ASK THE EXPERT: New to the gym? Learn good etiquette for working out

Not everyone who visits the gym sees it as a second home. Some of us are new, a little unsure and perhaps even intimidated by the environment

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Abu Dhabi World is bringing you expert columns from trainers at Advantage Sports UAE over the next few weeks to help guide you in your fitness goals. This week, we speak to personal trainer and fitness manager Robyn who discusses what appropriate gym etiquette is and how you can settle in with ease without upsetting the regulars. 


I have been a gym-rat for many years and we do have many clients who are new to the fitness industry and want to change their unhealthy habits (and we are super proud of you for taking such a huge step). Here’s a quick look at basic gym dos and don’ts – after all no one wants to anger someone busy with a dumbbell.

1 – Use a gym towel 


We’ve all read the signs in the gym and seen people in the gym bring their own gym towels but some people aren’t really sure what the huge problem is. When working out it is absolutely essential to use your own gym towel (and to use a clean one every time you train).

Make sure to always sit on your clean towel and if you can, sanitise any seats/equipment before using it – a recent study conducted in Boston this year showed that a dumbbell has more bacteria than a public toilet seat (yuk) so it’s always best for your and everyone else’s health to be as clean as possible as everyone shares equipment.

2 – If you aren’t sure… Ask!


If you see someone using a machine and they finish their set – they usually take about a 45 to 90 second rest before they start on their next set. If you want to quickly jump in and use the respective machine while the person rests, the best thing would be to ask if you can do so, as:

  • You aren’t sure how long the person might be resting for
  • You aren’t sure if the person will be using the same machine for another exercise once they have finished their current workout
  • It’s the polite thing to do

If the person says no, respect that and wait for them to complete all their sets/other exercises before taking your turn. Sharing a gym means sharing equipment, a degree of patience is essential.

3 – No one likes sweaty equipment 


If you perspire a lot when you exercise, please be so kind as to sanitise all equipment you’ve perspired on. No one wants to sit in someone else’s sweat or hold where someone else’s sweaty hands were (and you don’t know how much germs are lingering around). There’s no need to be embarrassed, everybody does it, but be responsible and leave the equipment as you found it so the next person can enjoy their workout too.

4 – Be fair and learn to share 


The gym can get really busy so it’s important to not be a machine hogger.  We all would like to do our workout, in our own order but a degree of compromise is needed so you don’t have people wait ages for you to complete your circuit. Be courteous to other gym goers – everyone has to be somewhere after gym and most people will appreciate machine sharing if you are busy with a circuit.

5 – It’s not a call centre 

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Many gyms have notices asking you to put your phone on silent when entering the gym. Most people spend their time in the gym either unwinding or focussing on their workout and there is nothing worse than having a person’s constant blabbering on the phone distracting you.

Should you get a phone call while in the gym it’s best to either ask the person if you can call them back after your workout or take the call outside; other gym goers don’t want to be part of your conversation.

6 – Let me take a selfie 


The dreaded gym selfie. It happens, it does, quite often and far more frequently than it should. It’s one thing to be proud of your figure but you don’t have to take a million selfies at the gym. The majority of gym goers are there to work out but there are a few – you know who you are – that are more focussed on their Snapchat than their workout routine. Remember, you are allowed to go to the gym without being obligated to tell everyone about it.

7 – Return all equipment when complete


When you have finished using a certain piece of equipment, the nice thing to do is to put it back where you found it. This will assist other gym users in finding the necessary equipment and will not waste their time. Leaving the gym as you found it is the least you can do.

8 – Dress modestly


If you feel really confident about your body, we are happy for you, but dress for the occasion. Respect other gym goers’ cultures and beliefs and dress appropriately when going to a gym, especially a mixed gym as you don’t want to get the wrong type of attention (yes ladies, this one is for you). Be respectful at all times and think before you step out of the door; if you wouldn’t walk about outside the gym in your outfit don’t wear it inside the gym.

9 – Don’t be rude! 


You may have been to a gym where there have been either nasty glares or a little bit of nasty comments – be nice, everyone is fighting their own battle and negative comments/looks could only hurt the person more. It costs nothing to be nice. At the end of the day, we are all only human and we all deserve respect and kindness.


For more information on fitness in the capital, keep an eye on where we will bring you regular columns from Advantage Sports UAE. If you have any questions for the experts you can get in touch with them at


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