So, you’ve secured a gym membership. Congrats! You’re one step closer to your health and fitness goals. With so many options at your gym–classes, trainers, equipment–where to begin? Then, there’s gym etiquette. How long can you stay on the treadmill before everybody starts forming a queue behind you? More importantly, are you certain that you’re maximising your time and money spent at the gym? Before you turn around to exit and quit before you’ve even begun, you’ll want to sit down and read a few pointers on how to survive your first few days at the gym.
If you’re a real beginner, but serious about starting a gym program, there are a few things you can try out first to test the waters. What you need to know is that there’s no need to go solo! Joining classes is the easiest way to see what you like and to build relationships with teachers and fellow gym-goers. You can also consult with a personal trainer, who can assess your wants, needs and goals. You can also get the best of both classes and small group fitness classes. Lastly, don’t be afraid to try out new equipment, no matter how cutting edge and complicated they may seem. This will help cut through the boredom. Just be sure to ask the trainers for a quick explanation so you don’t get injured or make a fool of yourself.
How often should you go to the gym? Since you’re starting out, you shouldn’t expect to have the same mental and physical capacity as those who hit the gym six days out of the week. Aim for two to three times a week. It’s enough to make progress and keep up momentum. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to go to the gym more than two to three days a week if you have extra time but build up slowly.
Once you’ve settled into your routine, you might begin to worry about progressing. What you can do is slowly get out of your comfort zone. Gradually shift your goals each week/ month. You could accomplish this by increasing your reps or intensity for each of the exercises. You could even try running for longer distances or adding different types of exercise such as rowing, cycling, Pilates or yoga. You’ll also want to keep a record of your gym sessions. Log your workouts and note the day’s accomplishments. You can also make things more fun and interesting by establishing relationships at the gym and making workouts competitive. Join a team sport or simply hang around with stronger and more experienced gym-goers who have the same mindset as you.
Most gyms should have time limits for equipment and will be clearly posted for you to see. Be mindful of sticking to that time limit. If somebody is waiting to use the machine, you could even suggest to take turns after each set. And, when you’re on that particular machine, make sure you’re actually using it and not spending time on your phone or just resting, especially when there are other people waiting. When you’re done with whatever machine you’ve used, always wipe it down with a towel. Nobody wants to sit in another person’s sweat. When using weights, don’t leave them lying around after you have used them and return them to the rack where you got them. This is not only courteous, but weights left lying around can be a safety hazard.