12 Gym Rules Every Beginner Should Know

gina-lin-m27OTMegUyA-unsplash (1)

As an Amazon Associate, Modded gets commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

The gym can be an intimidating environment for beginners, especially with all of the spoken and unspoken rules that you have to follow. Instead of learning these rules the hard way, you can learn them the easy way now and save yourself the trouble. Here are X gym rules that every beginner should know to avoid any awkward situations.

1. Claim Your Space

First and foremost, you need to claim your space. Everyone in the gym is entitled to their own personal space, but you need to be assertive. Make it clear which equipment you’re using by using your belongings as markers. Everyone will understand that you have a claim to this small area and respect your boundaries.

At the same time, you also have to respect other people’s personal space. You can’t work out right next to someone or take up an entire row of machines. Just make enough space in your immediate vicinity to safely perform each exercise and show everyone else the same courtesy. This gym rule is the key to maintaining a peaceful and productive environment.

2. Rerack Your Weights

The next essential gym rule is easy to follow — rerack your weights. Whenever you use dumbbells or weight plates, put them back in their assigned places afterward. Following this basic rule keeps the facility organized and improves everyone’s gym experience. Yes, the weights are heavy. Yes, it can be a hassle. But that doesn’t mean you get to make a mess in a public space. Do the right thing and rerack your weights.

Dumbbell rack

Reracking is especially important for weight plates. Plates come in various sizes — 45, 35, 25, 10, 5 and even 2.5 pounds. Each size needs to stick together. Put the 45s with other 45s, the 35s with other 35s, and so on. The heavier plates also go on the racks closer to the floor, while the lighter plates go on the taller racks.

3. Dress Appropriately

Every gym has a dress code with straightforward rules — no open-toed shoes, no clothes with offensive language, no baggy clothes that might get caught in the equipment, etc. There are also some unspoken gym rules about appropriate clothing. Don’t wear anything too revealing — loose stringers for men and high-riding shorts for women are the two most common examples.

You also need to wear the right clothes for practical purposes. There are different types of shoes for different workouts. For example, squatting exercises require an elevated sole, while deadlifts require a flat sole. Make sure your clothes improve your performance, not hinder it. Function always comes before fashion in the gym.

4. Be Flexible With Your Workout

Lastly, you need to be flexible with your workout routine. This gym rule sounds paradoxical, but it’s crucial advice for beginners. You won’t be able to follow your exact routine every single day. Sometimes the machine or bench you want will be occupied. That’s why you need a Plan B, Plan C and Plan D. 

Always have a back-up exercise plan in case your regular routine gets interrupted. For example, there are numerous squat variations you can do if someone is using your favorite squat rack. The important thing is to keep moving. If you have to wait 10 minutes for the equipment to become available, you’ll kill your workout’s momentum. 

5. Don’t Hog Equipment

Nobody likes an equipment hog. Try to keep your time on each machine or bench under 20 minutes. You also shouldn’t use multiple machines at the same time. Supersetting is a valid form of exercise that saves time, but it can also be annoying for other patrons. People won’t appreciate you bouncing from one machine to the next without warning.

You also shouldn’t hoard dumbbells, exercise bands or other smaller pieces of equipment. Use things one at a time so everyone has equal access to the entire gym. If you see anyone hogging equipment for a long time, notify an employee so they can address the situation.

6. Mind the Mirrors

Every gym has a bunch of mirrors so people can watch themselves exercise and observe their progress. That means you need to avoid standing in other people’s line of sight. Try not to stand directly in front of them or behind them. Move a few steps to either side so both of you can look in the mirror without making awkward eye contact.

Woman looking into gym mirror

This gym rule is especially important when people are performing heavy free weight movements such as the squat or deadlift. These exercises require intense concentration, so you don’t want to be a distraction. Let these people complete their set before walking in front of them. They will greatly appreciate your courtesy and show you the same treatment.

7. Wipe Off Your Sweat

If you leave sweat marks on gym equipment, you need to wipe them off for the next person. Nobody wants to sit on a bench or machine that’s covered in someone else’s bodily fluids. Leaving behind sweat marks is a cardinal sin in the gym community that will quickly earn you a negative reputation among other patrons.

8. Keep Your Noise Level Down

Controlling your noise is one of the most important gym rules during the beginner stage. Grunting or slamming weights is understandable in some cases for experienced powerlifters who are moving serious poundage, but not for the average gym goer. You need to keep your noise level down to avoid disturbing other patrons.

9. Let People Work In

Two weight lifters fist bumping each other

Sometimes another gym patron will ask if they can “work in” with you on a certain machine. You should kindly oblige. Letting people work in isn’t just a friendly gesture — it also helps people follow their routines and keeps the gym organized. It’s also an easy way for beginners to make new friends at the gym and build a social network.

10. Don’t Offer Unprompted Advice

Although you can share equipment with other people, you shouldn’t offer them unprompted advice. Nobody wants to get lectured by a stranger, especially when it comes from someone with less experience. The only time you should offer advice is if the person might injure themselves from doing an exercise improperly. 

11. Practice Respectful Phone Etiquette

One of the biggest problems at commercial gyms is people spending too much time on their phones. They take up space while texting and scrolling through social media, preventing other people from using the equipment they want. Never be this person. Practice responsible phone etiquette and only use your device when necessary.

12. Bring Your Own Towel

Having your own towel is a major blessing in a commercial gym. Most gyms provide plenty of towels for patrons, but their cleanliness isn’t a guarantee. Dozens of people have used them before and they probably aren’t in great condition. Bringing a towel from home helps you avoid this problem and lightens the burden on the gym’s staff.

Remember These Gym Rules Wherever You Go

These gym rules are applicable to all types of gyms around the world, whether they’re busy public facilities or small private clubs. Keep them in mind wherever you go. After a few months, all of them will become second nature and you’ll become completely comfortable in any gym environment.

Stay up to date with the latest by subscribing to Modded Minute.