A lot of people are new to the gym, or haven't picked up on social norms and how things normally work at the gym. So here is a list of a few do's and don'ts I have seen around the gyms I have worked at. Keep in mind you do have to cater to your gym a little bit as most of these apply to commercial and family gyms. If you see a younger (or new) lifter doing something that could hurt them, it is a little more acceptable to tell them to change or give them some advice rather than telling an already in shape 35 year old man.
Talking. Talking to me at the gym is one of the most frustrating things you can do. I am not being mean, but most workouts if done properly are on a timer. My rest is timed, my sets are timed and my muscles are in the state I want them in. If you stop someone to talk you should determine if they are either (a) talkers who won't care (all gyms have these people don't feel like you are bothering them) and (b) non talkers. In either case, try to get in some quick hellos in between sets, or meet up near the end of a workout. This can help the both of you complete the workouts you want without being rude. Tip: Headphones in often means don't talk to me, pulling your headphones out is normally a sign that someone wants to talk!
Don't block mirror space. Many people do not use the mirrors properly, but some people do. The mirrors are there to watch your form and make sure your technique is proper. I use the mirrors a lot and someone blocking the mirrors is frustrating. Sometimes your visual cues are all you have to know how good your technique is. This is one that many people who are new don't pick up on and can frustrate regulars quick.
Don't crowd other people. It can be really frustrating when there is an empty gym and someone comes and lifts right beside you. If there is room, take it. This is unless it makes you carry heavy weights for long periods. Leave people space to workout as long as it doesn't increase your chances of injury.
Spread out in the change room! A lot of people didn't grow up like some of us hockey players, and change rooms can be an awkward place; especially with many people showering after the gym. Remember to make them feel comfortable and give people space, this can help eleviate some stress and is just polite.
Don't float around the gym. This is one that bothered me today. If you have a machine or an exercise you are using, try to stick around it (obviously with the exceptions of things like supersets, spots, and water breaks) and not float around the gym being a social butterfly. Try to remain near your stuff so people know you are using it. One woman today took 7 minutes between one of her sets so she could watch and talk with her boyfriend across the gym. This lead to me starting and stopping an exercise after one warm up set. Remember guys, everyone needs to use the equipment so try not to waste time with it.
Always ask someone if you think they are done! This can avoid any confrontations and interruptions and will make sure you aren't stealing someones equipment. If they have a set or two left, don't hover, simply put down something like your water bottle as a claim of it next and take some time to walk to the fountain. Hovering over someone can rush them and make them feel uncomfortable.
Don't take someone's weights When in doubt, ask!
Don't stare. Enough said
Put your weights away: This just makes it easier for everyone, just put your stuff away.
Don't show off! Lift to lift. Don't lift to impress the young lady that just came in, or the captain of the high school football team. Lift to achieve, don't lift to please.
Don't grunt, yell, or drop weights. This all depends on your gym. If you have a dungeon type gym this will not apply, this is in reference to commercial gyms that cater to all age types and skill levels. This is extremely intimidating for new lifters and especially new women. I have had countless clients act nervous around meatheads who make a lot of noise and I find it frustrating because it can halt the progress of someone who really needs the gym.
Don't throw weights. A lot of people drop weights to the floor and make a lot of noise at the end of each set. Remember if you can't lift it properly don't lift it, it can be a huge distraction and dangerous for your spot.
Don't use too many things at once for long periods of time. This can hold up a lot of people, and is seen as hogging.
Do offer spots in the right way. Always ask how the person you are spotting how they like their spots. Questions like the ones below can often help offer the best assistance for those in the gym.
Do you like help from the elbows or wrists?
Do you like me helping keep your lift at a constant speed or would you rather it be stuck before I help you?
Don't bother people mid set. Leave people to finish their exercise before talking!
Do help other people out. You can people watch guys and I do it all the time without causing problems. Keep an eye out for people who may just need your help, this could be passing them weight or throwing a ball for them. If you have time why not help someone have a better workout
Share! That is all I need to say there.
Don't be rude to new people. New people are just trying to make a change. Grant them some wiggle room when it comes to etiquette. Reacting poorly may cause them to abandon the idea of working out and being healthier!
Deodorant and smelly bums. Now this seems like you wouldn't have to say it, but it is super important. I have had people clear out whole sections of the gym because of their odor. We all sweat yes, but bringing some old spice with you in your gym bag and have the decency not to fart in someones workout space will go a long way. Body odor is something I know some people can't help and it can be embarrassing. Help yourself out and just bring some with you incase you are the smelly guy in the gym. Don't worry I have been the guy that forgot deodorant at the gym before, but nothing a trip to the gym bag to put on old spice won't fix.
Don't hog special machines, especially cardio. Remember guys, people need to share and leave everyone a chance to use the machines they want.
Don't be a Tip guy (-->). Remember people find over educating annoying when they don't want to hear it, especially if you don't know your stuff. Remember, educate but don't annoy.
Hope some of these tips help people make a few more friends at the gym! Remember, be friendly, but don't be annoying. Gage your gym and gage your people. If you are at a heavy loud gym, feel free to talk as heavy lifting usually has huge rest, where as if you are at a community gym like Goodlife, most people will find it annoying and distracting. Help workouts but don't hurt them!
Hope that answers the questions I got recently!
A great youtube joke on this stuff courtesy of a friend of mine!