The Unwritten Rules of the Gym

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Determined man exercising with weight plates during exercise class in gym

Working out at a public gym can be intimidating. Giant meatheads and gangs of thirteen-year-olds can make even the simplest of workouts very uncomfortable for novice lifters. However, once you begin to understand proper gym etiquette, the gym turns from a place of dread and fear to a second home. But, the unwritten rules of the gym aren’t always so easy to pick up on, so I figured a nice list could be helpful to any beginners – or even experts – out there. 

Rule #1: Don’t ask to work in with multiple people

In my opinion, working out with a gym bro is one of the best parts about going to the gym. However, when you’re lifting with a buddy during peak gym hours, it’s often a struggle to find open machines. Even though you might be inclined to ask someone if you and your gym bro can work in, don’t be that guy. Everyone hates that guy. A quick five minute set on the pec deck machine will turn into a twenty-plus minute set for the three people using it, ruining not only your pump but the other people waiting as well. If you’re by yourself, feel free to ask to work in, but NEVER when you’re with other people.

Rule #2: Only wipe down equipment if it’s really sweaty

I used to be a stickler with wiping down equipment after I used it, but after spending an entire year using machines that could probably give me tetanus, I really don’t care that much anymore. My rule of thumb now is to only wipe equipment down if it looks like I poured an entire gallon of water on it or if someone is clearly waiting for me to finish (that last part is still 50/50 on whether I clean or not). Obviously, proper gym etiquette would be to always clean equipment before and after use, but no one actually does that. As long as there isn’t quite literally poop on the leg extension machine, who is taking time out of their day to wipe it down before they use it? That’s right – nobody. 

Rule #3: Don’t flex in the mirrors

If you look like Chris Bumstead or prime Arnold, flex away. But, if you have to convince yourself daily that you are in fact not obese, don’t flex in the gym mirrors. Do whatever you want in the locker room, I could care less. But for God’s sake, stop flexing in the mirrors in front of the free weights. Every time I see some scrawny kid doing a lat spread after an atrocious set of dumbbell rows, it genuinely ruins my workout. I get that flexing after each set actually has benefits, but the cringe is just not worth it. Once again, don’t be that guy. Everyone hates that guy. 

Rule #4: Cover up in the locker room

Unless you’re above the age of seventy, you should never be walking around the locker room completely naked. Although no one wants to see it, the geriatrics get a pass with this rule solely because no one wants to tell them to put some shorts on. However, I have no problem telling a person my age to cover up. If you’re going to shower, just throw a towel around your waist. This isn’t high school football. A public gym is just that – public. Anyone with such a burning desire to show other people their privates should start an OnlyFans. At least you’re getting paid money for that. 

Rule #5: Don’t slam weights

The Planet Fitness “Lunk Alarm” has been memed for many years at this point, but it’s got the right idea in mind. If you don’t follow any of the aforementioned rules I’ve laid out for you in this blog, please follow this one and don’t slam the weights. It might be the worst thing you could possibly do in the gym. If your goal is to be as annoying as possible, feel free to let the machine weights slam on every rep and be as loud as you can while deadlifting. But, if you’d like to positively contribute to the gym community, control the weights you use and be courteous of others. 

Hopefully, these now-written rules will help some of you on your journeys in the gym. Your school rec center or home gym shouldn’t be a place you hate going to, so help make it a better place by practicing solid etiquette (and always following rule number five). My last piece of advice is to just straight up avoid any girl recording her lifts. That will only end with humiliation and shame via TikTok.

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