Etiquette Tips for Your Next Workout Class

Group of sporty people in Easy Seat pose, close up
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Now that you’ve decided to get fit and join an exercise class, it’s time to plan and prepare for what lies ahead. You’ll need proper attire, maybe some equipment, and definitely a good attitude before you go.

One more thing you shouldn’t forget is your manners. Following proper etiquette when you're working out with other people can make the difference between a fun, productive experience and creating an uncomfortable experience for everyone there.

Basic Gym Manners

If you’ve never been a member of an exercise class, you may not know what is or isn’t expected of you. Or even if you have, it’s not a bad idea to read over some basic etiquette tips so you don’t become that person everyone avoids.

Exercise Class Etiquette Tips

The first thing you need to do is learn the class rules that are there for everyone’s safety and comfort. Your instructor or the facility where the classes are held may have some things that are specific to them.

Here are some additional exercise class etiquette tips:

  1. Wear appropriate attire. If you’re not sure what to wear to your exercise class, ask when you sign up. Don’t be that person who lets everything hang out as you’re bending and stretching in a variety of different directions. If you’re not sure about an outfit, try it on at home. Move around in front of a mirror to make sure you won’t embarrass anyone by showing parts they don’t want to see.
  2. Don’t stink up the place. Yes, chances are, you’ll be sweating from all the moves, but make sure you put on enough deodorant to keep the smell bearable. Oh, and leave the perfume at home, or you may send other members of the class into a coughing or sneezing fit.
  3. Show up on time. Most classes begin with warm-ups and stretches, and you don’t want to miss out on that, or you risk being injured. The other thing showing up late will do is disrupt the class, which is obviously rude.
  4. Allow for personal space. Leave adequate space between you and the people around you so you don’t bump into each other with flailing arms and legs.
  5. Don’t be an attention hog. You might be the best salsa dancer in town, but when you join a Zumba class, do the routine that the instructor teaches. Save your best dance moves that are unrelated to the class for the dance floor.
  6. Save the chitchat for later. When you’re in an exercise class, private conversations are disruptive and unfair to the others who are there to get in shape. If you can’t resist the urge to gossip when you’re with your friends, avoid the temptation by splitting up and going to a different part of the class. You can always get together for coffee or brunch after the session is over.
  7. Don’t judge. You may have taken this class before, or you might be someone who catches on easily the first time you attempt a new move. That’s not the norm. Other people may be awkward and struggle with every new exercise the instructor demonstrates. Instead of laughing at them and making them feel bad, give them a smile and thumbs-up to encourage them.
  8. Leave your cell phone in a locker. Don’t be that person who gets calls and texts during an exercise class. It’s rude to the instructor and other members who are there to get fit. If you must have your cell phone on you in case the babysitter calls or for any other reason, put it on vibrate or silent, find a position by the door, and leave the room when someone calls.
  9. Don’t create a bottleneck. If the facility where your class is located has a booked schedule, chances are, there will be another class ahead of yours. Wait for them to leave before you try to enter. Also don’t stand in the doorway chatting with a friend or the instructor.
  10. Stay with the routine. You might have a move that you think is better than the instructor’s, but this is not the time to show off. That said, if you’re injured or can’t do something, it’s generally fine to do a modified version.
  11. Clean up after yourself. Bring a towel, exercise mat, and anything else you need for the class. When it’s over, pick up everything and stash it in a tote. Don’t leave gum wrappers or anything else on the floor for someone else to pick up.
  12. Don’t leave early unless there’s an emergency. Just as important as the warm-up, the cool-down exercises will help prevent injury. And leaving early is just as disruptive as arriving late.

Have Fun

Exercise classes may be difficult, but you should still have fun getting fit. Whether you do it alone or with a friend, keep your attitude positive and focus on your goal.