You finally got your butt all the way to the gym, but it’s so crowded you’re worried you won’t be able to follow your carefully laid out plan. Here are some alternatives and tips on how you can still get in an effective workout when the gym is full.

If you came in with the intention of doing your sprints or long haul run on the treadmill, it might look like it’s time to pack up and head home. Treadmills are usually the first to fill up when the gym is busy, but there are other options that you can use to get that heart rate soaring. The rowers, bikes and stair masters are often overlooked, but are just as effective for cardio work. If you’re unfamiliar or uncomfortable on any of the machines, ask the front desk for quick instructions on how to get moving.

Buddy system
The gym is normally the busiest from about 5pm to 8pm Monday to Friday, so if this is your only time to get in your workout, then bringing a buddy might help you be as efficient as possible. Working out with someone who’s doing the same exercises as you are means you can team up on a circuit or alternate sets.

Park it
There are a number of areas in the gym where you can get a full body workout without having to bounce around the gym. The cable machines and TRX bands are versatile and can get you a full body workout without having to leave the station. If you can claim a plot of land either with a bench or a spot that’s out of the way, then you can bang out a lot of bodyweight, kettlebell or dumbbell strength-training moves. These are especially effective if you’re doing compound moves like deadlifts, squats or lunges.

Back-up plan
An effective workout is one that’s planned, but when the gym is full that plan can go out the window. That’s why it’s important to come with a back-up plan so you can still get in a workout (and not waste that pre-workout buzz).

Class time
If it’s too busy for you to carry out your well-thought out workout and you just don’t know what to do, get yourself to a class. There’s usually a plethora to choose from that can get your heart pumping;plus they’re a lot of fun and you might just make some new friends.

Personal or Team Training
Personal trainers usually have access to areas and equipment that is exclusive to them. They also have a repertoire of exercises they can swap in and out if the gym is packed. Working with a personal trainer will also help ensure your time and workout are efficient and effective.