The Absolute Worst Things To Do At The Gym

From gawking at women to leaving dumbbells around, to taking a call or selfies, our readers tell us what gym behaviours annoy them the most. Here’s a friendly guide of 17 things you should never do at the gym.

15 Nov 2022

There’s a lot of unspoken etiquette in life. Don’t fart in public, don’t gossip about your co-workers to your boss and most importantly, be considerate to your fellow gym-goer. Care about the small things. Your sweat session is important, but see that guy who’s been checking himself out in the mirror for fifteen minutes while flexing? You don’t want to be that person.

What about the girl who’s walking next to you on the treadmill, who’s letting the entire gym (and therefore, the world) know that she’s found the hottest trainer to exercise with? Being unaware of the social etiquette you’re expected to follow at the gym ruins the atmosphere for you and others and there's no way you want to be guilty of that, especially if you are a newbie at the gym! Avoid these behaviours, steer clear of committing any gym faux pas and still enjoy your workout to the max:


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1. Leaving the machine unwiped after use

The last thing anyone wants to do is bench press in a pool of someone else’s sweat. Failing to wipe off machines after use can irk those who are waiting for their turn. Where possible use a towel as a barrier between you and the machine. Always be mindful to clean machines with a towel once you are done but don’t ever wipe down with your bare hands.


2. Skipping the warm-up and cool-down session

You might feel invincible walking into the gym, but that won’t be the case when you’re walking out if you haven’t warmed up. While it’s tempting to leap right into heavy sets, skipping a good warm-up can increase the risk of injury and soreness. It will haunt you later!

Make it a habit to prepare your body for intense exercise to help minimise the risk of injury to muscles, tendons, and ligaments. It’s as important to transition your body to a resting state with a solid cool down.


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3. Working out to impress

Trying to look good while working out only lets down one person in the end—you. Talking to someone while they are focused on their set is another turn off. Don’t make them stop midway to chat with you. If you are interested, find a moment to introduce yourself to the person and build a friendship.

Whether it gets you a date or not, intentional flexing surely makes you look like a self-absorbed person. Such behaviour can be annoying to others who are genuinely trying to stay fit.


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4. Overtraining to achieve results in short time

Some say there’s “no such thing as overtraining,” but that’s not true. Overtraining can hold you back from achieving your fitness goals. Many newbies train with uncontrolled zeal and impatience while neglecting the power of listening to their bodies and trainers. Remember: We don’t build muscle while we train, we do so while we rest and recover.


5. Listening to music without earphones

Yes, it still happens! When people can hear rock music through your headphones, or worse your phone, it's time to take it down a notch.To be honest, we all like to listen to our own favourite music while working out!


6. Showing up with a full face of make-up

If you want to look glamorous, the gym is not the right place for it. It's best to go make-up free to sweat it out properly. Heavy layers of make-up can block sweat and cause acne breakouts. You surely don’t want that to happen, do you?


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7. Hoarding all the weights

There is absolutely no excuse for not racking up weights. Kudos, if you can lift heavy weights, but by leaving them on the floor you’re risking injury to others . It's one of the gym etiquettes to re-rack them up properly for the convenience of the next users.


8. Hovering around someone who isn’t finished with their set 

You want to get on a machine, fine! But do you have to hover around or—even worse—stand directly behind the person? In such situations, find something else to do until they're done.


9. Staring at other gym-goers

This is a huge no-no. Gawking at people anywhere and anytime is offensive behaviour. By staring at the person next to you, especially women you are violating the basic fitness code of conduct at the gym. Nobody likes being stared at, even if it is admiration. If you feel like you’re being stared at, look at them, smile and help them realise they are staring at you.


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10. Grunting while lifting weights

This is genuinely one of the worst mistakes one makes at the gym. You shouldn’t really grunt, drop weights loudly, or yell while lifting weights. Nobody likes to be scared for their life while training! It’s better to tone the volume down while lifting heavy weights, you don’t want to make other’s practice difficult.


11. No selfies, please!

Every gym has that one selfie-obsessed person who can’t help themselves. Having the ideal ‘gym’ body is amazing, but let’s agree to the fact that the gym is a place for working out and not for photoshoots. Please save the selfies for your bedroom mirror. Also, be mindful of other people in your frame, especially when you are shooting videos/reels at the gym.


12. Giving unsolicited advice

It is not okay to trespass on somebody's workout area (read: space), particularly when they aren't asking for your views. If you see someone doing something wrong, it's better to pull aside a trainer to give them the heads up.


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13. Talking non-stop

To be honest, no one comes to the gym just to listen to someone’s non-stop chatter. While you're making plans too loudly on the call, it throws off somebody else's attempt at productivity. Apart from this, stop wasting time on a machine or with weights while chatting with your gym-pal, finish up your set so others can get to it. Your conversation can wait till you've completed the run or the set.


14. Public display of affection

You guys are newly married or deeply in love with each other, we get it! Not every onlooker is comfortable with your PDA, especially at the gym. This is a common annoyance among gym-goers: watching the strange mix of mirror-hogging flexing and PDA.


15. Stalking gym-crush

A gym is a good place to meet someone who shares similar interests.. It is completely alright to have a gym crush, but staring at them or creepily following them around or lining up your sets right next to them is a serious red flag.


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16. Wearing strong perfume

A gentle whiff of fragrance can be soothing, but wearing too much to the point of suffocation is not a good idea. Mix that with sweat, ew! The aim of the gym is to sweat, so, understandably, not everyone will smell nice. But, to cause actual pain to those around you is where we draw the line—use antiperspirant if you have to!


17. Getting too comfortable in the locker room

We all need personal space to change into fresh clothes post-workout. Blatant nudity is extremely uncomfortable for your gym buddies. Clean your mess and avoid using the locker room as your private bathroom. Follow gym-locker room etiquette: avoid clipping toe-nails, keep conversations to a minimum, eyes off other people's bodies, cover-up and basically keep it clean!


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