Nothing is worse than psyching yourself up to sweat it out, only to have a (relatively minor) speed bump derail your entire workout. To make the most of your hard-earned gym time, plan ahead to avoid these workout-ruining problems.

It takes a lot of time and effort to fit regular exercise into a busy lifestyle--for most of us, getting to the gym is a feat in and of itself. The standard midweek workout requires us to clear our schedules, pack gear in advance, and resist those inevitable last-minute excuses. That’s why nothing is worse than psyching yourself up to sweat it out, only to have a (relatively minor) speed bump derail your entire workout. To make the most of your hard-earned gym time, plan ahead to avoid these workout-ruining problems.

Uncomfortable gear
Everyone has those yoga pants that don’t really fit--the ones we vow never to wear again while pulling them up for the umpteenth time in class. But when laundry day rolls around and they’re the only pair left, we end up slipping them on yet again. In addition to being distracting, ill-fitting clothing can be a serious confidence-buster. Kristen James, area fitness manager for Equinox and creator of CYCLEology, stresses the importance of finding things you feel good in. “It will motivate you to work harder–-face it, the gym is filled with mirrors!” she says. One great rule for workout-wear is that you shouldn’t notice it. So whether you have a sports bra so tight it constricts your breathing, or shorts that won’t stop riding up, get rid of them. These items won’t magically become more comfortable, and until you give them the boot, they’ll keep on bringing you down.

Slippery headphones
Most of us consider our iPods to be gym essentials; a well-crafted playlist can make even the most grueling treadmill session fly by. But if you’ve ever spent a 45-minute run readjusting slippery earbuds, then you know how important it is to find the right pair. Avoid the frustration of jamming buds into your ears by investing in a set of quality headphones. Heidi Anderson, a trainer at Sports Club/LA – Boston, is a huge fan of Skullcandy's Chops ($19.99). Since they stay put and are relatively inexpensive, you won’t be too upset if you lose them. If you’re willing to spend a bit more, James recommends Urbanears' Stay-In-Place headphones ($49.90), which actually come with tiny tabs that can be changed for a perfectly custom fit. Brilliant!

Occupied equipment
Savvy exercisers know that taking the time to plan workouts in advance is a great way to maximize efficiency at the gym. So when you come in with a plan, only to find row after row of occupied machines, it can be a major buzzkill. Avoid settling for a less effective workout with a little extra preparation--strategically time your gym session and have a plan B. Generally, fitness floors are at their busiest in the early evening on weeknights and weekend mornings between 9-12. So if you want to beat the crowds, Anderson recommends 10am-12 pm, 1-4 pm, or after 8pm. However, she acknowledges that these times are only realistic for those with “a flexible workout schedule or a sweet job that allows you to workout at all hours of the day.” If you don’t have these luxuries, always have a backup exercise routine on hand. Allison Berry, a fitness manager at Crunch gym in New York, suggests creating your own mini gym. “Find a nice little corner and claim your turf. Bring resistance bands, a kettlebell, a mat, some dumbbells, and a jump rope,” she says. Instead of waiting around for the elliptical, you can jump right into a circuit routine.

Rude behavior at the gym
Unfortunately, encountering rudeness at the gym is a universal experience--we all have our stories of sweatiquette gone wrong. James, a fitness veteran, throws out some particularly crazy examples--there’s the girl who sticks gum in her towel, the one who puts her feet up on the locker room counters, and even people who come to a group class, and then proceed to do their own workout. When it comes to handling this kind of behavior in the right way, it depends upon the situation. “If a member doesn’t say hello in the hallway ignore them, but if someone pushes you in a class or moves your equipment after you’ve set it up let the instructor know and possibly the general manager of the club," says James. Rude people can spread their negative behavior like disease and "managers don’t want that kind of headache,” she says. Just make sure that your gripes are warranted; nobody likes a tattletale.