Sticking with a workout regimen takes strategy. Diving into the gym without annoying the gym veterans takes some consideration and know-how. Bryan Stednitz, assistant director of Fitness and Wellness for Indiana University's Division of Campus Recreational Sports, and Chris Arvin, program director for Fitness and Wellness at the division, offer both -- tips for how to stay in the weight room and look good doing it.
Pet peeves to avoid:
* In your own little world. Especially when the gym is crowded, be aware of your surroundings. "One of the worst things you can do is take up space or equipment by being on your cell phone or just standing around talking," Arvin says. Chances are good that somebody is waiting to use the equipment you are using. If you are going to the gym to work out, then work out.
* Leaving puddles of sweat. Nobody wants to sit or lay down in a pool of your sweat. Many facilities, such as IU Bloomington's facilities, provide towels and squirt bottles to wipe down the equipment when you're moving on in the workout. Also, put weights back when the workout is complete.
* Excessive noise. "Nobody likes someone who screams during their sets," says Stednitz. If you're really pushing yourself, some grunts on the last couple reps are to be expected. But don't let out a Tarzan-like scream every time you push the weight. And try not to drop the weights. Not only is it obnoxious, you can damage them and yourself.
* Bad form is well, bad form. It happens all the time; someone puts on way too much weight, can't do the exercise correctly, and looks foolish. Not only is this dangerous, it is counter-productive. Using the correct form, getting the full range of motion on your exercise, while using less weight will give you a much better workout.
* Cutting in line for the machines. Many facilities have sign-up sheets for elliptical machines, treadmills and other exercise equipment. Once signed up, don't be late.
Five tips for making the most of your workout:
* Slow but steady wins the race. "Lots of people either hurt themselves or burn themselves out by exercising too much," Stednitz says. "But it is important to be consistent. Work out more than once a week. Make it a priority by putting it on your calendar.
* Find a partner. Partners are great for holding you responsible and making sure you get to the gym, Stednitz says. They make the time pass quicker and can give you a spot if you need one. If you can't find one, consider hiring a personal trainer, especially if you need help learning the correct techniques.
* Make it fun. "Do something you enjoy," advises Stednitz. "If you make it fun, you're more likely to stick with it.
* Be persistent. If you miss a couple of days, don't fret, it happens. "Don't let a couple missed sessions deter you," says Arvin. "All is not lost." It takes a long time to get in shape, and it also take a long time to lose what you've gained.
* Ask questions. Find out what resources are available to you, such as assistance with spots, finding a workout or getting tips from trained staff. Some facilities offer special programs and workout areas for specific needs, such as private spaces where smaller groups can meet - less people and less mirrors.