5 ways to avoid being “that girl (or guy)” at the gym

I know. I’m new-ish to the gym scene. My experience level is nowhere near what one might consider high.

In the last few months, our community built and opened a brand new gym. It’s around 1000 square feet and has a serviceable combination of machines and free weights. Membership is included in our HOA fees, and it’s a two minute drive (or five minute jog) to get there.  I’m thrilled to have access to  this brand new and convenient facility  and love taking advantage of equipment I don’t have at home. Cross training has become so much more accessible to me and I’ve felt great about how I’ve stepped things up this month.

With that out of the way, I never expected this to be a post I would need to write. That I would even be qualified to write. But I’ve seen some things in this local, neighborhood gym over the last few weeks, that lead me to believe that people need a refresher course in common sense.

Sharing is NOT caring!

I’m not a germaphobe by any stretch of the imagination, nor am I afraid of little colds or bugs.  I believe in perspiring out toxins and if I’m under the weather, often feel much better after a good sweat session. However, dragging your sick self to the local gym where you proceed to liberally hack all over the equipment in an enclosed space is pretty uncalled for.

If you’re sick but feeling well enough to work out, more power to you, but do it outside in the fresh air or in the privacy of your own home. Skipping a few days until you’re in better health isn’t going to make much difference to you but will make a world of difference to the people who weren’t interested in catching your cough, cold or flu.

Clean the equipment you use!

On the days I have been at the gym with other people, I have noticed a disturbing trend: despite the availability of wipes, NO ONE CLEANS THE EQUIPMENT AFTER USE! I just can’t even understand it.

It’s inevitable that working out will lead to sweating, which leads to some form of bodily fluid getting all over handles, grips, seats, rests and other parts of the machines and equipment. I didn’t think much of everyone’s clean up routine until the day I noticed the wipes were out. I ended up borrowing wipes from a mom at the adjacent pool to wipe down after myself, and decided to keep a small container of Lysol wipes in my gym bag for emergencies. Imagine my surprise when the next time at the gym, a gentleman asked to share dumbbells and refused the wipe that I offered him.


Of course, now I wipe down everything before and after I use it, but it’s a little disheartening to see people just walk out without regard for the condition in which they leave the space.

Be considerate with your selfies.

Obviously, if you don’t post your gains to the gram, they don’t count, but that doesn’t mean everyone in the room wants to be insta-famous. If you’re going to snap selfies, be discreet and make sure the only subject is you.

Hey, if you happen to be lucky and you’re the only one in your community gym, go crazy with the solo photo shoot and Facebook live feeds, but if the gym is packed, restrain yourself.  Your neighbors will appreciate it. (And I hope it goes without saying that photos should never be taken in a locker room or to shame or mock your fellow gym goers).

This is my dance space. This is your dance space.

Obviously, in a community gym, there’s probably not much empty floor space, so we all have to make the best of it. The current layout is pretty reasonable, and the dumbbells, tension straps and swiss and medicine balls can all be moved to other parts of the gym.

If one person is lifting weights on the incline bench, there is absolutely no reason for a second person to come over and set up shop with the tension bands within six inches of said bench. Grab the bands and a mat and find another part of the floor nearby. I promise you, the first person will be done soon and would rather focus on their lifting form than avoiding elbows and sweat in her space.

Be flexible.

So you get to the gym, ready for sprints on the treadmill, only to find all the units are occupied. Bummer.

With limited equipment, getting shut out of your preferred activity is a frustrating risk. However, there’s no reason to cop an attitude. Instead, warm up on the bike, do some stretching or foam rolling, or even get in a light dumbbell routine while you wait. If you are on the clock, hop on the elliptical instead and come back later. It’s a much more productive way of spending your time and some workout is better than no workout.

On the flip side, if you are working out and notice the gym is busy, try not to hoard equipment. It’s unreasonable to expect to reserve the treadmill between squat reps when other people want to use it. Work through one machine or station at a time, even if it means your order of routine is altered. It’s just the considerate thing to do.

And did I mention, wipe down your equipment when you’re finished?

What bad behaviors have you experienced from fellow gym goers?

What are your gym pet peeves?


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15 Responses to 5 ways to avoid being “that girl (or guy)” at the gym

  1. I live in an hoa area and our gym is tiny! One time I was getting ready to run on one of the 3 treadmills we have and decided I’d better sho to the bathroom first cause I’ve had 3 kids…I left my stuff on the treadmill and when I got back a guy had taken the treadmill with my stuff still on it!! Ugh! His son took the other treadmill and played on it the whole time. He got off every 15 seconds to ask his dad something and then got back on it. SO ANNOYING! The third treadmill was not working that day. So I had to do something completely different.

    • runswithpugs says:

      Super rude. I’m not very confrontational, but I would like to think I would have asked him to have his child play elsewhere. Kids under 16 aren’t allowed in our gym, which I like. Although, I will say that there was a resident on the treadmill the other day, and she had her child (older, maybe 11 or 12) sitting in a small space near the front of the mill on the floor, watching videos on a tablet. It was kind of odd, but the child didn’t budge from her spot and wasn’t getting in the way, so I let it go. As a busy mom, I get not being able to get in workouts, and if that’s the best she could do, I’m willing to let it slide.

  2. Kim G says:

    These are great tips. I’ve been a gym goer for about 7 years and I absolutely hate when people come to the gym when they are sick. I find that to be so rude!

  3. Well, I am not a gym-goer, but all of the above violations would drive me nuts. Apparently, common sense (at least in a gum setting) is not so common 😉

    • runswithpugs says:

      Right? I used to not go at all, but I figure it’s there and has weights and items I don’t own, so I might as well take advantage since it’s included in my HOA. I never imagined that grown adults wouldn’t know how to behave in a gym setting.

  4. Not cleaning off equipment is my biggest pet peeve! That and talking on the phone while on the machines

    • runswithpugs says:

      It’s inexcusable. I am literally the only one who does it. I mean, let’s try to be slightly civilized.

      I can’t handle people on their phones in small places at all. Even in my own house, I like going to another room to chat, and I wish Mr PugRunner would take his business calls away from the family. I just don’t love hearing everyone’s conversations.

  5. Darlene says:

    I don’t go to the gym often.

    My only pet peeve is hogging the tm. My gym only has two so…. don’t do a long run on it.

  6. Not wiping down equipment or putting your equipment back are huge pet peeves of mine! I hand out wipes towards the end of the spin classes I teach. It’s the only way I can ensure that everyone uses them. Why anyone thinks it’s okay to sweat all over a bike for an hour and then just leave a puddle there for someone else to clean is just beyond me!

  7. Excellent tips! You think these would be ingrained in common human decency, but alas, some people aren’t aware of their surroundings. The selfie one is especially good!

  8. Jessica says:

    Hi Jenn,
    One should not go to the gym when sick, I just can’t find the reason why they have to.
    Thanks for the tips, Jenn.

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