounding you especially during peak hours since most people are rushing to make it to work in the morning, or home or dinner in the evenings.
2) Wear the appropriate footwear and take notice if they request you to remove your shoes
This applies to mainly barre or Pilates studios. Some studios or workouts ask that you kindly remove your shoes near the front door. And let’s face it – some workouts are better done with (sticky) socks or bare foot!
3) Wear deodorant
This is probably my biggest pet peeve. I understand working out can generate a good sweat. And I understand that quite a few of us don’t necessarily have armpits that smell like roses. But I beg of you, please wear deodorant. And please wear the good stuff. Perhaps an intense workout confined in a small space is NOT the best place to try out your natural deodorant. One might argue that a workout like Barry’s Bootcamp is a good place to put these natural products to the test. But I beg you not to do this.
In case you’ve forgotten, I am petite. I stand proud at 4’11”, but that means that my nose is directly in line with the armpits of someone with average height. I already have a hard enough time breathing while I’m running. I once had to discreetly switch treadmills due to suffocating on body odor. I did my best for the stinky person to not notice, but I had to. I chose life that day. I always choose life.
See #4 below regarding other body odors.
Etiquette during the workout
4) Be aware of your space
Please be aware of the space designated to you and designated to your neighbors. Most gyms or studios have mirrors. I encourage you to use mirrors to your advantage and stagger yourself between classmates so that your neighbors can see their own reflections in the mirror.
If it’s a dance class, be aware of how big or little space you use and if you’re running into your neighbors. Use your mirrors!
If you notice everyone crowding in one corner, try to find a new spot where you can still view the instructor.
Being aware of your space also means the air space around you. So if your tummy doesn’t feel good, please step outside if you need to take care of business or anything like that. Again, similar to #3 above, if I’m having a hard time breathing next to someone with body odor, let me just say that stink bombs are worse. I understanding that flatulence is natural, but working out is not the best place for that.
5) Wipe down equipment
Some of us sweat pretty. Some of us sweat and create puddles near our workout station. Whatever the case, please be sure to wipe down your equipment and area. Some studios will provide you with sanitizing wipes or a towel and disinfectant spray bottle. Don’t forget to return equipment to their appropriate spots as well!
At Barry’s Bootcamp, flip the mat over if you used one. No one wants to work out in someone else’s sweat.
This etiquette tip applies to post-workout rituals as well.
6) Be friendly
A nod of encouragement or smile towards your classmates goes a long way. Sometimes, even someone’s facial expressions of pure anguish encourage me to push even harder because the strength is in the struggle.
We are here to workout to push one another and continuously challenge our best selves. We are NOT here to compare ourselves to where we stand among our peers. We all have different goals and strengths, and it’s the camaraderie and communities we build that make us want to come back to the gym or studio.
7) Fall in line for the showers / changing rooms
Simply put, wait your turn. At most places, the veterans will have some unspoken system about how to secure your spot in line for the showers. Take note of what you observe and follow suit.
Some locker room communities allow you to grab your spot in line and use your shoes or water bottle to hold your spot for a minute or two while you grab your toiletries.
8) Keep time spent in the showers / changing rooms to a minimum
Rinse, Lather, but perhaps do not repeat.
As a general rule of thumb, a shower less than 5 minutes is courteous, but perhaps 6-7 minutes is more realistic. If you plan to take a long shower, please wait and place yourself in the back of the line so that no one is waiting for you. Or, you also have the option to leave class early (with the instructor’s permission). This way, if you want to be first in the showers, you have a few extra minutes in there. Gauge to see how much time the folks ahead of you take.
Some of the pros even take their spandex off prior to entering the showers so as not to waste time while in the shower stall.
There is no need to pat yourself completely dry in the stall either. That can be done outside in the main changing area.
If there is a main changing area, there is no need to use the private restrooms as your dressing room, especially if there is a line to actually use the facilities.
9) Be aware of your things and how much space they take
In a perfect world, everyone would have enough space for their gym bags, cosmetic bags, dirty clothes, towels, etc. But that is barely the case. I encourage you to be mindful of your belongings and try to keep them in one area, or a small pile that you designated for yourself, while making room for others if space allows.
Sometimes, it helps to get in a little bit early to organize your toiletries or belongings even before class starts. This way, you can easily grab the items you need right away.
10) Share the space
It is rare for locker rooms have enough space for everyone to have their own spot at the vanity / make up counter. That said, please be aware of the folks around you and perhaps make space if there is room. I’ve actually made quite a few friends near the vanity area while each of us are applying make-up.
If someone needs to plug in their flat iron, or hair dryer, offer them the nearest socket if they seem lost.
And if you find space, but no one seems to be making room for you, speak up and ask nicely. Most likely, they were not aware of your need for counter space or the socket because they are in a mad rush themselves.
Sharing the space also means treating the locker room with respect and cleaning up after yourselves. Please pick up after yourselves and don’t leave a pile of towels on the floor. Sure, the maintenance crew will pick up your towels, but they are not our maids! Respect the space and respect the staff.
Overall, be mindful of you and your surroundings and don’t be afraid to make friends around you. And in case you forgot… it’s really hard to make friends if the first thing they notice about you is body odor. Again, I am just pointing out Tip #3 above on behalf of my fellow petite folks down here who love to breathe fresh air. Please wear deodorant. Thank you!
In good health,