Congrats! You’ve taken the plunge and finally bought a gym membership. Dreading your first day? Unsure where to start?
Here are some tips that will not only make the experience easier but also far more rewarding:
• No one is looking at you….REALLY!!!!
Many newbies fear the “regulars” are watching and judging you. NOT likely. People at the gym are way to self-involved to even notice you. The frighteningly buff dude flexing in the mirror between sets is way too preoccupied with why the guy next to him is out benching him. The cute girl running on the treadmill is way too deep into the Real Housewives (from Hell) she’s tuned in as a cardio distraction. Stop worrying about what other people think, get in there and focus on your workout!
• Dress like you belong
When deciding on how to dress for the gym, my thoughts are keep it simple and functional. If you haven’t bought gym clothes since high school gym class, I suggest getting some new but affordable fitness gear that will fit in in today’s gym environment. Guys, shorts should end at least past the mid thigh. You’ll likely be happiest in vented mesh basketball shorts. Skip the short shorts and PLEASE NEVER wear compression tights without shorts over them. For tops, a good tank is great for mobility, but if you’re self-conscious about your arms, wear a nice cotton t-shirt that isn’t so baggy it hinders your ability to move. Ladies, even if you’re not confident about how your body looks, please don’t overheat in bulky sweat pants. You’ll be far move comfortable, enjoy better support and be able to move more easily in a well fitted pair of workout pants. If you’re really self-conscious, wear a pair of shorts over them. Buy black pants they go with everything and many of the neons and pale colors end up transparent when you break a sweat. Also, make sure you buy a sports bra with the correct amount of support for your body type. This will definitely make working out easier.
* Hey Ladies! For more on the best workout clothes, see blogs linked below:
• Don’t be afraid of the free weights
Way too many gym newbies steer clear of the free weights section as they are intimidated or don’t know what they’re doing. By doing this you are eliminating the single most effective area in the gym, free weights are the best way to get results. DON’T BE SCARED! If you’re unsure of how to do an exercise with free weights or what are the best exercises for your fitness level and goals there are several ways to change. One on one instruction is best, but if you can’t hire a trainer for the long term, figure out your budget and someone for a limited # of sessions to learn how to use free weights. If you cant afford a trainer, watch as many workout videos on free weights that you can from reputable sources. Learn exactly where you should feel each exercise working. Learn the correct techniques, then master them at the gym. Also, don’t worry about how much weight you’re lifting, just work on challenging yourself a little more each time you go. It’s not a competition. Sacrificing correct form to increase weight will not improve your strength or definition in intended area, and may just bench you on the Injured Reserve List.
• Brush up on gym etiquette
These can be as simple as “wiping down equipment and benches after use” to more subtle things such as “not doing curls or other exercises in the squat rack”. The squat rack should only be used for squats, period. Experienced gym users will definitely not be okay with you doing anything else there. Also, you should know how and when to ask another gym user for a spot, always wait till they aren’t doing an exercise or circuit. Politely explain your need and how many reps, offer to return the favor. Find someone close by; never drag a spotter to the other side of the gym. Finally, NEVER hog a piece of equipment, especially one of limited quantity in gym, while you use your phone. If you absolutely have to make a call or text your BFF, do it between exercises when no one is waiting on the only set of 65lbs dumbbells in the gym on which you’re sitting.
So, use these tips and get your butt into the gym. Stop making excuses and move towards a healthier you by being a regular. You may even make a whole new group of friends!