Trainers Reveal The Worst Habits You Can Have at the Gym

You pay good money for your gym membership, so you want to be able to get the most of your workout when you arrive. If you get there about the same time everyone else is there, you are probably going to end up waiting for one or more machines, that’s to be expected. But when the gym is full like that, you should also expect people to behave with courtesy. Sometimes they will disappoint you, though. Hopefully, you haven’t picked up any of these bad behaviors. If you recognize yourself or someone you know in the following list, it’s time to make some changes.


This is by far the worst showing of what no one wants to deal with in the person ahead of them in line. The hoarder comes to the machine and stays way longer than is socially acceptable. It is bad enough when they stay too long at a station. But the worst offenders grab several pieces of equipment that they can only use one or one set of at a time, like weights and bands and a few other items. They lay them all around them and use each one for long stretches of time, but will not concede use of the other items claiming loudly and to all who will listen they are using them right now.

Mediocre super-setters.

A super-set is when you are alternating back and forth between two different exercises. It works great to maximize your time at the gym, but it’s going to tick a lot of muscle-bound people off when you are doing it at peak hours with a “full house.” If you are going to do this, at least make sure the two pieces of equipment you are tying up are close together. That way no one is trying to track you down to learn if a machine is still being used. Here’s the rule of thumb to follow – if the gym is busy, super-setting should not be done. If you want to show up at 3 a.m., that will probably be a good time for the luxury super-setting workout.

Just like a wrecking ball…oooh oooh.

Yep, you guessed it, the person singing along with the tunes playing on their earphones. And they aren’t doing it in a low whisper either. Even if you have an amazing singing voice, which let’s face it, most people just aren’t THAT good, it’s not polite. It’s distracting, and people are not there for a concert. They are there to work out. They might even be there to work out some aggression or frustration, so you singing at the top of your voice a little off-key might just get you tossed out on your ear.

Texting menace.

This one isn’t really hurting other people. But according to recent studies, most gym goers end up wasting up to 35% of their time there texting, reading and replying to emails, and taking phone calls. They might also be checking their Twitter feed or updating their status on Facebook. Really, if you are going to waste more than one-third of your time at the gym, why not just go for a shorter workout and then leave to do all those things. To stop this flagrant misuse of your time, leave the iPhone in your gym locker, or turn it on airplane mode. Don’t look at it for anything unless it is to switch playlists for a better workout song.  

Mr. (or Ms.) know it all.Despite all the time you have spent in the gym and everything you may have learned, unless you are a personal trainer for that person, don’t tell them what they should do. Also, don’t tell them how they need to change their moves. Even, if it is true. If you know the person already, you can always ask if they have ever considered doing that move by …instead of how they are doing it now. That’s about as far as you should ever go. We can hear that little voice in your head, even from where we are … “but, I learned the right way, and he’s not doing it right…” Here’s the thing. A lot of moves are similar but done in different ways will work different muscles. Since you have no idea what objectives and goals that person is working on, you should just keep yourself out of that equation.

The imitator.

Seeing someone do a move with a certain amount of weight and thinking to yourself, “we’re about the same size, so that’s the weight I’m going to use as well.” You make that decision even though you’ve never done the move before, and you’ve only seen it from a distance and, of course, the guy doing it just before you. He may or may not be doing it correctly, and you don’t have any idea what weight he started with on his first attempt. He might have been doing that move every day for the last five years, and even he admits it’s a bit heavy for him. You step up thinking “I got this.” Instead what you got is an injury that may take weeks or even months to heal. Not a good choice.

The liability.

Don’t be getting too close to others when they are doing their work, this is especially true when weights are involved. You could be limiting their full-range of motion, or you could be putting yourself in the pathway to an injury. Give people the space they need and give them the stink eye if they start violating your space. Also, keep your space clear of other items. Water bottles, plates, or anything hard that could go flying and hit someone (including you) if a weight is dropped and lands on it.

The space invader.

This guy is a close cousin to #7 – the liability. They share some common traits. If someone is standing too close, politely ask them to give you more room. If they continue to do it, or come back and do it again – talk with a staff member. If it is an ongoing problem with that guy, it may be time for him to hit the road permanently.

Barefoot Barney.

www.shape.comWorking out barefoot can be a great feeling, it can also be good for stability issues. If you have some hygiene issues with your feet, or you are one of those people whose feet are much more stinky than the average person, scrub them down with plenty of soap right before you start your workout. Alternatively, always wear your shoes and socks while at the gym. If you want to do some barefoot workouts, do those at home or outdoors in wide open spaces.

Can you spot my every move lifter?

For the most part, there are only two lifting moves that require a spotter. Those would be chest press (including fly variations) and squat lifts. Don’t be that guy always asking for a spotter for every lift you do. Other people at the gym are there to work out for their goals. Sure they can and probably will be happy to help when it is a safety issue. But please don’t infringe on their time unless necessary. If you happen to be one of the rare exceptions that does need a spotter much more often, then you should hire a trainer. He can be there to assist you with every workout or bring a friend who understands that is the reason he’s there.

Spoiled Brat.

If you use a portable piece of equipment, put it back where it belongs when you are done with it. Don’t expect someone else to come along and clean up your messes. Your maid or mother are not there to make everything right again for you. You joined the gym for a workout, just figure that part of the work you are getting done is carrying those heavy weights back to their spot. And by the way, if your mom or maid is picking up after you still – maybe it’s time to become an adult.

The Exhibitionist.

You’re at the gym, you are occasionally shifting and flailing, and lifting your legs in pull-ups to add a bit more difficulty to your routine. So please put on some underwear that will keep your stuff where it is supposed to be and out of the public eye. If you want to show off a bit, strike a pose and show us your biceps or triceps. Just don’t show us your family jewels. And ladies that goes for you too. Put on the appropriate foundation garments for a good workout. The gym is not a peep show.

Pick-up artist.

If you think someone at the gym is attractive, you can always make a passing comment to them when they are waiting for a machine or taking a minute to enjoy some juice. Don’t linger and certainly don’t leer. It’s not attractive, it’s downright creepy and yucky. Just like you, members of the opposite sex are there to get in a workout, not to hook up. Being friendly is fine, but staring or staying too long is just not cool. If you are certain she’s interested, try to make eye contact. If it works and they maintain eye contact for more than a glance, you might have a chance. You might mention the possibility of coffee one morning before work and see how that goes. But if she won’t make eye contact with you, you are probably freaking her out more than just a little – or she’s so uninterested in you that you aren’t even registering on her radar.

The conversationalist.

If you can carry on a normal conversation with a friend while you are both doing your workout, maybe treadmills, bikes or ellipticals, then you are just not working hard enough. If the workout you are doing bores you, start adding some other machines to your program. Maybe try some workouts outdoors and away from the gym some of the time. If you are feeling the need for some socializing, then arrange for time after the workout when you and your friend(s) can sit down. You might decide to enjoy a treat or sit on a park bench enjoying beautiful weather while you have a lovely chat. At the gym – do your workout!

The dropper.

Or the drama queen. This guy lifts weights and then drops them at the end of the lift. If you’ve done a long session of lifting to muscle failure, a slight drop may be something you just couldn’t avoid that one time. If someone is doing it at every weight station, he’s not only telling everyone “look at me.” He’s also quite possibly destroying equipment and putting your safety at risk. That drop can bend or warp the bar that holds the weights. When that happens, the weights are not as stable and could either come off the bar, or the bend could compromise how you have to hold the bar putting unnecessary stress on muscles and joints. Many gyms will fine you for dropping weights and if you see someone do it more than once you might want to inform the staff, so your safety is not compromised down the road.

Mr. Grunt.

You go to the gym, and there are a lot of different noises happening. There’s the whirl of the treadmills and bikes, the looping of ellipticals and stairclimbers. There’s the clank of weights being lifted in the universal gym equipment and the snatches of conversation or instruction from a trainer. And then there’s some grunting going on too. For the most part, grunting is not a bad thing, it’s an expected part of doing certain exercises properly. But then there comes a different kind of grunt, the extended grunt of an animal desperately pulling itself away from danger and toward safety and just not making it. If you’ve pushed yourself so hard that the grunts emanating from you are pitiful wounded animal sounds. It is time to stop that move. You are either on the verge of causing yourself damage, or desperately seeking someone to come along and make sure you are going to survive. Stop, move on to something where you don’t have to make that sound, please!

The sweater.

Okay, you came to the gym so you could sweat, and everybody is there for the same reason, so that isn’t the problem. The problem is when your sweat covers the equipment and you walk away without wiping it down and drying it. This person is the older brother or sister to #11 spoiled brat. When you leave your sweat behind, you are leaving behind bacteria. You are also leaving behind a hazardous situation. Wet equipment means the next person’s grip may be slippery, and that can cause them to drop equipment or even fall into equipment unexpectedly. Dude – don’t leave your sweat behind. It’s not pretty, and it’s not shine, it’s just disgusting.

The salesman.

You are getting your workout on and along comes a guy or gal offering their personal (or at the gym) training services for their regular price. They are there trying to drum up business while you are there to get your workout done. Even if you are looking for a trainer, it probably isn’t the best choice to go with someone who just comes along to offer you their services. A trainer needs to fit certain criteria that will best help you move forward if that is what you decide you need. There is no way to tell that with Joe or Jill Schmoe, who drops by while you are spinning and says they have the perfect plan to get you where you want to go. Tell them you appreciate the offer but you are not interested in their services at this time. If you’ve got headphones, put them on, even if you don’t bother with the music. It’s the universal symbol for “no time to talk with you now.”

Shrugging Steve.

Using the squat rack when you are doing shrugs or curls, not cool. The squat rack is for those doing leg work. If you need a place for shrugs or curls, try the Smith machine. But if you are doing bicep curls – you only need a preacher bar or set of dn in the gym, well, knock yourself out.  

Ms. selfie.

Sweaty selfies to post on your fitness page are great. But either take one very quickly and be on your way or do it someplace where no one else wants to be. Staying at the workout station you just finished to take your selfie while there are two or more people waiting to use that machine is arrogant and inconsiderate. Move it along!

There you have it, the 20 worst gym etiquette offenders as we see them. Want to know more about these characters? Check out worst-gym-etiquette.

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