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Your Survival Guide: First Day at the Gym

Posted by Mike Gales on

GymWith the arrival of January many of us feel a sense of renewed motivation. Now is the perfect time to ride that excitement and to start getting the body you deserve! If you’re like most people you are probably feeling a little intimated by the gym, but worry not, we’ve got the information you need to get past your fears and into an awesome routine that will bring you to your goals.

Before You Go:

Do your homework. Most gyms will have their own website, find a gym that offers something you will enjoy, how much they cost (including registration fees), their opening hours and of course their location. Aim for a short drive. There is no point joining a gym that is over 20 minutes out of your way, this will only detour you from getting there.

A little tip: Make sure it’s the right place for you before you fork over any dough! I often found that the right gym is like finding the right pair of shoes…some will fit and some won’t. Most places will give you at least a day for free or will have a free promotional period. I suggest that you use that free time before you commit any of your money. You wouldn’t buy a $500 shirt without ever trying it on would you?

What to Bring With You:

  • Bring gym clothes and shoes. You are there to put in the work and sweat. There is no point wearing your Sunday best or restrictive clothing. You need to wear something comfortable that you don’t mind getting dirty. Ladies, remove your makeup, you don’t want to be worrying about running mascara.
  • Bring a towel. Proper gym etiquette will require that you don’t leave your sweat all over the place and being able to wipe that sweat off your face will make you feel more comfortable.
  • Bring your wallet. Most gyms will offer that free trial period but they will still require that you produce some sort of identification on your first visit. (you can always return your wallet to your car afterward if you don’t feel comfortable having it with you.)
  • Bring a lock. Chances are that nobody will touch your stuff but better safe than sorry. Bring a lock so that you can keep your focus on your workout and not on the stuff that you left inside your locker.
  • Bring your own water bottle. Keep yourself hydrated. Every gym will have a water fountain for refills.
  • Bring an mp3 player. Having your own music playlist is great way to get into the mood and feel the right vibe. It will also help you feel more confident and comfortable because you won’t feel the pressure of having to talk to strangers. They will notice the headphones in your ears and leave you be.
  • Bring a friend. If you really feel that nervous about joining the gym then recruit a friend to go with you. Having a gym buddy can really reduce the pressure and keep you accountable.

Gym Lingo:

  • A Rep: is short for repetition which is one single full range of motion of an exercise.
  • A Set: Is a series of repetitions strung together.
  • A Spotter: This is going to be another person such as a training partner. Their job is to make sure that you use proper form and technique and to help take the load off of you should it be necessary. You should know your own limitations and decline spotting other people on your first few visits to the gym.

A Few Notes:

1.Should you use free weights or machines? I would recommend that you begin by using the machines because they are easier to figure out and they require much less skill and technique. Thus you are much less likely to get injured. They may not be as effective as the free weights but they will definitely get you into the swing of things.

2. Follow a very simple program for the first month. I recommend an upper and lower body split where one gym session focuses on working your upper body only and the next session focuses on your lower body. If you train two consecutive days in a row then you must take the third day off to rest. Most gyms will have trainers and it may be worth spending the money on a session or two if still feel anxious.

3. Realize that everyone feels awkward and out of their comfort zone. How often do you walk around in everyday life bench pressing? Don’t get discouraged that you are not breaking world records on your first day… everyone has to start out somewhere.

4. Don’t overdo it! Your main goal for the first month should be to develop a habit of consistently. That is going to be very hard to do if you are too sore or injured because you trying to compete with other people around you. Take your time and ease into it. The grueling workouts will come in time but you must first prepare your body.

5. Don’t worry about other people. There are always bad apples that may give you nasty looks or comments but the vast majority of gym goers are friendly people who are there for the exact same reason that you are. Either way you are there for you and not for other people! Stay focused and the only comments that people will have this summer will be about how great you look.

6. Make sure your body is properly fueled! Have a protein shake handy before and after your work out to maximize on your results.

Your first visit should be all about getting acquainted with your gym. The main goal of your first month is to develop a habit of consistently. Results will come with consistency but you need to develop the habit of actually showing up. Remember that the most important thing is to keep at it and not to quit. 2106 will become the year that you finally achieved your fitness goals.

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