It can be pretty daunting stepping into a gym for the first time. You’re going to have to do an induction so you know how to use the machines but then you’re left alone. So now what?
Follow my advice to help get you started.
- Get comfortable. For the first couple of days when you go into the gym just head over to the CV machines, get used to be being in the gym and get used to the environment. Look around at everything the place has to offer. Get your bearings and pin point where everything is. The CV area, the resistance machines, the free weights, the functional training. It’s easy to try to run before you can walk and if you know what you’re doing then go for it, but for a lot of people just signing up, they’ll be a bit bewildered by the new environment.
- No one gives a crap what you look like, I promise, no one is looking at what you’re wearing, unless you’re walking in wearing a bright yellow chicken outfit, no one cares. If you go in wearing something you don’t feel quite right in then you aren’t going to get a good workout. Wear something that is comfortable, makes you feel good and doesn’t need adjusting every 5 minutes. Your workout needs your focus 100% of the time. Any less and you’re cheating yourself.
- Once you’re accustomed to your new surroundings head to the resistance machines, each machine has a name and a description and pictures on how to use it. Don’t feel silly, just take a few seconds to look at them and make sure everything is adjusted correctly and you’re comfortable.
- Don’t be a copy cat. You’ve seen someone doing something in the gym, you like the look of it and want to try it? Stop right there. What is the purpose of their exercise? Will it benefit you? Is it actually doing anything? All gyms have staff dotted around, ask one of them about the exercise, ask them what it’s for and how to do it. That’s what the staff are there for.
- Don’t hit it hard on your first day, because it will be a week before you’re pain-free and able to go again. Take it easy and when your muscles are used to being pushed a little more than usual then start increasing the intensity.
- PUT DOWN THE DAMN PHONE! This one is one I see a lot. People spend way too much time on their phone in the gym, distracted by social media, taking selfies or browsing through their music. Set up a play list for your gym time, stick your phone on airplane mode and DO NOT PICK IT UP UNTIL YOU’RE FINISHED. I cannot stress enough how important this is. You need to be working hard, you need to make sure your rest times are right and you need your head to be in the game, no distractions. Head down, phone away, get in your zone and stay there until you’re done.
- Go in prepared. Often I see people walking around looking at the equipment and machines wondering what to do next. This is the biggest time waster in the gym. You should be in and out within an hour, straight from one exercise to another, no hanging about. There are no rewards for spending 2 hours in the gym, it doesn’t make you holier than thou, it makes you inefficient. So go into the gym with a plan of the day’s session.
- Don’t skip the warm up, you need to get the blood flow moving around your body, this could be a brisk walk to the gym or a 5-10 minutes on a cv machine. It doesn’t matter, just make sure the blood is pumping for your workout.
- Don’t stretch before your workout! There are a lot of people who will pull a few stretches before a workout, this is like putting an elastic band in the fridge and expecting it to stretch easily when you take it out. You should be looking at dynamic stretches, these are movements rather than stretches that help to loosen the joints which help to increase range of motion when performing your exercises.
- Last but not least. Get a personal trainer. You don’t have to have a session every week, but get a PT to at least write a programme, help you set your goals and show you the correct form. A good personal trainer is worth their weight in gold. Make sure you have a scout around your gym and look at their training styles, go for the PT who you feel would be best suited to you. Most gyms will have the PT’s profile on the wall to tell you what they specialise in. A lot of people think personal training is expensive but the average cost of a PT session is less than most people spend on fast food in a week.
So there we are. My 10 pointers for newbie gym goers. Hopefully this will help you stick to your new lifestyle and start you on your journey to being badass.