The second I stepped foot into the gym, I felt out of my comfort zone. After years of playing competitive softball, the diamond had become home but this was a whole new ball game. As I looked around, I became overwhelmed by the sheer number of machines, let alone people. Everyone seemed to know what they were doing and I on the other hand, already felt like throwing in the towel. But giving up wasn’t really an option. I needed this. I was in search of a healthy outlet where I could release and recharge. Somehow, I knew that the gym would be that place.
Whether you’re looking for a mental escape or are wanting to transform your body, the gym can be intimidating for those who are just starting out. My goal in writing this post is that you’ll be able to avoid that awkward newbie stage. Though there will still be lessons that you’ll learn over time from personal experience, hopefully you’ll be able to walk into any gym feeling comfortable and confident knowing that you’ve got the basics down pat.
Go on a tour
Most gyms will offer a tour of the facility when you sign up for your membership. If this is not a common practice of your particular gym, feel free to ask someone at the front desk if they can show you around. Important things to take note of would be the location of the change room, cardio machines and free weights. These will be your staples if you’re starting without any previous gym experience. While taking a look around, you may also want to ask about the fitness classes and personal training packages that are available.
When planning what to bring with you to the gym, you only need the essentials. In my opinion that would be: a gym bag, training shoes, comfortable workout clothes, a water bottle, a lock, earbuds and your phone. Though you may not see earbuds and your phone as essential, I personally enjoy listening to music while I workout, so this may be something to consider. If you’ll be showering at the gym don’t forget to also bring a towel, shower gel and a change of clothes.
When it comes to becoming gym savvy, it’s very much a “slow and steady wins the race” type of thing. If you’re unsure of how to use a particular piece of equipment, ask. Even if you feel silly doing so, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. The gym is not the place to act cool and pretend like you know everything because this can result in serious injury if you’re not careful. In the beginning, it’s best to stick with what you know and then slowly start implementing new exercises and machines into your routine.
Find your sweet spot
Depending on when you go the gym, you’ll notice that there are more or less people. This is something that often affects the overall vibe of the training atmosphere. When you’re first starting out, I recommend that you visit the gym at different times throughout the week so that you can determine what works best for you. Once you’ve found your sweet spot, do your best to consistently go to the gym at that same time every week so that you can start developing the habit.
Practice gym etiquette
Lastly, I’ll leave you with some basic do’s and don’ts. For the most part, you can use common sense but there are a few things that you may not be aware of.
- wipe down machines once you’re done with them
- put weights and other equipment back where you found them
- remove weights from the barbell and/or other equipment once you’ve finished your sets
- share equipment and allow other people to work in between your sets while you’re resting
- ask for someone to spot you when working with heavy weight
- try to talk to someone in the middle of their set or while they’re gearing up for a lift
- hog the squat rack for other accessory work that could be done elsewhere
- block someone’s view of the mirror