31/12/2013 11:38 GMT | Updated 02/03/2014 05:59 GMT

Five Really Weird Things I've Seen In the Gym - A Guide for Old Hands and Newcomers

We're approaching the time of year when everyone is haunted by the ghosts of mince pies and stuffing balls past, and turns up at the gym ready for action.

Whatever your reasons are - whether you genuinely want to make a go at it, or you're using the month of self-flagellation (aka January) to atone for all that drinking and feasting - there are some helpful tips I've picked up along the way from my years of going to the gym.

From newbies to old timers who just should know better, here are five weird gym encounters that just should NOT happen.

Resembling a dead body in the steam room

If you are looking to have a quiet, relaxing experience in the gym steam room, forget it. It is a hive for exercise dodgers - usually canoodling couples or big groups of friends - who only visit the gym for steam and sauna, and then afterwards kid themselves that they've done a workout.

The couples will push your PDA tolerance as they kiss each other's sweaty faces and you may want to ask the bunch of friends to shut up because it's a steam room dammit, not 2-for-1 at Wetherspoons on a Friday night.

But what is absolutely unacceptable is wrapping yourself up in a black bin liner and then lying prone on the floor for the simple fact: people will assume you are dead.

The first time I saw this lady, I almost prodded her with my toe until she emitted a groan. I then leaned over and asked her if she was alright. She then said in a really exasperated voice: "I'm FINE".

Completely avoidable nip-slips

It's perfectly understandable that until your gym attendance becomes a regular fixture, you might be unwilling to invest in expensive kit. But there's a fine line between want and necessity - an exercise bra falls in the latter category.

A few weeks ago, I saw a lady jumping around in a circuits class on the main gym floor. After the class, she walked off to get some water.

Was she happy that she'd just done some exercise? Probably. Did she have one boob exposed because it had popped out of her bra? Yes. Did anyone tell her? No.

Phantom poopers

There are several rules when it comes to the gym changing room. The most basic is that you do not spread your stuff over three locker-widths because that would make you an Inconsiderate Asshole.

But then there are others, which indicate that the person has completely confused a public locker room with their bathroom at home.

Some include not using your towel to floss between your buttcheeks, or slapping your boobs with cream for half an hour. But the golden rule of them all is to not use the - often open plan - toilets for your daily poo. One lady does this at 6.30pm almost every day. It isn't great.

Spitting in the pool and just general hygiene your mother told you about

The first time I saw someone spitting in the pool - they took a big gulp of water and tootled it back out like they were a disgusting, unhygienic fountain - I wanted to cry. I'm pretty sure this is a no-no.

Similarly, other hygienic niceties: wipe down the equipment after you've sweated all over it. Do not pick your nose while using the free weights. Assume the long line of people behind you will not appreciate you coughing into the water fountain.

Gym appearances

I know how the gym can make people feel very self-conscious especially for newbies who haven't yet mastered the zen art of blocking everyone out.

However, these were red flags: lady who turned up in a full face of make-up wearing massive hoop earrings that kept getting stuck in her perfectly-coiffed hair.

Channelling superwoman, one lady wore her underwear over her leggings, while another decided that the ideal footwear to go jogging on the treadmill was a beaten pair of flip-flops.

On that note, happy gymming!