So you decided to go to the gym for the first time, but you’re a bit stressed because you’re a beginner and you know nothing about this wonderful world? Don’t worry, I’ll tell you everything you need to know to avoid being hated from day 1.

1. The equipment

Be prepared for the gym

Here is what you’ll need:

  • A sports outfit: seems obvious, right? Yet some people are working out with their jeans.
  • Clean sports shoes.
  • A towel: to wipe your sweat or cover the machines. Most of the gyms give or rent towels, but if in doubt, bring yours.
  • A water bottle: some gyms have water fountains, some don’t. Bring a bottle for your first time.

And here is what’s optional:

  • Gym gloves: your hands are soft and delicate, and for them to stay this way even after grabbing big metal bars, you can buy leather-reinforced gloves specially made for fitness.
  • Toiletries/Shower items: if, like me, you prefer to be clean when you get out of the gym. Do not forget your flip flops as the floor may be dirty (or as people may urinate in the shower, ew).
  • A timer: watch or mobile phone, to follow your plan to the letter.

2. Use a towel on benches and machines

Bring a towel to the gym

You’re sweating and this is good, after all, this is why we’re here. But to avoid flooding the machine, consider putting a towel on it. Also, wipe off the last drops of sweat before leaving. Some gyms even have cleaning products!

3. Leave space for others

Leave people space

Don’t get too close to people using free weights (bars and dumbbells) so that they don’t get disturbed and you stay safe. Also, try to avoid standing in circulation areas like hallways and dumbbell/weight racks.

4. Share a machine

Share a machine

If the machine you want to use is not free, you can ask to “alternate” with the person on it. It’s common practice and if there are not many weight or grip changes to do, there’s no reason to refuse! However, if 2 or 3 people are already taking turns on the machine, you’ll be too many: come back later or find an alternative exercise.

5. Put your equipment away

Put your equipment away

If you take weights, dumbbells, bars, mats … put them away when you’re done!

6. Do not stand between someone and his reflection in the mirror


You could think that I’m making a joke about the narcissism of bodybuilders, but not at all: seeing yourself in a mirror makes it easier to do the movements.

7. Do not drop the weights (think about our ears)

Heavy weights

Do you see the stacks of weights on machines and pulley stations? Well, some people drop the weights at the end of their sets, which makes a huge “boom”. Keep a smooth motion and gently put them back on the stack. Same rule for dumbbells (that could fall on your feet). An exception can be made for certain movements like the deadlift.

8. Do not sit on a machine for 30 minutes without using it


Whether you have a phone call to give or Tinder profiles to swipe, always prefer a place where you won’t prevent others from working out. Same comment for people who use a dumbbell as a chair (yes, it’s possible).

9. Don’t be too loud

Gym scream

Like for tennis, it can help to scream a bit during the effort, and this is okay. Just make sure you’re not too ridiculous or too loud.

10. Receive advice politely


You are a beginner, you’ll probably make mistakes (less if you read our exercise instructions) and well-intentioned people will come to give you advice. It can be true, false, “bro science”, true in general but false knowing your objectives, injuries … In short, thank politely the person and check the advice for the next time (or ask a coach in your gym).


At the end of the day, all these tips can be summarized as being relaxed, respecting the equipment and others. Don’t worry, people in the gym are generally nice and happy to help, whatever your level. We’re all here to make some progress!

I hope that this article has helped you to apprehend your first session in the gym. And if you’re still missing a plan, we have everything you need here.