If you’ve been a member at a fitness center for very long, you know the basic rules. But do you know the unwritten rules of gym etiquette for using the equipment? Even though they may not be posted on a wall, these rules are the code of the fitness community. To stay safe and be courteous to others, be sure you’re not breaking any of the following guidelines for good gym equipment etiquette.

Weight lifting etiquette

Don’t be a weight hog. Even if you need a full range of weights for your set, don’t grab them all at once. This is considered hogging, especially during peak gym hours when many other people will be using weights, as well. Even if you haven’t noticed anyone else in need of your weight set, they may just be too polite to speak up.

“Put that thing back where it came from…so help me!” Some of the pet peeves of people who use weights at the gym are having to pick up after others who leave their equipment lying around, searching for a piece of equipment that was misplaced, or being forced to take someone else’s heavy weights off a rack before loading their own. Be courteous of the community atmosphere of the gym by replacing each weight and piece of equipment in the same place you found it.

Don’t get in the way of other weight lifters. Hovering too close to someone lifting weights isn’t just an invasion of personal space; it could be dangerous. If the person is forced to drop their weights, you could be in their path.

Don’t work out in front of the weights.  It might be more convenient to stay as close to the weight rack as possible so you can return you weights faster and grab another set, but it’s also rude to others who need to access the same area. What’s more, it could be dangerous if they need to reach around you to grab a weight while you’re lifting.

Cardio machine etiquette

Be time conscious. First, it’s courteous to limit your cardio machine time to 20 or 30 minutes on busy days and peak hours when machines are in high demand (unless, of course, you can see there are plenty of machines still available). If you’re forced to cut your cardio session a little short to make room for others, one suggestion is to get the most out of your time by using high-intensity intervals.

Don’t take your rest breaks on the machine. If you’re doing intervals and have more than about 10 seconds of rest in between circuits, don’t hang out on the machine reading or listening to your iPod.  Pay attention to traffic and step off for a moment to let someone else get on if they need to.

Respect the equipment and report damages. Just as you would take good care of a piece of expensive equipment you purchased yourself, respect the gym equipment you’re paying to have access to. This goes for weight lifting equipment, too.

If you do happen to damage something or notice damage before your workout, stop and report it immediately to your gym management. Broken and worn-out equipment isn’t just inconvenient; it’s unsafe.

Sanitize your equipment (yes, they’re serious).  Sharing equipment at the gym is a great way to have access to a diverse set of equipment and find accountability partners, but it’s also a prime place for sharing sweat and germs. Thankfully, most gym management teams provide towels and sanitary wipes or spray so gym goers can wipe down machines and equipment after each use. It’s a simple courtesy that keeps everyone healthy and safe.

When you’re at the gym, don’t just follow the posted rules; follow these guidelines for good gym equipment etiquette to show your pride in being a part of the greater fitness community.