I have worked and been to many, many gyms. Here is a list of general etiquette rules you may not see on a wall or in your membership handbook....but words to live by to not be "That Guy/Girl" while working out.
1. Don't drop your weights on the floor. Just....don't....do....it. If they are too heavy for you to put down when you finish your last rep, you probably shouldn't be using that heavy a weight anyway. If, for some reason, you do need that heavy a weight....ask someone for help. This also goes for machines with weight plates....don't clank them loudly during/after your set. Not only will you keep a sense of anonymity in the gym, you won't break the machines.
2. Get off your phone, you are not that important. OK, if you have an emergency, answer the phone and politely remove yourself from the workout area to take your call. That is totally acceptable. NOT acceptable? Chatting away while working out. It's rude to everyone around you. And honestly? No one wants to hear your conversation. In the gym or elsewhere. Inside voices, please.... "less noise, more poise."
3. Be nice to the gym employees. Guess what? We're people, too. We want to like you and you want to like us, so let's make this happen. (On a side note, please do not hit on us. If you are a member of the opposite sex and like us, ask to talk to us outside of the gym. It's more tactful and professional.)
4. Ask Questions.... That's right....ask! If you aren't sure what a machine does or how you should do an exercise, ask one of the trainers! That is what we are here for. I would rather spend time telling you to NOT curve your back during a 1-arm dumbbell row than watch you lift a weight that is too heavy for you while arching your back. It hurts me to watch it. And guys, it hurts me more when you don't know that I know what I'm doing. If you can't handle a weight with proper form you have to....gasp!...lower the weight! You'll thank me when you try to walk tomorrow.
5. Sharing is Caring. Yep, just like in kindergarten. Share machines, share equipment, ask someone if you can "work in". Trust me, it's reasonable, acceptable and just a nice thing to do. And hey, who knows, maybe you will meet a new workout buddy!
Real life example: You are doing 55 sets of the leg press (OK, I am exaggerating. If you really are doing 55 sets of leg presses, we have another whole issue) and decide to leave your towel on the machine while you walk away, grab some water, check some magazines, check yourself out in the mirror, get more water....you get it. Remove your towel and take it with you. It's considerate!
6. Clean up after yourself. I'm not your Mom. I don't want to be your Mom. So please don't treat me like it. I do not want to pick up your weights, magazines, empty water bottles, towels, nor tissues off the gym floor. If you would like me to pick those things up, feel free to ask me to be your maid and pay me as such. Otherwise, please just follow general etiquette rules.
I hope this is helpful (and maybe a little funny) to those new to the gym. Or to those who have gone for a while....a nice refresher. Just remember, be nice, be clean and have fun!!