Time to get in shape! And that often involves joining a gym, which can be pretty intimidating if you’re new to this whole exercise thing. You can wander around the gym floor and leave without making progress, or you can follow these 5 simple steps to survive and succeed during your first day at the gym.
- Determine Your Purpose – Why are you going to the gym? Weight loss? Overall fitness and cardiorespiratory endurance? Once you’re clear on why you’re there, you can develop a plan outlining the exercises and equipment that will help you reach your goals. Identify what you want from your gym time and build from there.
- Take Advantage of The Free Sessions – Most gyms offer a free introductory class or a free session with one of their personal trainers. If you can afford one, hiring a personal trainer for the first two weeks or month is an excellent way to jumpstart your fitness program. Once you learn which exercises and equipment will best help you with your workout, you can then continue “solo” after your initial sessions. The American Council on Exercise (ACE) recommends the use of personal trainers, and a trainer can teach you how to exercise safely and avoid injury.
- Avoid Injury – Be careful and stay focused. Injuries caused by exercise and exercise equipment increased 45 percent between 2007 and 2010 and continue to rise. Treadmills are responsible for the most injuries among types of exercise equipment, followed by the misuse of weights and dumbbells. One way to avoid injury is to understand how to properly use the equipment in the gym. The Ultimate Guide to Gym Equipment offers a visual guide to cardio machines (like treadmills), resistance machines, and free weights and accessories.
- Avoid Overtraining – Ease into your new workout; follow your plan and don’t add additional exercises at this early stage of your training. As a beginner, you should be focused on a full body (head to toe) workout of mainly big compound (multi-joint) movements that use many muscle groups. Men’s Fitness recommends the Big Four, the biggest muscle-building lifts, the barbell squat, deadlift, overhead press, and bench press. Your beginner routine should last about ONE hour and should be performed every OTHER day and not more than three days per week. If you need some serious fat burning and weight loss, do some cardio on those alternating days between your resistance days at the gym. Take at least ONE full day off each week to rest and refuel.
- Learn the Rules – Gym Etiquette is fairly simple, and makes life easier for everyone in the gym such as putting your weight plates and dumbbells back where they belong. Use a towel and wipe down equipment along with sharing machines, weights or drinking fountain. If you are between sets, let someone else have a turn. Also, dress appropriately such as preferably wearing a shirt with sleeves. Ladies, how much cleavage is appropriate for the gym? None. Lastly, socialize in the right place and at the right time. Keep the flirting, socializing, and “locker room” talk away from the exercise areas.
You can survive and even excel on your first day (and subsequent days) at the gym. Identify WHY you’re there, HOW to achieve your fitness goals, and WHO to talk to and ask for help.
Eric Bogey is the content manager at Fit&Me. Fit&Me is dedicated to helping you achieve your health and fitness goals and transform your body by offering the best fitness equipment and knowledge you need. Follow him on Facebook and Pinterest.