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"fitter happier more productive comfortable not drinking too much
regular exercise at the gym 3 days a week"

So it's the beginning of January and the good intentions in everybody have been renewed, meaning the strongest resolution to 'get in shape' is shepherding every cookie-puss back to the gym (until March at least) and they are now swarming over every piece of machinery in the gym like thrifty prospectors at an estate sale. Now, not only have you got competition for the Glute Hammer, the Ab Blaster and the Shoulder Yoke but your chances of catching every nonsense illness going around has just skyrocketed as hands that aren't always washed after wiping are now sharing handles and dumbbells with you. You may have to slick yourself down with sanitizer and show up at the gym looking like you just got slimed with ectoplasm to avoid one of those long-dormant and dreaded diseases currently on a comeback tour (Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Measles, Rubella, Polio). There isn't a lot that can be done about that, short of wearing gloves.

So with the assumption that people just won't stay home when they're sick or wash their hands after grumpies, here's a list of more actionable suggestions for the people who've just started to show up which can help make the fitness center experience better for everybody else (and maybe the more paranoid folks will forget you may potentially be Typhoid Mary).

1. Do your utmost to remember that your attention-grabbing screams of intensity don't turn anybody on. Coming in to the gym and lifting a truck engine twice might seem impressive to you but also leads everybody around you to assume that you watch, believe and model your life around professional wrestling. Workouts should be controlled and if you insist on acting like you're the lead singer for The Herniators, you shouldn't be bothered that people take pictures of you during your performance.
2. Please don't be the woman who talks on the phone while using the elliptical machine, unless you're getting your horoscope. Oh, and if you're talking on the phone while you're working out, you're exercising at "doodle" intensity. You should be fit in never.
3. Don't be the guy who looks himself in the mirror and shadowboxes or practices martial arts moves in the middle of circuit training - unless you're the guy with the ponytail. If you've got the ponytail, you have carte blanche to punctuate different parts of your routine with double-knuckle death punches in empty air between sets. Nobody doubts your soulful understanding of eastern philosophy and willingness to defend it.
4. Don't work out in jeans. Really, just don't do it. If men could get yeast infections, improper attire would be a thing of the past.
5. If you have a Deicide t-shirt, wear it every time you go to the gym. As a matter of fact, wear any death metal t-shirt you have every time you go to the gym. Death metal t-shirts should be worn until they shred easily, like wet paper towels.
6. Speaking of towels, that towel you bring to wipe down the machine when you're done with it? Go ahead and launder that every now and again - and don't feel as though you're so clean that you can't use the disinfectant they supply for you. Remember why you don't eat at Denny's? Remember? The last time you were there the waitress wiped down your table with the 'egg rag' and left a nice smear of somebody else's breakfast right in front of you. Yeah, you remember. Guess what? She works out here.
7. The stair-climbing machine that has the rotating belt of stairs is the best machine to work out on. Not necessarily because you get the best workout from it, either. It's just cool to be 4 feet taller than everybody else, lording over them like a patrician on a chariot. Totally cool.
8. It's okay to wear sunglasses in the gym if you are a cross-eyed albino.
9. The only time it's appropriate to break wind in the common area of a gym is when you're crop-dusting the guy who comes in and lifts the truck engine twice. People just assume he's about to squat out his rectum anyway.
10. Go ahead and suggest to your spin class instructor you like so much to abandon techno music in favor of spirituals. You'll find your endurance builds up tremendously.
11. Exercise balls were meant for 'Thunderdome' style bouts. Find a challenger and vanquish him/her. It's also funny when you try to dribble them.
12. Stay away from the guy in the tank top that looks like it has spaghetti straps who is sporting acne on his back, has tribal tattoos, tosses weights around like they're bags of trash and gets as mad as a Siamese fighting fish when he sees his own reflection. That guy has issues. That guy also has breasts.
13. For the most part, it's not appropriate to stare at women in the gym. That's one of the reasons there are mirrors everywhere - sure, biofeedback is a big part of that but an even bigger part of that is catching perverts in the act. There is one time when you are allowed to stare, however, and that's when the sweatpants have writing across the fanny. Sweatpants with something written across the fanny are meant to be read. Even if it's only one word, it is undoubtedly an interesting word and probably requires several readings to fully drink it in, just like haiku. If you're a man and you're wearing sweatpants with something written across the fanny …well …here's to hoping it works out for you.

-William Cadillac Donovan

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