Knowing the rules of your fitness center is important, but there are also unspoken rules of conduct while you’re at the gym. The way you interact with others – not just the equipment — can make a huge impact on your chances of building good relationships with others in your gym and fitness community.

Howe well do you practice these three key areas of personal gym etiquette?

Personal etiquette

Wear the right clothing. It’s important to be comfortable while you’re working out, but not at the expense of others’ comfort level. Make sure what you’re wearing will move with you and isn’t in poor taste (at the very least, you don’t want to be the distraction that causes someone else to get injured!).

Don’t wear too much cologne or perfume – wear deodorant. Some people try to compensate for body odor by wearing strong perfume or cologne. You might think your preference in cologne is impeccable, but not everyone will agree with you. If you’re conscientious about body odor, just use plenty of deodorant.

If you’re sick, stay home. It’s okay — we know you’re committed enough to drag yourself to the gym despite your cold. It’s still safe to work out if you have the sniffles (just be sure to wipe down your equipment), but hitting the gym when you’re seriously sick creates a health risk for others. Workout at home – or, better yet – rest up for a better workout once you’ve recovered.

Common courtesies

Keep your tunes to yourself. Many people enjoy listening to music at the gym, but this isn’t something you should share with others. Strive to respect everyone’s right to their own media (or lack of it).

Hold the phone. Cell phone usage is highly discouraged at most fitness centers. People come to the health club to focus on their health and fitness, not to be an unwilling participant in your phone conversation. Not only will others get a better workout without the distraction; you will, too!

Respect others’ space. Space can mean physical space and privacy. You might be intrigued with someone else’s workout routine, but try not to stare or strike up a conversation if they’re focused. People workout communally at the gym but still need their privacy respected.

Don’t be an oblivious bottle filler at the water fountain.  This one is humorously specific because it really is an issue at a lot of gyms! Feel free to fill up your water bottle at the fountain, of course, but make sure you do it when there’s no one waiting in line behind you who just wants a quick drink.

Guidelines for interaction

Offer to spot for a weightlifter and know how to do it. Sometimes you’ll find yourself alone with someone lifting an obviously heavy set of weights. In the gym world, it’s courteous to ask if they’d like you to spot for them in case the weights get too heavy. If the person declines, respect their space and don’t force it. When you do spot for someone, make sure you’re in the right position and have a clear understanding of how they’ll signal if they need help. Finally, never help unless you’re asked or signaled.

Don’t give unsolicited advice. Perhaps you’ve been around a while, or even have some experience in personal training. Regardless of what you see others doing wrong, don’t give them advice unless they ask for it. If you’re truly concerned for someone’s safety, contact a trainer or staff member discreetly so they can handle the situation in a non-confrontational way.

Say hi to the new guy.  Finally, keep an eye out for newbies who are looking for a friendly face. Thy might look scared or unsure of what to do, so why not offer to show them around or how to use a piece of equipment?