The gym is one of life's necessary evils.
For some, the gym can be a sanctuary where you go to better your body and push your fleshy exoskeleton to the limit.
But for others, the gym is a place chock-full of uncertainty and perceived scrutiny.
You're not sure how that machine works or what that stretch is really even stretching.
You see people throwing around gigantic dumbbells and clapping while doing push-ups. Suddenly, your regimen of 20 sit-ups feels fairly pointless.
If you're more of a "gym mouse" than a "gym rat," this list is for you.
If you usually end up watching Food Network while on the treadmill, and you're really just exercising so you can eat a few more slices of pizza once you get home, this list is most definitely for you.
Here are 14 ways to survive the gym:
1. Hype the allure.
The best part about the gym is being able to talk about how you plan on going.
It makes you seem ambitious before you even step foot in the gym.
2. Get familiar.
Come up with some sort of plan before you get to the gym. Watch some YouTube how-tos, Google some good ab workouts or check out one of Richard Simmons' latest masterpieces to get inspired.
You'll spend much less time dawdling, and you won't become overwhelmed by trying to choose one of the hundreds of seemingly identical machines.
3. The less grunting, the better.
When you grunt, people stare.
So unless you want a crowd to gather while you try to complete three measly pull-ups, it's best to leave the grunting to the bodybuilders.
4. It's not a contest.
Don't outdo yourself to seem cool because in the end, nobody really cares.
There will always be somebody stronger, faster or in better shape than you. Take it slow, and don't add too much weight to try to impress some cute girl near you.
The best way to familiarize yourself with gym equipment is to simply watch others using it.
Not sure how on earth that machine is supposed to help your shoulders? Glance over at somebody else's technique.
Then, when the person is done, try to replicate what you've seen. Just don't sit intently with your gaze fixed on somebody for the entirety of his or her shoulder workout.
6. Avoid eye contact.
Gyms usually have more mirrors than a funhouse on the boardwalk. You're bound to make some unwanted eye contact.
Just make sure you aren't repeatedly locking eyes with some guy while he's trying his hardest to bench press a bunch of metal objects.
7. Wear headphones.
Listening to music is a great way to energize yourself and help push your body through the initial exhaustion. It's also the best way to ensure you're left alone while working out.
The last thing most people want to do at the gym is regularly make conversation. It makes your trip to the gym that much longer, which cuts into your date with Netflix.
8. Use the "point and inquire."
Thanks to your headphones, you're able to exercise in your own little world. But sometimes, you need to figure out if that sweaty old guy with the short shorts is finally done using a machine.
Without taking off your headphones or even speaking a word, simply approach the person and inquisitively point to the exercise equipment, as if to say, "Are you done using this?"
Nonverbal communication is a great way to let people know you aren't interested in chitchatting about the optimal way to make your triceps pop.
9. Focus on cardio.
It's much more exciting to show off your bulging biceps or your calves of steel, but don't skip a solid 15 to 20 minutes of cardio when you hit the gym.
It's a great way to get your blood pumping, and it will save you the embarrassment of having to establish a base camp in the middle of walking up four flights of stairs.
10. Take advantage of people watching.
One of the best parts of the gym is the built-in people watching.
Why is he wearing flip flops on the treadmill?
Why does she have a scarf and pearl necklace on?
Why is that guy violently gyrating in-between sets of planks?
These are all questions I've recently asked myself while exercising, and I'm still not sure of the answers.
People are extremely strange creatures, and they tend to do some very odd things while at the gym.
Just make sure you aren't caught staring so many times the gym terminates your membership.
11. Avoid supplements for now.
Everybody and their mother can be found be sucking down some frothy pink concoction filled with the latest wave of proteins and supplements at the gym.
If you have an upcoming bodybuilding competition or are aggressively trying to pack on muscle, then by all means, drink up.
But most of us don't have an Instagram account where we document our #gains.
Something like peanut butter or a small snack that's high in protein should provide enough of an energy boost to get you through your workout.
12. Don't drop the weights.
One of the trademarks of a meathead is his propensity to carelessly drop his weights after pushing out that final rep.
It shakes the floor like an earthquake, and it's a great way to get everybody to notice you (in a bad way). If you can't carefully place the weight back down after your last rep, try a lighter weight.
13. Keep score.
Exercise is about trying to get your body in better shape and gaining a more positive self-image.
So, when you run for 20 minutes, keep tabs on how far you've gone. Then, the next time, try to run farther in those same 20 minutes.
Arms feeling stronger? Try and bump up the weight increments, so you aren't just allowing your body to plateau.
14. Make a playlist.
Music invigorates your body in a way only drugs and alcohol seem to.
Find some songs that make you want to dance, sing along or mosh uncontrollably while breaking stuff. Bump those jams, and see how far you can push yourself.