We have received many requests to publish etiquette tips for members to follow while at the Rochester Athletic Club. These requests come from members via conversation cards, phone calls, surveys, in-person interactions, etc. Our intention is not to be condemning or critical. However, the RAC is a shared space and we all need to do our part and use our common sense so all members can have positive experiences.

Our approach to this issue was to see what other members, bloggers and publications list for club etiquette on their websites. We found some common themes.

Sources we used:

Our mission is for the RAC to provide the best member experience possible. In reality, we can’t control everyone’s actions - so, gym etiquette is crucial.



General Etiquette

All in all basic Gym Etiquette follows these three simple guidelines:

  1. Be aware of your environment
  2. Be cool
  3. Treat the equipment like you own it

Every gym etiquette rule stems off of these three principles. These “rules” might seem like a buzzkill, but their purpose is to keep you and other members safe, help you feel confident and comfortable, and give everyone the most positive gym visit possible.

Actually read the rules.

This seems like a no-brainer, but some things that are allowed in one gym, may not be allowed in another. If you’re not sure about a rule, please ask a staff member.

Some examples include:

  • Chalk (for your hands on deadlifts, pull-ups, etc.). Some facilities don’t want to clean up the mess from chalk, but others are fine with it.
  • Dropping weights. Some facilities don’t allow weight-dropping for one reason or another, but other clubs may allow it.
  • Barefoot training. Some people take part in “barefoot” training, but some clubs require you to keep your shoes on for safety/legal reasons.

The discrepancies between clubs are endless, but it’s always going to come down to house rules.

If someone else is breaking rules…

It’s fine to step in and give them warning if they are doing something that puts them, or anyone else, in immediate danger. It’s more important to keep fellow members safe than to worry about offending someone.

If you don’t feel comfortable confronting the rule-breaker in this instance, please notify a staff member immediately.

If there is no immediate danger, it's usually best to communicate with staff if you are concerned about the rule being broken. This works better for the fact that staff can negate the chance of a member feeling unappreciative for being corrected by another member. 

Cell Phones

We realize having a cell phone on the fitness floor is useful for timing, tracking your workouts, or filming your technique. We only ask that you refrain from loud, distracting conversations on the floor.

Screen Shot 2022-02-14 at 8.13.47 AM

Secondly, do not occupy a piece of equipment if you’re only going to scroll through your phone.

We've all had to answer that important phone call while working out. If you are in earshot of someone and you need to take a call, get off the machine and go to a non-workout area to 

talk. Step away from a workout bench or free weights so someone else can get a rep in while you’re on the phone.

It’s never okay to take a call or text during a class. Leave your phone on mute or in the locker room if you are in a class.

Lastly, the gym is not a private filming studio. Try to keep the number of other gym-goers caught on your camera to a minimum or not at all.

Respect Space

If there’s an entire row of free treadmills, try not to get on the one right next to the only other person using a treadmill. Don’t take up more space than necessary with your personal items (especially in the free weight area and locker room).

Respect Others

Be aware to avoid strong smells. People are breathing deeply when they are working out and strong perfumes, colognes or body odor can really ruin their experience. Others in the gym may have allergies or sensitivity to certain odors. Also, make sure that work out wear is freshly laundered.

No Spitting

Have some common courtesy. Please do not spit on the floor or in the drinking fountain.

Arrive Early

Being at least five minutes early and prepared for a group class is standard.

Be Kind

Smile, be courteous, and maybe even try saying “hi!”

Stay home if you’re sickScreen Shot 2022-02-14 at 8.13.55 AM

If you're coughing and sneezing in a fitness class or while weightlifting, you’re leaving a trail of germs waiting to infect everybody else. Jessica Matthews, an exercise physiologist with the American Council on Exercise recommends opting “for an at-home workout -- perhaps your favorite fitness DVD or an outdoor workout.”

If you must come to the gym for your workout, be sure to properly sanitize all equipment you use (which should be happening anyways).

If you don’t like the music playing or what’s on TV…

  • Ask others if they mind you request a change
  • Bring your own headphones and portable music player
  • Do not bring your own speaker for others to hear

Water Fountain/Cooler

Allow others behind you to get a drink before you start filling up a water bottle. Do not spit or dispose of chewing gum - use the toilet or trash receptacles.

Pretty simple, right? Once again, this article is not meant to be a slap on the wrist or a condemnation - just a friendly reminder of what we can all do to have a positive experience at the Rochester Athletic Club. Allowing others enough space to do their workout, being courteous, and treating the equipment as your own are the guidelines to keep in mind. If we all work together, the Rochester Athletic Club can continue to be a functional and positive environment for everyone!



Fitness Floor Etiquette

Wipe down equipment.

Cleanliness should be a no-brainer when sharing equipment. However, sometimes people forget or are in a hurry to get to their next exercise, leaving a puddle of sweat and germs behind. Don’t be that person!

Use a towel and sanitation spray to wipe down any perspiration or indication of your use on the equipment to leave it ready for the next member. Most gyms have sanitation wipes or towels and spray throughout the floor. If you’re unsure, ask a staff member.

Put equipment away.

Again, treat the equipment as if it were your own. Do not wait until the end of your workout to put all of the supplies away.

Screen Shot 2022-02-14 at 8.14.04 AMAlso, if you are using a bar to lift, make sure to put the plates away in the right place. It's unfair to the next person if they have to take your poundage off the bar before putting on what they need. It’s also unfair to send another member or staff on a wild goose chase to find a missing plate or dumbbell.

Exercise psychologist, Tom Holland, says it’s part of the workout to re-rack your weights. “It’s usually the person lifting a ton of weight who’s most guilty of this maneuver. In addition, if you leave the weights on, people don’t know whether or not you’re done using the equipment.”

If you see a habitual offender of this rule, let a staff or management member know.

Share equipment.

If you are not willing to let others “work in” on equipment you’re using, avoid doing supersets. Just because you throw a towel on a machine you’re planning on coming back to does not mean you’re the only one allowed to use it. It is possible to get an efficient superset workout in while still being courteous of others. Holland recommends doing a superset including arms and core on one single bench.

Give people space.

Move about the weight room as if you are defensive driving. With free weights like dumbbells and plates, people are able to swing and move the weight every which way. If you see someone with a free weight, give them a wide enough bubble so you avoid getting hit. With practice, you will find it easier to recognize when another weight-lifter might need some extra space.

Don’t hog the mirror.

You may be wearing the latest lululemon tank, but it’s no excuse to be standing in the mirror with no weights in your hands. Additionally, if someone is looking intently into the mirror while performing an exercise, they’re probably watching their form - avoid standing directly in front of them. It’s acceptable to walk in front of a fellow weight-lifter, but give them clearance and be quick about it!

Don’t drop the dumbbells.Screen Shot 2022-02-14 at 8.14.10 AM

There are some weights that are made to be dropped, but dumbbells are not one of them. Not only does it create a noisy distraction, but dumbbells do not have the structure to be dropped and can potentially break. Moreover, a dumbbell could bounce and injure you or another member.

Respect the headphones.

Singles are free to mingle, but gym-goers with headphones in should not be disturbed with nonurgent chit chat.

Take a break from the phone.

Chatting on the phone and doing cardio simultaneously is not only annoying, but potentially dangerous. Using fitness apps like Runkeeper or Fitbit to keep track of your fitness goals is encouraged, but keep cell phone time to a minimum - fellow members will appreciate it.



Locker Room Etiquette

Keep personal grooming, personal.

Self-explanatory, but necessary. Intimate grooming or tasteless personal hygiene rituals should be done at home, not in the locker room. Examples: clipping nails or body hair, washing feet or clothes in the sink, picking at body parts, etc.

Be modest.

You may be used to chit-chatting or stretching in the nude within the locker room walls, but not everybody is comfortable with that. Please adopt some boundaries when others are around like covering up with a towel.

Don’t hog the benches.Screen Shot 2022-02-14 at 8.14.17 AM

Unpacking all the contents of your bag onto an entire bench may seem necessary, but try to leave room for others. Especially during peak gym hours, give other members space to get ready.

In addition to benches, all other amenities meant for all should not be monopolized. Things like mirror space, counter space, hair dryers, etc. are intended for everyone to use.

Clean up after yourself.

Ever hear “leave it cleaner than what you found it?” We just ask you pick up after yourself.

  • Locker room attendants are not your personal maids
  • Put toiletries back in their place so others can use them
  • Wipe up water you might’ve splashed around the sink
  • Throw towels into designated bins once you’re done

Showers should also be left the way you found them.

  • Turn off the water once you’re finished
  • Do not leave empty shampoo/soap bottles or extra towels
  • Dry off before walking through the rest of the locker room to avoid slipping

Leave the phone in your bag.

Even if you are simply texting your mother back, it can make people uneasy because your phone most likely has a camera. Turning it on silent is probably a good idea, too.

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