If you’ve joined the gym and you’re still not sure what to do with your membership, you may be looking for something to spur you on. You might be unsure how to use the equipment or just not confident enough to join the seemingly endless brigade of people who look like they have their life together in this intimidating environment. Yes, when you first start out at the gym it can be scary, but knowing a few handy things before you go can really help.
Join a Friendly Gym
Make sure that you join a gym that you’re comfortable with. Have a look around before you commit, and make sure the staff are friendly and willing to help. Pure Gym is a great affordable gym, which offers classes, the latest equipment and is open at convenient times.
What to Wear & Take
Don’t worry about having all the gear and no idea. Just wear comfortable workout clothes – Sports Direct have some good quality brands at a discounted price. You should wear trainers which have already been worn in, to avoid getting blisters. In your kit, you’ll need a bottle of water, a small towel and possibly some headphones to block out the sound of the gym. If you have Spotify, you can find some great workout playlists such as throwback playlists, 90s playlists and rock playlists.
The Different Areas
There are usually three different areas in every gym:
- The cardio machines – this area includes treadmills, bikes and cross-trainers.
- The resistance area – This is where you’ll find equipment for strength training, such as barbells, dumbbells, squat racks and benches.
- The flexible space – This is the bit of the gym where you can do stretches, mat work or train with kettlebells.
A lot of gyms will offer a free personal training session when you join. This is a great way to get started in the gym – you can discuss your goals with the trainer, whether that’s to lose weight or gain muscle. The trainer will then come up with an exercise plan which is tailored to you. You can follow this training plan until you get more comfortable with the equipment.
You should always warm up with some stretches before you do a workout. You can also warm up for five minutes or so using the treadmill. The important thing is to get your heart rate up and avoid injury by ensuring your muscles are ready to be exercised.
Create a Plan
A workout plan can help you feel like you know what you’re doing in the gym. It’ll stop you wandering aimlessly from machine to machine, and you can track your progress by increasing reps. You can get inspiration for a workout plan from a magazine, YouTube, Instagram or blogs.
If you’re going to be lifting weights, you need to make sure that you’re lifting a weight that you’re comfortable with. If you haven’t done weights before, start light to ensure that your muscles will get used to lifting weights. The weights area can be the most intimidating part of a gym, but you have every right to be there, so stick with it and you’ll be just as confident as the other people using it in no time.
Once you’ve finished with a piece of equipment, clear up after yourself. Re-rack weights and take the plates off the barbells. Wipe down the machines with your towel and your fellow gym users will definitely thank you.
If you have to visit the gym at busy times, it’s ideal to try and vary your workout so that you’re not spending too long on one piece of equipment. This will mean other members can use the equipment too and there won’t be long queues forming.
Lots of gyms offer free classes included in your membership. This includes Pilates, Circuits, Spinning and other types of exercise. It’s a good way to get used to working out and the instructor will help you work on your form. You’ll learn exercises which you can take into the gym with you, and you might even make a friend who will become your new gym buddy.