Gym Etiquette 101: Giving Training Advice


However often you are at the gym, you are bound to find someone using incorrect and  at times atrocious form. On a daily basis, I get to witness the same guy rip out his spine from his piss poor form on the deadlift. Sadly, this guy has yet to add even a 10 lb plate to what he was pulling from the floor six months ago…

Crappy lifting technique may not necessarily be a strike in the rules of gym etiquette, but screaming like someone is circumcising you with a dull butter knife for every rep is just plain obnoxious. As painful as it may be, I choose to ignore the temptation of committing a gym etiquette no-no myself: offering unsolicited training advice.

Is it wrong to show fellow gym members proper form, or should we let these people continue on their way?

As a trainer, I used to experience the temptation to correct others all the time. When I was gung-ho on helping people performing an exercise wrong or improperly using a machine, my basic instinct would be to go over and correct them. For the majority of us, this comes from a good place in the heart as we generally want to correct people for the right reasons. But when it really comes down to it, its usually not worth your time since more than often these people aren’t too receptive.

This is almost always the case in men. Now I’m not saying that all men are doing their exercises wrong, but they are more than likely not going to take advice from some 23 year old half hipster/half personal trainer (me) telling them how to lift. No matter your approach, its unlikely you will spark a training revelation and cause them to change up the technique they’ve been sticking to for the last two decades.

Girls on the other hand, will probably just assume you’re hitting on them. You know, since obviously, when a guy approaches a girl in the gym, he wants to sleep with her. Right? No…


After a while, that emotional ware to care about these people will diminish. It’s not that you don’t want to help as you are certainly concerned for them. But after you’ve tried to correct 50 people and all 50 go right back to training like a Turd Ferguson, you’ll quickly realize its not worth your time.

So unless you are the owner of a facility and these people are destroying your equipment or hurting your business by driving away other members, there is really no need to approach them. If you really feel compelled and you think that someone is hurting themselves, you can probably just give them a little warning, but in general, make it a habit to just ignore it and not go out of your way.

If you have any thoughts on this matter, I’d love to hear your feedback!

Published by Nick Knowles

Nick is a certified personal trainer through the National Strength & Conditioning Association who has worked with hundreds of individuals around the world and coached a wide variety of clients ranging from special forces, active duty, first responders, law enforcement, paraplegics, mixed martial artists, powerlifters, endurance athletes, large group classes, rock climbers, high school and collegiate athletes, youth teams, general population (weight loss), and clients with special needs. Education being at the forefront of his approach, he has been a guest speaker at corporate wellness events, college job fairs, and has also taken on a handful of interns who have found successful careers in the fitness industry. He is also a former NCAA division 1 wrestling and competitive powerlifter.

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