Your first time at a gym can be a scary experience. Especially if you have never set foot in one before. Since it’s that time of year when gym memberships are flying off the shelves, I thought I would take the fear out of your first trip by giving you a few helpful tips to make it run a little more smoothly.
Tip #1: What to bring.
Everybody’s different, but I brought the following items to the gym:
- WATER BOTTLE-An essential item for any physical activity.
- Towel-No one wants to sit in your sweat and I’m sure you don’t want to sit in someone else’s sweat so bring a towel with you to dab your forehead or lay down on any machines you may use.
- iPod/Walk-man (if they still make them)/etc. I, personally like using one, because it helps with me feel energised and motivated. I like listening to my own music during a workout, but I make sure my music doesn’t hinder my workout. Many people use arm bands or waist bands to put their devices in, and I know a lot of workout clothing has built in electronic pockets now.
- Clothing – Whether you change into your gym clothes before you head to the gym or put on your attire in the changing rooms, make sure you’re not exercising in any formal or even causal clothing. While many people want to look good while they exercise, your workout clothes should be less about fashion and more about comfort and fit. What you wear can impact the success of your workout. I opted for a sports and shorts – the lighter the clothing, the better. It’s best to wear something that fits well and keeps you cool.
Tip #2: What to do upon your arrival.
If you’re unsure about where to head first I would suggest asking at reception for a staff member to give you a quick guided tour or assistance. If your more of the confident type and want to head get started, have a walk through the gym. On your way to the changing room, you can do a quick scan to see where everything is located: cardio machines, weights, pool, etc.
Once you’ve done what you need to do in the changing room and you’re ready to brave the gym, I recommend heading for the cardio machines. They are such fun, in my opinion (i.e. treadmill, bikes, steppers, etc). This way you can warm up and do a more complete scan of the gym. Spend as much time as you need to on the cardio machines. Once the first exercise is under way you’ve done something and gotten a little more comfortable with the gym environment.
If you are familiar with other gym equipment, go ahead and move onto exercise number two. If you have never used any type of fitness equipment before, I highly and recommend scheduling a session with a personal trainer. It is very easy to hurt yourself on gym equipment if you are not familiar with how to use it.
Tip #3: Be familiar with gym etiquette.
These are some basic gym etiquette rules that can keep you from looking and feeling pretty stupid on your first trip to the gym:
- If you don’t know how to do something, ask! Ask a member of staff how to use a particular piece of equipment that you are not familiar with. If you want a more extensive tutorial on machines, or on working out in general, you can schedule a session with a personal trainer. Most gyms offer inexpensive personal training sessions and even free first time sessions.
- Use a towel! Be sure to wipe off any equipment that you sweat on. If you don’t have a towel, most gyms have paper towel and sanitation stations to wipe off machines when you are done. You might not think your sweat is gross, but more often than not, other gym-goers don’t want to lay down in a pool of your sweat. Ew!
- Re-rack your weights. This is pet peeve for many. Remember how your parents used to tell you to put your toys away when you were done playing with them? They were preparing you for the gym! If the weights are too heavy for you to put back, ask for help or use a lighter weight the next time you work out.
Tip #4 Go with a friend!
What better way to tackle the unknown than with a friend! This way you’ll have someone to try new things with. You can take a class, or schedule a personal training session together, and, if you make it a regular date, you can hold each other accountable.
I hope that my first time gym tips have made you feel a little less apprehensive about conquering the gym. I know it can be scary, but you have to remember,most gyms are going to be filled with other people just like you, other first-time gym goers; and, keep in mind, most people at the gym are so concerned with themselves, they are not the least bit concerned with what you’re doing!