The gym brings together people with different backgrounds, perspectives and goals. While we don't need to agree on what the best workout routine is (because there is no such thing), or which diet friendly foods taste best (hummus), we should all follow a few basic rules while working out to make everyone's gym experience (or just mine) enjoyable.
Basic Gym Etiquette Rules
1. No Bicep Curls in the Squat Rack. Bicep curls in the squat rack (or as some prefer to see it: squats in the bicep rack) is perhaps the single most annoying thing someone can do to annoy a dedicated gym rat. There aren't too many places you can do squats, especially heavy squats. In fact, there's only one piece of equipment that supports heavy squats: the squat rack. Most gyms don't have too many squat racks in the first place, so when bicep curlers are using all of them, squats have to wait.
Unlike squats, bicep curls are a universal exercise requiring little to no machinery. You can do bicep curls almost anywhere. Next time you have the urge to do bicep curls, stay out of the squat rack!
2. Don't Smell. Here's an easy one: use deodorant and wear clean gym clothes. It's almost too easy, yet many exercisers overlook this simple etiquette rule. While you don't notice your own stench, others do. It's distracting, unhygienic and annoying.
3. Rerack Your Weights. Most gyms bring together lifters with a wide strength range: some are power lifters, while others are still learning to walk. Either way, when someone walks up to a piece of equipment and sees it loaded up with 45 pound plates or even only five pounders, it's annoying. Clean up after yourself. Once you're done lifting, take a few moments to rerack those weights. The extra exercise [most likely] won't kill you.
4. Stop Wasting Other People's Time. I understand how important the latest Tweets or Facebook posts are, especially if they're coming from here or here. Even as awesome as my own social media posts are, they aren't important enough to waste other people's time while you're supposed to be working out. There's nothing wrong with wasting your own time at the gym. If you're between exercises and aren't actively taking up any equipment, go ahead check those Tweets. If you're resting between sets, someone might be waiting on the machine you're "using." Don't prolong the time they have to wait because you can't wait to see what's going on with #trendingtopics.
5. Don't Give Unsolicited Advice. We get it, you're jacked, therefore you must know what you're doing (when in reality, the way you look is horrible evidence of actual knowledge - will probably be a separate blog post one day). Unless someone is about to injure themselves, don't offer your advice unless they are seeking it. And if you are offering [solicited] gym advice, please have some knowledge to backup advice beyond looks. Looking good is great but it doesn't prove you know how to get OTHERS to reach their goals.
Honorable Mentions: clean up your sweaty puddles (no need to make the gym dirtier than it already is), don't talk to people who obviously don't want to be talked to (no eye contact, headphones, never talking to anyone).
Above all, be considerate to others at the gym. The gym brings together all sorts of people; it's almost a certainty that one of your benign behaviors will annoy someone. Annoying people isn't the issue; when your behaviors start to negatively affect other people, you need to change.