You Joined a Gym, Now What? 10 Tips for New Gym Goers
It’s 2014 and you’re committed to living a happier and healthier life. Although exercise is only one component of living healthy, it is a vital one that is not adhered to by many. Less than 20% of Americans are exercising the daily recommended amount. Exercise brings numerous benefits including weight loss, lower/better managed blood pressure and blood glucose levels, strength building and agility and even has shown to enhance memory and mood. And because it’s’ no secret that healthy has become the new sexy, you decided to join a gym. Now what? The gym can feel like a different planet… it has its own culture, language, idiosyncrasies, and even customs. Here are a few tips on how you can acclimate to your new healthy home away from home.
- Make sure to have a low fat, moderate protein & carbohydrate rich snack and 16oz of water 1-2 hours before the workout. This is prep work. It will provide your body the energy it needs for a good workout and keep you hydrated as you sweat to manage your body temperature as it rises with exercise. You’ll also need to sip on water during the workout so bring a bottle of water. And make sure to have a protein rick snack within 45 minutes post workout so your muscles have energy to rebuild.
- In uncharted gym waters the first thing to do is head for the locker room. This way, you have a purpose as you walk through the gym. On your way to the locker room, you can do a quick scan to see how crowded the place is, and where everything is located: cardio machines, nautilus machines, free weights, aerobics room, basketball court, pool, etc.
- Make sure to come with a gym goody bag. Bring a water bottle, comfortable shoes, hair ties and appropriate gym apparel – nothing too tight or too revealing and something you can move in. And pack any toiletries you need for after your workout, like shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, and shower shoes or flip flops for the shower and sauna. You may also want to bring a journal to record you workouts or log them on your phone. Seriously, these essentials will make your experience much more pleasant.
- Take a tour. Do a little research before you sign up with a gym. Tour the facility with a representative from the fitness center to see what amenities they have to offer. Some gyms offer free gym trial passes anywhere from 1 visit to two weeks. Take advantage of these offers.
- Utilize the locker room. Keeping bags piled around your machine just isn’t considerate to the people trying to navigate the gym. Not only can you forget or loose your belongings, someone (maybe even you) can trip over your items and get injured.
- Avoid gym cooties. Gyms can be germy, but you can steer clear and stay clean. Everyone sweats, but it’s what you do about it that counts. Most gyms have sanitary stations with products to keep shared equipment clean. Make sure to wipe things down both before and after you use them. Some equipment, like free weights, don’t need to be wiped down each time, but always be sure to wash your hands when you’re done with your workout.
- Even beginners can use the weight room. You don’t need to be a body builder to work out in this part of the gym. Start out light and concentrate on good mechanics and form. As you grow in strength and confidence, increase the load and complexity of movements to continue to challenge yourself. You can also try pairing up with a friend. Having a partner to spot you will make you feel more at ease and you can motivate one another.
- Don’t know how to use a particular machine? Just ASK! There is so much equipment that often gets ignored because people don’t want to look silly (or get hurt!) if they use it incorrectly. If you spot a new machine that looks like something you’d like to try, but you’re unsure of how to use it, check with a trainer at the gym.
- Let music move you. Make sure your music listening device is one that doesn’t hinder your workout. Many people use arm bands or waist bands to put their devices in and now some workout clothing has built in electronic pockets. A great playlist can get you pumped up—just proceed with caution. Choose some tunes that will inspire you to have a great workout, but make sure the volume if for your ears only.
- Don’t know where to start? Try a group class.Whether its spin, zumba, or yoga, this is a great way to get started. Most experienced gym goers are up front closer to the instructor. Don’t worry about starting off in the back. As your confidence builds you’re bound to make your way up closer to the front. Come to class a little early and let the instructor know you’re new to the class. It helps them to remain considerate of the various experience levels in the class and they will check on your progress more often.