If you’re new to working out, the gym can seem like an incredibly daunting place, especially when you’re surrounded by people who seem to know exactly what they’re doing — while you’re simply trying to figure everything out on your own.
But there’s no need to feel overwhelmed or embarrassed. There are some important things you can do to achieve incredible results and get the most out of your time at the gym. Even better, they’re simple to follow and will help you feel more comfortable in the gym so you can make fitness a major part of your life.
The key to amazing fitness results that last a lifetime comes down to just one word: consistency.
Being consistent with your health and fitness will do more for you than any crash diet or 30-day challenge could ever do. And one of the best ways to develop consistency is to choose a certain number of workouts per week and commit to them fully (even if it’s initially a lower number than you’d like).
For example, it’s far better to go to the gym twice a week every single week than it is to go four times a week, then none, then once, then four times again, etc. With consistency, you’ll start to build real habits and make constant progress without stops and starts.
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For beginners, it can feel intimidating walking around a weight area packed with people throwing around super heavy weights and doing all kinds of exercises you’ve never seen before.
Where do you begin? How do you know you’re even doing things “correctly?”
If you’re starting out, enlist the help of an experienced friend to show you around. Consider signing up for a few sessions of personal training to learn a few exercises (and correct form) and get more comfortable with weight training and using the equipment.
Finally, you can start with bodyweight exercises to learn the movements and technique before “graduating” to the same exercises with weights.
Knowledge is power. And the more you know about working out, the more comfortable you’ll feel.
Also, learning new exercises isn’t only about building more muscle or burning fat. You might start off feeling wobbly and shaky when you do something for the first time, but that’s good; when you learn new exercises, you’re actually training your body and mind to learn how to move better and expanding what you’re capable of doing.
Can you touch your toes while keeping your knees straight? Can you do a squat without your heels coming off the ground? Can you reach your arms over your head without arching your lower back?
Saying “no” to one (or all) of those questions tells you what you need to improve. Spend time increasing your mobility at important areas like your hips, shoulders and mid-back by adding helpful drills and stretches to your warmup.
You’ll be able to do more in the gym and you’ll feel a lot better overall.
You can usually tell how experienced a gym goer is by how they warm up.
Do they spend time on a foam roller or do they go straight to the free-weight section? Do they do a series of interesting-looking dynamic mobility and activation drills or do they hop on a treadmill and jog for 10 minutes?
Before every workout, take a few minutes to use a foam roller. It can seem weird at first (and surprisingly tiring), but over time, it will help improve your muscle tissue, increase your mobility and prevent injuries.
Then, follow our warmup drills to prepare your body and mind to have a good workout. (This helps you improve your mobility, too.)
Whether it’s your first day at a gym or your 20th year, you should always follow good gym etiquette. It will help keep you safe and healthy every time you workout. Here are some basics:
- Always wipe down benches, equipment, mats, etc., before and after you use them.
- Always put your weights and equipment back in their proper place.
- Politely wait or ask to use equipment. You can also ask to “work in.”
- Give everyone enough space to exercise.
- Don’t leave your things lying around where people can trip on them.
While this list doesn’t include every piece of gym etiquette, doing these things goes a long way toward helping you feel more “at home” in the gym.
One massive thing that will help you navigate the ups and downs of your fitness journey is having a great support group. Whether it comes in the form of your family or in the form of new friends you meet in the gym, having the right “tribe” in your life can make all the difference.
Try taking beginner-level classes at your gym and mingle with others, find an accountability partner with one of your fitness-savvy coworkers or even make an effort to get to know the staff at your gym. All of this can help improve your comfort level and give you a push in the right direction.