I would like to welcome those of you who have joined the gym over the last few weeks. Early winter has been especially brutal in this part of the country and 'tis the time of year where many folks resolve to embrace healthier habits as we move into the second decade of the 21st century. I hope that you stick with this investment in your health and hope to see you all past Valentines Day. Here are a few pointers that newcomers need to follow to make this an enjoyable journey for all parties involved: 1. Remember that a fitness facility is a COMMON USE operation. Machines, free weights, exercise balls, mats, changing/showering areas are communal and open to all members. Please keep this in mind at all times. 2. To the male/female couple that can not stand to be more than 3 feet apart at any given time; you two are so cute but please....do not ask someone, in the middle of their routine, to move from a treadmill so you can be close to your boyfriend as you all warm up. I mean really....you two are my age and sixth grade was a LOOOONG time ago . 3. There is a reason why blue cleaning towels and sanitation spray bottles are located all over the facility. Please feel free to wipe down the equipment after sweating all over it. Yes, there is a cleaning staff...but they are not standing behind you, at each station, waiting to clean up after you. 4. At any given time, there may be one or more people in the open area stretching...using the swiss ball, stretching bands or whatever....and it is a large space. Please do not walk into the area and huff loudly, drop your shoulders and storm off if there is someone in there and you will not be able to do your *whatever* in complete privacy. There is NO expectation of privacy in a common use facility. I understand self-consciousness...but remember we all started at some point and you are there to invest in yourself...not impress anyone else. Plus, the passive-aggressive histrionics are totally unnecessary. 5. The locker room: this topic has been beaten to death and dragged behind the truck in other posts, so im going to keep it to the point. To the guy that blew a snot rocket in the shower on Tuesday...that was fucking gross...you are not at home. You are there to change, take care of basic bodily functions, clean up and leave...it is not the appropriate place to shave your asshole. If you are new to the whole gym scene...just want to break this to you: wherever there is a fitness facility, there will be locker lice (guys who spend 15 minutes working out and 4 hours in the locker room). If you are hyper self-conscious and modest, consider working out when you can clean up at home. Wearing sweat pants into the shower and building a tent of towels around you to change not only looks ridiculous...but actually draws more attention towards you from the locker lice (they want to see what you have to hide). Please feel free to ad to this based on your observations and experience. I wish everyone a happy and healthy 2011.