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You’ve decided it’s time to buy a gym membership and get your butt into shape! Great! The only problem is, you’ve never had a gym membership, and you don’t know which gym to join, much less what to do when you get there.
I’m here to walk you through a few easy steps to help you choose a gym, start working out, and be well on your way to meeting your fitness goals!
Choosing a Gym
Unless you live in a really small town, you may find yourself faced with many gyms to choose from! How do you choose?
Convenience is super important if you want to succeed. I suggest finding a gym within 5 minutes of your home or office, or somewhere in between that you can hit during your commute. If you have to go out of your way to make it to the gym, you’ll end up making excuses why you can’t make it.
Do you have friends or family already attending a gym who would work out with you? Workout partners keep each other accountable and are more likely to reach their workout goals.
Depending on your life situation or fitness goals, some gyms may not meet all your needs. Check for childcare, pool access, afterschool programs, group classes, run clubs, etc. Take a tour of the gym before you commit to a membership to make sure it has all the amenities you need.
Hours and Access
You want the gym to be open at the same time you plan to work out. Many gyms have 24-hour access, but not all of them do. Make sure the gym’s hours of operation match your schedule.
Learn the Equipment
Schedule an appointment with a staff member to give you a walkthrough tutorial on all the gym equipment. Many machines have pictures and descriptions on how to operate them, but don’t assume that will always be enough.
A staff member, and preferably a personal trainer on staff, should be able to take 30-60 minutes to walk you through all the equipment (and this should be offered for free, but check before signing up). Use this time to ask lots of questions and even ask for demonstrations. This is important to ensure effective use of the equipment and more importantly, to ensure personal safety.
Have a Plan before you Arrive
Don’t walk into a gym planning to “wing- it”. If you do, you’ll spend more time walking around aimlessly than actually working out.
Plan a workout schedule for the week. How many days do you want to spend on cardio, and for how long each day? For strength training, plan to cycle through the various muscle groups, or alternate arms and legs each day.
Speaking of planning – I highly recommend you bring a recovery drink with you for working out! Check out The Best Electrolyte Supplement for the Keto Diet!
If you are completely lost on where to start, I’ve compiled a list of free and subscription-based fitness apps you can download to your phone. I relied on these types of app heavily when I began strength training to tell me what to do and when to do it.
Consider a Personal Trainer
If you have the extra funds, a personal trainer can be invaluable. They will push you to go further than you would push yourself. And because you spent the money on a personal trainer, you are less likely to make excuses not to go to the gym.
A personal trainer teaches you proper workout techniques and form. They may introduce you to exercises you would not have thought of on your own.
Depending on the personal trainer, they may even give nutritional and supplement advice to help you succeed in your overall health and fitness goals.
A personal trainer is a great investment in your health if you have the extra money.
Some gyms have a list of rules to follow posted on the wall, but if your gym does not, here are a few unspoken rules to consider.
Wipe down the equipment after you use it. Even if you don’t have obvious sweat marks left behind, it’s good practice to give the bench, chair, seat or handles a quick wipe down after use. Most gyms have paper towels and spray for public use in all the rooms. If not, a paper towel and hand sanitizer do the trick too!
Don’t talk on the phone
I take my phone to the gym with me. Phone apps can be a useful tool for working out whether using an exercise app or your phone’s timer for interval training. But trying to work out while the person next to you is carrying on a phone conversation is super annoying and distracting.
If the call is that important, take it outside the workout room.
Be courteous of others
Many of us like to take gym photos…it makes for good Instagram photos. However, your fellow gym mates probably don’t want to be in your photo. And never take photos in the locker room…for obvious reasons.
Put equipment away when you are done
It’s up to everyone at the gym to keep it nice and tidy. Sure there are employees there to assist members, but just like it courteous to take your empty trash out of a movie theater, it’s best practice to put things back in their place at the gym.
Share the equipment
If the gym is crowded, keep your workout to 30 minutes or less on the cardio machines. Only pull out the equipment you need for the current set of exercises you are performing, and be willing to alter your workout plan if necessary. When possible, you may consider avoiding those busy periods.
Give people space
Be aware of what other people are doing, and walk around them in a wide circle. It’s not cool to interrupt their current set, and you don’t want to risk getting smacked in the head with a dumbbell.
Final thoughts on how to get started in the gym
Walking into a gym can be intimidating for a first-timer, but the more you go, the more you’ll learn the ropes, and the more comfortable you will be.
Don’t compare yourself to others at the gym. Everyone is at different stages, and you have no idea where they started. Your only competition is you. Focus on your progress, your strength, your success.
Take before pictures. You won’t want to, but you will be glad you did later on. We have this terrible ability to see ourselves (in our minds) at our unhealthiest. Before and after pictures are great testimonies to ourselves, even if you never share them with others.
Be patient with yourself and be consistent. You won’t see results overnight, but they will come! As the saying goes, “Start something today that you will thank yourself for a year from now.”
If you liked this post, please leave a comment below and let me know what you think and feel free to ask me any questions!