College Gym Etiquette To Know And Adhere To

By Danielle Wirsansky on January 31, 2018

The gym can be an intimidating place, especially when you are in college. The on-campus gym can seem like a daunting place to work out—you do not know what you are doing and sometimes it feels like everyone is watching and judging while you try to figure it out. There is even a word for it—gymtimidated.

According to Urban Dictionary, gymtimidated is “When someone is intimidated to go to the gym (or use gym equipment) because the muscle heads are constantly using the weight machines/free weights,” and even, “a largely fake concept developed by planet fitness to describe when out of shape soccer moms are afraid to go to the gym because they think everyone is looking at their muffin top and judging them, when in reality no one cares and might actually want to help them with their workout if they want it.”

But the gym does not have to be such an intimidating place! While the gym does have some unwritten rules, once you know them, there will be no reason to be gym-timidated, as they say. Read on to learn some college gym etiquette to know and adhere to so that you can make your college gym a safer space to work out in!


Often when you get to the gym, you do not even know where to get started. Instead of waffling away, not sure how to start or where to go, begin your workout and gym experience by stretching. You can stretch before you get to the gym if you want to, but you can always find a space in the gym to do some basic stretches before you begin your major workout. Doing your stretching at the gym can make the space feel more comfortable and get you used to it. You will have more time to get acclimated to the gym environment and feel less conspicuous there.

But why is stretching an important part of the working out ritual?

Live Strong explains why stretching is so important, saying:

“By definition, stretching is movement of a joint or muscle to full extension by lengthening the tissues. The effects and benefits of stretching are numerous. They include everything from increased range of motion and enhanced workout effects to injury prevention and rehabilitation. Warming up and cooling down periods are essential to maximizing the results of your training, and stretching is a crucial element of that. The advantages of stretching go beyond the external rewards.”

Other benefits of stretching include a wider range of motion, injury prevention, strength and flexibility training, improving technique, and injury prevention. It even helps improve or maintain posture and can increase stamina. Stretching has a whole host of benefits, so do not skip over this step at the gym!

Don’t Lurk

One of the elements that can make a student feel uncomfortable at the gym are the dreaded gym lurkers. They make you feel like they are watching your every move, circling ever closer while waiting for you to finish on your machine so they can swoop in on it. Men’s Fitness describes a “Lurker” as such:

“This personality type is a little unnerving at times. Usually located by an outer wall of the gym, the lurker simply slinks around the gym and stares at people. If you catch him in the act, they’ll nervously look away and try their hardest to fake a text message from their Walkman or iPod. The lurker rarely does any exercises at all, possibly due to the fact that they are shy by nature, and asking another person to show them how to do something is beyond bearable.”

As noted by Men’s Fitness, Lurkers are often people who are not sure what they are doing. It can be very easy to become a lurker by accident when you are not sure what you should be doing or what etiquette to follow. Try and make a plan of action for when you get to the gym, so you have a path to follow and do not wander listlessly between the machines. Have a workout plan envisaged so that you can go and get what you need done, and then get out. Know how to do the moves on the machines so you do not have to surreptitiously watch other people using the machine. And if you are truly not sure what you should do to achieve the workout and results you want or cannot figure out how to use a machine—ask the gym staff! This can also be intimidating, but that is what they are there for. It is their job to advise you on the best way to maximize your workout and your experience while at the gym—it’s all about customer service!

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