How To Be A Good Gym Citizen

Let’s start by stating the obvious.

Gyms are fundamentally pretty weird.

After all, gyms are public spaces where people, mostly strangers, gather in close proximity to physically exert themselves while sweating and straining. Sprinkle in varying levels of social awareness, and you’ve got a recipe for some fascinating displays of humanity.

While you can’t control the actions of others and gyms will always attract their share of… ahem…  eccentric behavior, there are things you can do to be a good gym citizen. Below is a handy dandy list of things to consider.

Let Others Work In And Share Your Equipment

In gym culture, there’s a concept called “working in.” Simply put, when you’re resting in between sets, someone may ask you if they can “work in” and use your weights or equipment while you’re resting.

The appropriate answer here is almost always yes. Particularly if you’re just using the bench to sit while you check your phone in between sets, arguably another no-no in and of itself.

If you have a program that requires you to monopolize some weights or a piece of equipment for an extended time without allowing anyone else the chance to use them, it’s probably time to build a home gym.

Be Mindful of Hygiene

Listen, we get it. The whole point of the gym is to experience some physical effort. And that means you may not smell like roses.

However, be sure to use appropriate amounts of deodorant, wear clean clothes, and avoid going heavy on smelly perfumes, colognes, or lotions.

And if you’re a heavy sweater, be sure to wipe off your bench and any other equipment that’s covered in your sweatjuice!

(… I’m sorry I used the term “sweatjuice” 🙁 )

Put Your Weights Away

If you find yourself using lots and lots of weights, well, that’s awesome! Congrats. You are very strong. That’s neat!

Happily, you’ve earned another privilege. You get to burn more calories by re-racking all your weights in an orderly manner.

This is all the more important if you are very strong, as smaller humans may find their workout dampened when their warm-up becomes putting away 600 pounds of weights before they can even begin.

Wear Appropriate Attire

Now I admit this is one is very gym specific. Admittedly, if you work out at Mark Fisher Fitness, you’re going to have more leeway than most.

However, if you don’t work out in one of our Enchanted Ninja Clubhouses of Glory and Dreams, you’ll likely want to wear clothes you can move in and that are not deeply distracting to your fellow gym-goers.

So, it’s likely best to leave your man-thong at home and keep your nipples covered.

Minimize Ostentatious Grunting

We all know that lifting weights isn’t going to feel like butterfly kisses. And some vocal grunting here and there at the end of a set is something any dedicated gym-goer will understand.

But if you’re finding you make deafening cries for help on every single rep of every set, you have crossed the bounds of good taste.

Let Your Fellow Gym-Goers Lift In Peace And Resist the Temptation to Help or “Mansplain”

Many a well-intentioned gym aficionado feels called to advise their brethren. After all, when you’ve read two books and several issues of Men’s Health, you have learned some things that you may feel an itch to share.

And while this comes from a good place, remember, you never quite know someone’s fitness journey. This is all the more important if you’re a burly fellow hoping to instruct a female gym-goer on the “right way” to do an exercise in a misguided attempt at chivalry.

If people would like your help, let them ask you first, but otherwise let them train in peace.

Be Considerate, Be Self-Aware, Be Kind!

In closing, being a good gym citizen isn’t entirely different from being a good human in any group environment.

Be considerate of the needs of others and be willing to share. Be self-aware of how you’re taking up space, your hygiene, and any other potentially distracting behaviors.

And most of all, be friendly. While not everyone is going to the gym to make friends, there’s no reason to scowl at people in between sets. A warm smile goes a long way to making your gym a friendlier and more welcoming place.

And if you’re someone that does value making friends while working on your fitness goals?

Then you may find you prefer working out in a Clubhouse.

Click here to come in for a visit!


Mark Fisher is the co-owner and Ninja Master of Mark Fisher Fitness, one of the most successful gyms in the history of the fitness industry. Within its first five years, MFF grew from a single personal trainer to a staff of over 35, more than 800 members, and two studios in Manhattan, earning it a spot in on the prestigious Inc. 500 list of fastest growing companies in America. Mark also likes cursing, musical theater, and writing in third person. For more awkward self-talk, see markfisherhumanbeing.com

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