Gym Etiquette 101

Rule #1: Take your calls outside.  With everyone listening to music on their smartphones, it can be tempting to pick up a call—or make a quick one—while you're working out. Everyone else has headphones on, so no big deal, right? Wrong.  Keep the cell phones in your locker. Your fellow gym-goers––and your waistline––will thank you, as your focused on the task at hand.

Rule #2: Don't hog the machines. 

If the gym is busy and you notice people lining up for your treadmill, don't let your jog last more than 30 minutes, says Ivan Ferran, Director of Clinical Exercise at the Pritikin Longevity Center + Spa in Miami. "A 30-minute workout on cardiovascular equipment like a treadmill or an elliptical is generally sufficient for a great workout." Similarly, refrain from reserving equipment or a spot in class for your friends. "A gym is not a restaurant. Don't try to save a space by laying out towels next to you in classes or hanging stuff from a treadmill," he says. "If another member comes up and wants that equipment or space, they're entitled to it."

Rule #3: Use the right weights.

Don't use weights you can't handle safely… and quietly. "Even during the hardest workouts you should be able to place your dumbbells or barbells down after using them," says Fleischer. "The loud noise from weights dropping is often disruptive to other gym-goers and draws unwelcome attention." Can't hold tight? Try a set of lighter weights.

Rule #4: Ask for help. 

If you aren't sure how to use a particular machine or how to do a certain exercise, don't fake it. "It's very easy to hurt yourself or the machine if you don't know what you're doing," says Ferran. Not to mention you'll be holding up the line as you struggle to learn. Always ask for assistance from an exercise supervisor on staff. If you're brand new to working out, most gyms offer a free session with a personal trainer to get you acquainted with the equipment.

Rule #5: Be on time for group classes. 

"Arriving late for class is a big no-no, especially at this time of year when classes tend to be packed," says Danielle Hopkins, a Group Fitness Manager at Equinox in New York City. "Anything more than 5 minutes late is considered impolite, and anything more than 10 minutes late is completely off-limits." Why the strict rules? Many teachers use those first few minutes to explain what the class will entail and make important announcements. According to Trish Berry, general manager at The Sports Club/LA in Washington D.C., "We ask that members don't enter a class in progress because, if they miss the warm-up, they could risk injuring themselves"

Rule #6: If you're going to leave a fitness class early, tell your teacher. 

Most fitness instructors understand that everyone has commitments, and won't mind if you leave class a few minutes early. Just be sure to alert them before class starts and pick a spot near the door so you can make a discreet exit. "It totally kills the vibe for the rest of the class if people start loudly departing early," says Hopkins. But, she warns, "If there's an hour-long class that you can only do 30 minutes of each week, it's probably not the class for you."

Rule #7: Respect other people’s space. 

If you're taking a group fitness class, don't plop yourself directly in front of someone else. Instead, suggests Hopkins, look around and "make sure you have a spot where you can clearly see yourself in the mirror, and do the same for those around you." That way, everyone can check out their form while they work out.

Rule #8: Keep your voice down. 

Generally the steam room and saunas are for relaxation, which means they are a quiet zone. "Since they are usually the size of a large elevator, having a conversation with your BFF is not only disruptive but also awkward for others who are trying to unwind," says Fleischer. Keep noise level in mind while you're in the locker room or on the gym floor, as well. "Working out with friends is great, but understand that people are very alert and their senses are heightened while they're working out, so keep your voices low," says Hopkins. "Not everyone wants to know what you did last weekend."

Rule #9: Use the locker room. 

Even if you don't plan on showering or changing, it's a good idea to stash your belongings in a locker while you work out. Toting your gym bag around the floor can be a safety risk to yourself and to those around you. Extra clothing, however, is fine to bring along with you, says Berry.

Rule #10: Be neat and tidy in the locker room. 

"If you’ve spread out all your belongings to the point where you look like you’re moving in, you’re taking up too much space," says Ferran. Not only is it disrespectful to those around you, but it can also be a safety hazard. "You don’t want to be the cause of someone falling on hard tile and breaking bones just because your gym shoes were in the way."

Most importantly, use the gym and enjoy it! There are so many interesting classes and ways to workout, fitness never loses it's luster!

{Adapted from Woman's Day}