Bodybuilder Gary Turner shares some tips for beginners to navigate the gym.

The Do’s and Don’ts for the Gym

All right, ladies and gentlemen, the new year is upon us and as we know, every January since the beginning of humankind carries heavy attendance on gym floors across the world. This is mainly due to “New Year's Resolutioners” getting a jump on their goals. It gets a bit hairy because there is no “crash course” for newcomers to the gym. No one is there to teach them the gym floor etiquette that could stop the disruption that often occurs when new individuals arrive. The purpose of this article is to show noobs (and some folks who have been there a while) what they should and should not be doing while training.


  • Ask questions. The most advanced people in the gym are often the most helpful. If they are worth their salt, they will respect you for wanting to learn and gain a bit of insight. Just wait until they are between sets/exercises or have finished their training altogether.
  • Exert yourself. Just because you’re new doesn’t mean you need to take it easy. By all means, don’t do anything dangerous, but you’re there to get out of your comfort zone. Get into the mix with the exercises a bit. Don’t be afraid.
  • Re-rack your weights. If you can lift it, you can clean it up. I don’t care if no one else is re-racking—you lead by example and show others the way.
  • Wipe down the machines after use. No one wants to lie in your sweat. It’s gross. Period.
  • Observe advanced lifters and watch what they do. See how they’re using the machine and mimic them if they’re displaying a sound execution. Don’t make up any kind of weird movements to try to be inventive. Gym training is all about mastering the basics.
  • Dress quickly in the locker room. If you must shower, the first thing that goes on after the shower is your underwear. No one wants to have a conversation with you while you’re buck naked.


  • Take your shirt off during your lifting session. It lacks self-awareness. It’s distracting to other members and rather insulting. It’s also embarrassing as you’re new and not established or accomplished enough to be this brash.
  • Talk to people during their workouts for an extended amount of time. It’s rude and selfish. People are there to work.
  • Use tripods or make your entire workout some sort of production that you’d find on a Steven Spielberg movie set. It takes over the gym and distracts others, and you have not earned the right to be documenting this hard. If you want to take a quick video to check your form, fine.
  • Ask the advanced guys if they take steroids. That question is absolutely out of bounds.
  • Leave your gym bag/equipment all over the floor. This isn’t your living room.
  • Pose between every set. There is no need for it. It’s narcissistic. A quick pose here and there is fine.
  • Men—don’t try to hit on women at the gym. It’s extremely rude and invasive. It also rarely works. They are there to work (so are you), so be respectful of that.
  • Just sit there between sets and hog the machine. If someone asks to work in, let them.
  • Play on your phone the whole time. Stay off your phone. Phone use is not helping you or the gym atmosphere in terms of bringing out the best in everyone.
  • Superset a million different exercises/machines during peak hours. If you want to train that way, it will be at off-peak times when you have the gym to yourself. You cannot take over the entire floor.

There definitely are many more do’s and don'ts, but these are the major ones that need to be brought to the attention of everyone walking through those doors. The gym is a place to accomplish goals. Every person present is there for a specific reason, and their path to achievement should not interfere with another’s ability to work on theirs. If you follow this list, you should be well on your way.