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No one has the manual for life since, as Douglas Adams once observed, it's attached to the umbilicus at birth, and thus continually discarded by careless medical professionals. If you did, though, it would tell you not be a shitbird at the gym and precisely how not to be a shitbird at the gym. You need to know this because in one manner or another you are a total asshole at the gym, and everyone silently hates you for it. We're the only one who'll tell you these things, and you're welcome, really. It's our pleasure.

Not only are you weak at the gym, but you are annoying as hell, too.

So, before we get to the season and the pseudoephedrine pace of real, living, breathing portion of the year, let us list our proper rules for gym use and happy co-existence with your fellow gym-mates, mostly because we've already written it, it's two weeks before the season, and we're still pissed at Professor O'Dorkley who spent 20 minutes in the squat rack on Tuesday reading the New York Times and doing sets of one rep at a time while promising "I've just got a few more." We hope you choke.

One: Don't stink. Everyone stinks at the gym, but the occasional fragrance frotteur insists on wearing the gym clothes they pulled from the trunk.

These are the gym clothes that, if put in an enclosed glass container with lab rats, would eat the rats in a flash of tentacles, blood, and little rat screams. They've been in the person's trunk for at least two days, enough time to turn innocent sweat and shed skin cells into weapons-grade biological material in even a mild climate.

If you have the option, gym asshole, just work out nude with a towel under you rather than wear these toxic vestments. This way, you avoid sharing the smell of your ass with everyone, though you do so at the cost of showing everyone your actual ass-hole, which is just marginally better than the aromarama you put us through with your moldy stinkarmor. Marginally, we say.

Two: Your coaching tips are appreciated! No one minds a friendly discussion of form in between reps, perhaps punctuated with a playful shoulder chuck or the more contemporary terrorist fist-jab between new friends, or even the Beastmaster/Mongolian elbow shake one really should use at the gym.

Everyone, however, will think you are a complete asshole for being a freelance personal trainer in the gym. My squat form is off? Great. It's my business if I want my intestines to fly out of my balls, thank you very much. When you snap your sternum in two bouncing 325 off your chest on the bench, we'll be sure to point out just how bad your form was there, too.

Three: Don't warm up in the sauna. We don't have a sauna at the gym, mostly due to the conditions inside the sauna being identical to the conditions you face stepping out into the parking lot of the gym, meaning a sauna would really just be a room outside with wood paneling and a fat guy sitting naked in it, and around here we call that a "mobile home." In the interest of not duplicating services, most Atlanta area gyms don't offer saunas.

But for those who do like a nice, relaxing schvitz after a lift often find themselves invaded by fuckwits who, for no discernible scientific reason, believe it's good to stretch in their nasty clothes in the sauna, a practice as based in actual science as the ancient and noble art of augury. No, don't bother leaving. We always slaughter chickens and examine their innards over here on the curl bench. Really, it's fine.

Four: Yes, I have a penis, too! The locker room is a place to change clothes and clean up. Sure, you have to get naked to do this. You don't have to do the whole "divining rod" walk across the locker room naked, however, because the water is in the showers, and we'll just all sneak peeks and compare manhoods the way Xenu intended us to: surreptitiously, and with a hint of shame.

Four-A: Hey, you look like Merlin when you turn upside down! A special note from the ladies' perspective on this issue:

Barstoolio: Also the Super Nudes in the locker room. The ones who blow dry their hair for ten minutes before putting on their clothes. It's gross when they bend over to blow-dry upside down.

Orson: You mean they do this naked?

Barstoolio: YES. It is HORRIFYING. I don't care if I see parts while we're changing, I mean, it's a locker room. Don't do your makeup naked.

Orson: Gee, your birth canal smells great!

Barstoolio: Upside down, you look like Merlin! I'm so glad you showed me!

Poof! Watch me make your dignity disappear!

Five: Don't sing along to your iPod. There's an asshole currently belting out "We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful" by Morrissey in your gym. It's us. We're an asshole, and we apologize for it profusely. It's a loathsome habit only made funny when you're doing an exercise that the song you're mouthing underscores in an ironic way, like performing a sotto voce rendition of "Gay Bar" while doing squats and performing oral sex on another man. We mean, doing squats.

Six: Shrug guy. Yes, you're new haircut guy. We know the central drama of your life is blindly thrashing through the urge to spread your genes as widely as possible by crafting every sad little angle of your life to a narrow, sickly hypertrophied vision of masculinity emphasizing the cheapest, most desperate appeals to the opposite sex: tan flesh, huge upper body muscles, and some disgustingly hayseed conception of "wealth."

Yes. That guy.

The aerosolized sorrow of your pathetic existence is enough to ruin a gym trip, but that we can block out for the most part. What we can't avoid is your douchebag ass floating right over the dumbbell rack doing an exercise solely used to make you look better in a wide-collared silk shirt: the shrug. Let us get to the weights without having to wade through your Muscle-Milk flavored pool of Darwinian anxiety, dude, and go over to the mirror to do your shirt-filling exercises. You know you want to anyway.

Seven: Creepy Short-Shorted Fart Guy. This could just be us, but every gym we've ever been to has an old-ish wintergreen of a man who wears short shorts, farts like a bellows on the treadmill while running, and who insists on doing wide-legged stretches in the middle of the gym for all to see. If this is your father, please smother him in his sleep with a deep, plushy pillow. Thanks.

Eight: Cap'n Grunty. Noise is acceptable, really, it is: where else but in the back of a police cruiser and in your proctologist's office do you have an excuse to really, really let out a solid grunt from real physical duress? Presumably, you should be working out hard, and exerting yourself in a manner Eugene Sandow would endorse while twiddling his mustache.

But heaving and hawing like you're attempting to crap out an entire unblemished diorama of the Battle of Gettysburg while doing every single exercise you do is just gauche and untoward. (The little bayonets are the worst part.) The only acceptable time to make noises like that is when lifting buses off helpless old ladies, or when throwing buses onto helpless old ladies. Any other time is just exhibitionism.

Nine: Whoever has just taken the machine I want to use. Yes, machines are for pussies and will-o-the-wisp ladyboys who might as well put a hamster wheel in their house. We would, if we could, but sadly most homes don't come standard with this despite Double Dare's groundbreaking work in Human Hamster Wheel Design.

Oh, you noticed us looking nastily at you? Because you happened to get on the rowing machine/treadmill/awesome elliptical machine that lies to you by telling you you just burned ELEVENTY BILLION CALORIES without any tangible effort? It's because we hate you for not stopping for coffee on the way, or for finishing up your kickball game or whatever dickhead thing you were doing immediately prior to taking the machine we wanted.

Seriously, go fuck yourself. We'll be over here on the exercise bike. Yes, the bike. The one that doesn't move.

God, you're an asshole.

Ten: Anorexigirl. No, you look great. You do, really. All that work you do on the treadmill you're always on when we walk in, or the class you're just stepping out of when we're leaving, or the frenzied lunges and crunches we see you doing over in the corner? It's a pleasure to be so obviously exposed to someone's personal demons on a weekly basis, really, no, seriously. It's a privilege we have that we didn't even ask for! Free! You're just giving it to us, like the free sample lady at Chik-Fil-A in the mall! You just hand it out one sweaty surreptitious anxious look in the mirror at a time, and charge nothing for the service.

You're like a charity devoted to hurting our hearts with your thinly veiled soulpain, and you apparently have robust funding to provide this for the duration of our gym membership. One nice thing about you, though: you never hog the free weights, since your brittle bones would snap in two beneath even the slightest weight.