How to be a Gent at the Gym

How to be a Gent at the Gym

One might believe that the gym, a destination for self-improvement, would be free of douchebags, but here we are.

Despite the abundance of memes, satirical videos, and articles (just like this one) addressing these topics, many gym-goers still manage to display outlandish examples of gym douchebaggery.

There are three main pillars of proper gym etiquette: Your attire, actions, and interactions. Almost everything that you wear, do, or say is aligned to one of these segments. In an attempt to advise our well-meaning readers how they should act while working out, we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of do’s and don’ts sure to keep your gym reputation intact.


The first—and most important—thing to consider when choosing your gym outfit is the type of gym you’re frequenting. The implications of going shirtless at a Crossfit gym with an open garage door in the middle of July are much different than they would be at a typical fitness center. The next variable to consider is the practicality of your outfit. If you’re performing Olympic weightlifting movements and prepping for a competition, a unitard is very appropriate. If your workout includes little movement beyond elbow flexion or extension, then you may get some cross looks in the same outfit. If your outfit helps you perform at a higher capacity, then by all means, feel free to wear what you like. Otherwise, proceed with caution.

There are rare exceptions (as noted above) but the general rules of thumb are as follows:

– If your shirt came with sleeves, keep it that way.

– If you’re at a six out of ten risk level with respect to experiencing a nip slip, you’re in prime douche territory

– If your shirt or pants are a canvas for last night’s dinner, your pre-workout routine should include a washing machine.

– Sweating is encouraged, but please, for the love of all that is good in this world, make sure you wash your sweaty gear between sessions.

– Don’t wear jeans, dress shoes, boat shoes, polos, or sunglasses while training. If you have to ask why, then you’re a douche.


When it comes to working out, everything you do—from training to your time spent in the change room— counts as an action. Unfortunately, these are also the times when people like to throw basic manners out the window. You, however, will not.

– While training, it’s okay to grunt and drop weights when it’s required. If you’re curling five-pound dumbbells and sound like you’re in labour, or feel the need to throw said dumbbells on the floor, it may be worth checking your blood pressure.

– No one likes people who curl in the squat rack. A great guideline to evaluate which equipment is and isn’t appropriate for specific use is referring to said equipment’s name. Again, squat racks are for squatting, not curling. Exceptions to this rule do exist, like using the squat rack for bent over rows, or certain deadlift variations, but are few and far between.

– When you’re done with your dumbbells plates, or barbells, put that thing back where it came from, or so help me. We’re all adults- act accordingly.

– On the subject of cleaning up after yourself like a functioning member of society, wipe down your equipment when you’re done, especially if you’re sweating like a leaky faucet. There are paper dispensers and spray bottles at most facilities, and for good reason; nobody wants ringworms.

– If you decide to shave after your workout, make sure that it’s your face and that body grooming is performed sparingly. Nobody wants to walk into a shower that looks clogged by a stray cat.

– Shadow boxing between sets is about as cool as wearing sunglasses in a club. The same goes for flexing in the mirror.


The most important element of being a gentleman at the gym is how you interact with others while training or in the changeroom. As previously mentioned, it’s not uncommon to see fully grown adults behaving like poor-mannered children while at the gym. Here’s how to avoid such behaviour:

– If someone wants to alternate between sets, or work in, let them. As every mother once said, sharing is caring.

– If someone asks for a spot, don’t leave them hanging; it’s a matter of safety. Plus, the fact that they’ve asked you, is a sign of respect and means that they trust you.

– Catching the odd glance of another guy or gal is totally fine, and is likely to happen at some point. However, staring is rude and creepy. It’s also worth noting that creepiness is amplified if you’re checking someone out through the reflection of a reflection. The same goes for peeping through equipment and under the brim of your hat.

– Contrary to sport locker room talk, change room chatter can be uncomfortable. Any awkwardness becomes amplified if you’re fully nude, and increases if you have your leg up on a bench. Save the conversation for the walk out.

– In sum, the gym is meant for training and reaching your fitness goals. Work hard, respect your surroundings, and remember that the people you interact with at the gym can be future coworkers, friends, or, who knows, maybe love interests, too.

Just don’t be a douche about that, either.

Words by Brody Langley