The ring on my left hand has kick-started my workout regimen into high gear. Every day I head to the gym, eager to work up a sweat, burn some Capn’ Crunch calories and tone up all those soon-to-be-revealed-in-wedding-dress problem areas. But the overcrowded, frantic gym space does little to boost my motivation and energy. Here are a few tips to help fend off those gym jerks and get your workout in properly, despite the January crowd!

(photo courtesy of

Rule 1: Be Selfish…

That’s right, a bitchy gym-goer is a satisfied gym-goer. Unless you go for a group exercise class (which I highly recommend: Pilates at the FAC, Tuesday 5pm-6pm and Thursday 7am-8amJ), you’re not there to win friends and influence people. There’s no need to push and shove, but definitely put that little spring in your step and “no prisoners” look on your face when you’re heading to the last open elliptical. Of course wave and say hi to people you recognize, but don’t stop walking in the middle of the floor and scream about the latest text you received or how great it is that class got out early yesterday. You don’t have to be mean and ignorant of those around you, but don’t feel like you need to “pick your battles” and let eeveryone else finish their workout before you can start.

Rule 2:…But Not Inconsiderate

When you’ve crunched a million crunches and you lay back luxuriously onto the cool mat, you’ve earned that 80-second lounge. But when you sprawl out, taking up way too much space on the too-small conditioning mat that everyone has to share, or you sit there with both legs stretched out for a 15-minute conversation about your manicure, you have crossed the gym etiquette line. Please enjoy your workout, rest and restore your energy, and then get off your butt and move. Please and thank you. No one sweating or grunting around you needs to be 6 inches away from your smelly foot while you sit there, calm as can be, not working out just chatting about the upcoming weekend. And please, if you’re going to talk, take out the freaking headphones so not everyone hears your screaming voice. Please and thank you.

Rule 3: Gyms are Germy

Wipe down your equipment. Would you want to grab a weight or the handlebar of an exercise bike where some 300-pound Sumo wrestler or bodybuilder had just sweated off their entire protein shake? Didn’t think so. Just assume that someone similar was there before you, so take the time to wipe off the common surface with a paper towel BEFORE AND AFTER use. It takes what, three seconds? And it keeps the gym a happy, healthy, safe environment for everyone. Everyone has to share, and sharing is caring, but please keep your sweat to yourself. This includes wiping down dumbbells, larger weights, resistance balls and your damp little spot on the mats after you’re finished.

Rule 4: Avoid the Problem

If you love the social interaction that comes with endorphins and activity, maybe the gym floor isn’t the best place for you. Grab some girlfriends who love to gab while sweating, and hit up a group class. To really get your heart rate up, pop in some old-school fitness DVDs and bust a move in the privacy of your own home. That way, you can stop mid-step or mid-sentence to laugh at a hilarious joke or re-arrange your position without hindering and annoying all the strangers around you at the gym. Throw in a quick exercise tape, sprawl out your little yoga mat, and have at it. No rolled eyes or evil glances will be thrown your way.

Please don’t take offense to this no-nonsense matter of exercise. Just remember that everyone at the gym wants to work as hard as you do, if not more so. Be respectful of people that are training for an athletic event, or trying really hard to lose weight. Not everyone sees it as the enjoyable, social atmosphere that you do. Remember to stay in your zone and let others feel the burn on their own. Your abs and your fellow gym rats will thank you.