21 Things No Self-Respecting Person Should Do at the Gym

Jason Hoffman/Thrillist

Some negative aspects of hitting the gym are hard to change -- pack that many sweaty adults into a confined space, and there are going to be some unfortunate odors.

But that doesn't mean we can't strive to be better -- and it starts with avoiding these things no self-respecting adult would ever consider doing during, before, or after a workout.

Jason Hoffman/Thrillist

Snapping #belfies on the weight room floor

I’m sorry, I don’t care if you have the ass and Instagram following of Jen Selter, you look ridiculous snapping pics of your own rear view in the weight room mirrors. If you absolutely must take these back-facing photos, do it at home, or, well... actually they’re pretty ridiculous wherever you take them. No one actually stands, stretches, or fluffs pillows like this -- belfie poses are absurd.

Grunting, howling, or roaring like an animal

There’s nothing wrong with emitting a few inadvertent grunts on the last couple reps of your bench press because, you know, you’re exerting yourself. But to the (mostly guys) who grunt, howl, and roar before, during, and after throwing around a few questionably heavy dumbbells: you’re making a spectacle of yourselves in all the wrong ways.

Take your steroid cycle down a notch or two and rein in your testosterone -- you’re not impressing anyone.


As in, “Hey girl, you really should be taking your ass to the grass on that squat. I went to CrossFit once.”

Just because you have testicles and testosterone doesn’t give you a corner on the market on fitness knowledge. And when you use your “knowledge” to get close to a woman, especially with that condescending tone? That’s skeevy.

Developing future douchebags

To paraphrase my sister, who said it best: show me a pre-teen boy dressed head to toe in matching dry-wick workout gear and being "coached" through heavy lifting by his dad, and I’ll show you America’s future douchebag.

Dads, teaching your sons to properly lift weights is a valuable skill. Dressing them up like weight-lifting bobbleheads and stacking more weight on the bar than their growing bodies can handle in a misguided effort to help them “put on mass” is just a bad idea. Talk to a trainer about age-appropriate lifting methods before you take your Mini Me through your go-to gains program.

Swinging weights

It’s Strength Training 101: don’t use your body’s momentum to lift the weight while performing traditional strength-training exercises. If you can’t use good form to complete a set, you have no business trying to lift the amount of weight you want everyone to notice you’re lifting. Yes, we all see your game.

Jason Hoffman/Thrillist

Wearing a mansie

Weightlifting-style spandex onesies have no place in your wardrobe unless you are actually a competitive weightlifter.

Also, wearing a cycling bib on an upright bike? Weird.

Leaving behind hairballs

Ladies, what the eff is up with the balls of hair left on shower walls or tangled in the bathroom sink? Do what you want at home, but pick that shit up at the gym and walk the 2ft to the trashcan. It’s disgusting.

Spraying deodorant like you're trying to eradicate a mosquito population

Surely as a grown man you can do better. The names of those scents are almost as offensive as their smells. This also applies to grown women.

Drying anything other than hands with the hand dryer

Hair, genitals, feet -- that’s not what the HAND dryer is there for. Respect the fact that when you dry your nether regions under a shared locker-room hand dryer, everyone else is getting the worst kind of peep show.

Loud talking

Take that phone call off the floor. Talk to your friends in the locker room or the lounge. No one else cares how your boyfriend’s mom disrespected you at last week’s family dinner or how you just switched from whey protein to hemp protein because whey was giving you the farts. Seriously. By all means, talk, just take the volume down by a decibel or 10.

Jason Hoffman/Thrillist

Turning stretching into softcore porn

Go ahead and get your stretch on in whatever weird, bendy poses your body needs, but don’t intentionally turn your cat-cow into an oversexualized softcore porn session as you make eyes at the hunk of muscle across the gym. Just give him your number and save the rest of us from your awkwardness.  

Leaving a trail of destruction behind you

Plates left on squat racks, dumbbells littering the floor, pools of sweat on and around machines -- didn’t your mother teach you better than that? This is not your home, and your inability to pick up after yourself actually interferes with everyone else’s workouts.

Obsessing over intra-workout protein consumption

... during a 30-minute circuit-training routine. Unless you’re engaging in extra-long, intense workouts, shaking up your protein powder after 15 minutes on the machines is completely unnecessary. When you do it loudly while looking around to see who’s paying attention to how much you know about performance nutrition, you just look ridiculous.

Locking a poo behind you

Hey, sometimes shit happens. But if you exercise at a facility with individual unisex bathrooms instead of men’s and women’s locker rooms, do everyone a favor and leave the door open when you finish your business. Shutting the door prevents your stink from dissipating, and it’s the worst kind of surprise for the next person who opens that door.

Actually, do this even if the bathrooms are separate.

Being the "Ab Guy"

There was this guy back in college who always checked himself out in the gym mirrors by “wiping his sweat” with his shirt so he could lift up his tee and look at his own abs. If he thought he was being sneaky, he wasn’t.

Fifteen years later, Ab Guy is still a running joke in my household, and in every gym, there’s at least one Ab Guy or Gal making love to themselves in the mirrors. Get it together, people. You may be beautiful on the outside, but you’re giving me serious doubts about your insides if you’re that obsessed with your own physique.

Jason Hoffman/Thrillist

Staying naked way longer than necessary

Hey, if you forget your towel in your locker and have to walk naked from one side of the locker room to the other before wrapping up, fine. But if you strip down as soon as you walk through those doors, then peacock your way from bench to bench as you chat with friends, clip your toenails (also gross), and practice your physique poses in the mirrors, you need to take a serious look at your personal motives. What, exactly, are you trying to prove, and is the gym locker room really the place to do it? I think not.

Getting busy in the hot tub or pool

The gym’s wet areas are not your private foreplay spots. And just because the bubbles are on in the hot tub doesn’t mean you can get away with hand stuff. Gross. What is wrong with you?

Blasting your own music

Put on some freakin’ headphones! I don’t know what world you live in that you think it’s acceptable to force everyone around you to listen to your playlist, but it’s not OK. And if you have headphones, but blast them so loud that you might as well be carrying around a boombox, ratchet the volume back a few notches. If for no other reason than to avoid making your entire family yell into your "good ear" by the time you turn 50.

Hoarding and abandoning towels

If you’re lucky enough to work out at a facility that provides towel service, then 1) understand there’s an actual human being responsible for washing and folding all those towels, so don’t make their job harder by taking more towels than you actually need, and 2) don’t leave your towels behind you like a bat dropping guano, little sweaty towel turds waiting for someone else (not you!) to actually pick them up and deposit them in the hamper. Who do you think you are that you can leave that job to someone else?

Using the sauna to "warm up"

Aside from the fact that using the sauna for any form of exercise is just a patently bad idea -- heat-related illness is real, folks -- using it so you can get that “sweaty look” before your normal workout is just weird. Know what else will give you that “sweaty look”? Your actual workout. And you’re less likely to suffer dehydration and performance deficits to boot.

Using the showers like they’re your own

No mildly empathetic adult spends 30 minutes in the gym shower, especially when other people are waiting. Not only is it disrespectful to everyone else who pays membership dues, but what the hell are you doing in there? If you can’t lather, rinse, repeat in less than 10 minutes (and I’m being generous here), then you probably shouldn’t be showering at the gym at all.

Oh, and if you shave your pubes in the gym shower, then leave them there? There are simply no words to describe what a horrible, horrible human being you are.

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Laura Williams is an exercise physiologist and fitness writer who wishes she could give seminars on gym etiquette, but knows no one would sign up. Commiserate with her on Twitter: @girlsgonesporty.