We’re all familiar with some of the common mores of gym etiquette. Don’t abuse the equipment (i.e. dropping plates like they’re on fire), re-rack your weights, don’t monopolise machines, stop shamelessly hitting on women, put your equipment back where it belongs. Then there are those under-the-radar rules of the more common courtesy, pet-peeve variety — that don’t have much to do with gym equipment, but have everything to do with being a self-aware human co-existing politely with others in tight, sometimes vulnerable spaces (hello, locker rooms). We present you with these lesser known — but no less important — gym-going guidelines.
Do: Follow the “three farts and you’re out” rule
Listen, flatulence happens. Whom among us hasn’t accidentally let some hot wind go mid-squat? I’m not here to dress down people’s digestive systems for doing their jobs. I am here to take issue with those whose foul vapours do not exist in a toot vacuum — rather, they form a concerning, crop-dusting pattern. Especially when that pattern is unfolding inside a group class. Particularly when that class is a hot yoga session whose boiling environs feel like the inside of a Kuwaiti shoebox.
One fart happens to the best of us. Twice, OK, I guess. Three times? Sir, I’m going to have to ask you to excuse yourself to the nearest facility. Do you realise how close our mats are — and that your rippers are not silent? Please do not continue to casually do “happy baby,” toes innocently grabbed, cheeks elevated and open to the world. This isn’t part of my membership, man.
Don’t: Treat the locker room like your own personal bathroom
The locker room is a communal space. And just in case we’re not familiar with which personal hygiene tasks shouldn’t be performed in communal spaces, here is a brief, non-comprehensive list: Dry shaving one’s legs on a bench; toenail clipping; laying out a veritable salon’s worth of facial lotions, body creams, bespoke hair treatments, and makeup; and dyeing one’s hair in the shower (yes DYE-ing, like with boxed hair colour, we have seen it with our own two eyes).
Of course, no locker room etiquette takedown would be complete without mentioning the scourge formally known as: Naked People Standing Around For An Hour Just Talking and Being Super Naked (and trying to talk to you while all the bits they were born with dangle free). If you’re one of those free-spirited souls who’s comfortable letting it all hang out in a public space, kudos to your lack of fucks to give — sincerely. But please, this isn’t the French Riviera, it’s a sweat hole in central Jersey. Let’s take other people’s delicate, Puritan sensibilities into consideration and towel up.
Do: Collect your hair from the shower wall
This one goes out (mostly) to the ladies with long-ish hair (myself included). Let us not leave a quantity of hair on the shower wall that could reasonably be sent off to Locks of Love. I get the urge to gather the massive amount of shed follicles in one spot, rather than letting them trickle down the drain, causing an eventual drainage problem (After all, I’m not only the president of the Dead Hair on the Shower Wall Club, I’m also a client.) But, it’s really skeevy to stare at a stranger’s ginormous hair wad while showering at the gym. When you grab your toiletries to return to your locker, don’t forget to collect all the errant strands of your head fur, and deposit them in the trash.
Don’t: Grunt like a maniac
We get it. You’re strong, and you’re working hard. Sometimes when we exert ourselves, grunts inevitably escape, and that’s OK. But, let’s keep it classy, and avoid showing off. As Lifehacker commenter MOMMA THERE GOES THAT MAN once noted, “Grunts are fine. Quick, controlled exhales are fine. Fucking shouting like you had a surprise prostate exam performed by Hagrid is not.” Couldn’t have said it better myself.
Do: Spot clean your equipment with a sanitary wipe
This one should go without saying, and yet. Even during COVID, there are still people who blithely use equipment and walk away leaving their sweaty, germy imprints (and butt prints) all over it. Bro, there are more wipes than ever before available — use them. (And if you used a mat in a group class, spray and wipe that bad boy down before not while you hang it up. There’s a huge line of people behind you, and we’re kind of in a rush; our bosses don’t even know we’re here.)
Do: Respect the towels
Some gyms are places of plentiful free towels. This is a wonderful perk members pay for — members who surely do not want a bunch of those towels to be stuffed under the bare butt of a child to catch their pee or used to wipe brown dog poo shrapnel from the bottom of a shoe. (I wouldn’t believe these stories happened unless they had come from the mouths of friends. But happen they did.) Drying off our bodies, making sure a bench isn’t slippery, even using them to blot the top of a soaked flip flop? Acceptable towel uses, all. But being employed as a urine catcher or a filthy underside-of-a-shoe-cleaner? These go on people’s faces! Show some respect.
Don’t: Arrive late or “go wherever” in a full class with assigned spots
There are many potential annoyances in group classes; and these are merely two. We all run late sometimes. But there’s a difference between entering a class late and noiselessly making your way to your spot and walking right up to the instructor to ask questions and distract them.
Secondly, there are those who respect assigned spots — and those who “go wherever,” making the person whose spot it actually is have to ask them to move. (This is strong “take whichever seat you want in an aeroplane row” behaviour.) But maybe that person only has one hour a week to improve their physical well-being — and maybe they book well in advance to get that spot, because it’s the most comfortable in terms of music volume, instructor visibility, and ventilation. Whatever the circumstances, let’s not “go wherever.” Assigned spots help the instructor manage the class in a timely manner. Stick to them.
Do: Show up smelling neutral
No one expects people to remain completely odourless while working out. But the least we can all do is arrive sans any strong scent. This means being recently showered, applying deodorant, and refraining from wearing threads that smell strongly of food, perfume, cologne, or that indiscriminate nasty funk that comes from bacteria and sweat build-up over time (and sometimes doesn’t even come out after a vinegar bath — those tees need to be tossed). If there’s anything we don’t need while struggling for air during a HIIT workout, it’s a noseful of someone else’s stench, or Eau de Menthol Garbage.
Don’t: Manspread in the sauna
Don’t let them nifty term manspreading fool you — this goes for folks of all gender identities. If you’re blissfully alone in the locker room sauna, congrats! Do some downward dogs in there, we don’t care. But if there are others present — even if you got there first? Lift it up, Lie Down Lisa. When it’s packed in that tiny inferno is not the time to let body parts stretch out until your feet touch your neighbour. No, it’s time to keep it tight, bring those knees together, and make room for others. And please, it’s 180 degrees. Doing a drive-by fart will only hurt your karma in the end.