It often feels like the rules of civility only loosely apply today. What is the best way forward for a kinder, gentler society? One way is personal responsibility. Let’s get back to some of the basics we learned in kindergarten about following the rules and minding our manners. Even at the gym.

Mind your manners

Common courtesy is especially important in shared spaces. It helps everyone feel comfortable and, potentially, promotes safety. Think about it – if you don’t return the weights to their appropriate place someone could trip and get hurt. If you don’t wipe down equipment, you could spread germs. Courtesy counts in more ways than one.

Follow gym etiquette

As your kindergarten teacher may have reminded you, rules are made for a reason. Following gym etiquette helps everyone know what they can expect. Structure supports order and an environment free of chaos. 

Create community

When everyone knows and follows the established norms, a feeling of community builds. The feeling is we all know what to do and we are in this together. You’ll save time, too. When you learn what is expected you don’t have to go around asking questions or wondering. The gym experience becomes familiar. That means you can focus on your workout, not on figuring out what you’re supposed to do, or what is going on around you.

Rule followers make for friendlier gyms

Let’s face it – no one wants to hear cell phone chatter or competing playlists. Again, rules are made for a reason. When we remember, for example, that the “use headphones” rule isn’t made to cramp anyone’s style but to help everyone have a good experience, it is easier to do our part. Following gym etiquette is an easy way to show kindness and consideration for everyone sharing the space (and workout struggle) with you.


Understand what is expected before you join the gym. Decide if you can live with the rules before you sign on the dotted line. If you’ve already joined, offer feedback when needed. Speak up with any questions or suggestions about rules at the gym. It may be that current rules are outdated or warrant explanation.

Everyone will have a better experience if everyone follows gym rules. The rules of civility matter there, too.