For Once, It’s Just Not Me – Getting Annoyed at Poor Gym Etiquette

It seems like every day I find a new thing to annoy me, and I often wonder if it’s just me. So it’s nice when I find out that there are other people who get annoyed at the same thing, and even better when the Wall Street Journal does a story about that annoyance. It makes me feel like I’m part of the mainstream, at least occasionally.

In this case, I’m talking about gym etiquette.

I’ve written about this before (here and here), based on my experiences at my local Planet Fitness. As I point out in those posts, these are not complaints about Planet Fitness, which I love. My complaints are about some of the members and their selfish behavior.

Here are some things that people do at the gym that annoy me:

  • sitting on machines in between sets looking at their phone
  • not putting equipment back in its place after using it
  • talking on their phones. loud enough for other people to hear the conversation from 30 feet away
  • leaving an empty bottle of water next to a machine
  • leaving a towel on one piece of equipment while you go to use another piece of equipment
  • leaving Tootsie Roll Wrappers on the floor
  • lifting more weight than I can (actually, that’s not a complaint, just makes me realize how weak I am)
  • spitting your gum into the urinal

The Wall Street Journal article had a particular focus on gym members use of social media, particularly with respect to posting selfies of themselves while at the gym.

Last year The Edge Fitness Clubs commissioned a Harris Poll online survey that found that 43% of gym-goers reported taking photos or videos while at the gym and that 27% of them reported having taken a selfie. The Northeast gym chain thought it found a selfie solution by creating a dedicated selfie room outfitted with lighting, workout equipment, and grooming products. Social media criticism was swift and mocking—the gym put the idea on hold before it even launched.

Seriously? People take pictures of themselves while working out? I guess as a former swimmer, the thought has never crossed my mind…

Here were some examples of poor etiquette noted in the story:

  • In 2017, former Playboy model Dani Mathers was sentenced to 30 days of community service and three years’ probation in Los Angeles for posting to Snapchat a nude picture she’d taken of an elderly woman in the shower area of her gym, LA Fitness.
  • A Boston-area Planet Fitness made headlines in 2013 for revoking a woman’s membership after repeated instances of loud phone calls.
  • One gym member notes that more than once he has tried to relax in the sauna after a workout only for someone to walk in on their phone. “So everyone has to hear their conversation about how much they don’t like their job or the person they’re dating. It’s almost like, because they aren’t happy with their life, they want to drag everyone else down with them.”
  • “I call them gym campers,” says a marketing executive and former personal trainer in Lexington, Ky. “They sit on machines that they’re not actually using, trolling through their social media, oblivious to the fact that people are waiting to use the machines where they’ve set up camp.”
  • Kyle H. wasn’t sure what to do about the big guy sitting on the leg-press machine at his gym in Poland, Ohio. He wasn’t talking on his phone or texting. “He wasn’t moving at all, just staring ahead at his feet in concentration,” as if about to start a hard set.  Kyle rotated through a few other exercises, waiting his turn. “But every time I glanced back, he was still on the machine,” he says. Finally, Mr. H walked across the room to check. “It turns out he had his phone propped up on his feet and was watching an episode of ‘Lost,’ ”

So as you can see, others find the same things annoying at the gym as I do.

The article closes with some basic rules for gym etiquette:

Smartphone Etiquette for the Gym

  • No FaceTime or Skype in the locker room. Ever.
  • No photos in the locker room, either.
  • Don’t text and lift. Just lift.
  • Don’t camp out on equipment in between sets staring at your phone. Or for any other reason.
  • Make sure no one else is in your gym selfie.
  • Ask permission before posting images of others to social media.
  • Remember the people around you when on the phone.
  • Wait until class is over to ask for a selfie with the instructor.

It all boils down to a simple rule – don’t be a narcissist.


2 thoughts on “For Once, It’s Just Not Me – Getting Annoyed at Poor Gym Etiquette

  1. Funny lately our gym is under new management and what now annoys me is all the wordy, laminated signs that they’ve posted throughout the locker room on”proper etiquette”!

    The signs all state the obvious and it was just a few people who did the infractions (unsupervised children) –meanwhile the signs have been up for months so the rest of us are constantly getting “scolded” having to look at all those ugly dumb long-winded signs explaining “it’s polite etiquette not to leave your belongings in the changing stalls but to place them in the lockers. When you leave your things in the changing stalls, others can not use them”

    omg.. DUH! I just want to rip them all down…they put one in EVERY stall. It’s so over the top weird and unnecessary due to a few thoughtless children. And children are so much easier than the adults you describe…
    watching an episode of Lost! (lost in his phone! …I hope Kyle H. finally said, “Hey buddy! Move it move it or move aside so I can!” 🙂


    1. You’re right – gym etiquette is basically using common sense, so those signs would be annoying.

      As for Kyle H., he ended up just leaving, without a chance to use that machine. That’s what I would have done as well, but I would complain about it the whole way home…


Comments are closed.