My Top 10 Tips to Get Started At the Gym
Working out at the gym can be intimidating. There is a lot going on and learning to navigate a new environment is always difficult.
Here are my top 10 tips for people who want to workout at the gym and how you can use them to get started quickly and stay consistent for maximum results.
Find a gym that is MOST convenient. Literally the most important part of working out at the gym is working out at the gym. A gym can have all the amenities, spas, smoothie bars, and top of the line equipment that money can buy but if it is all the way across town and takes a 45 minute commute that you don’t want to take to get there- then it’s the wrong gym. Choose the gym that has the equipment you want, fits your budget, and is easy and convenient for you to get to. The most effective training program is one you can execute consistently which means you want a gym that allows you to be as consistent as possible. Maybe that means finding a gym with daycare so you don’t have to worry about finding a babysitter. Maybe it means finding a gym that is on your route to work so you can easily stop by while on your commute. Assess what your top priorities are and choose a gym based on your needs and that allow you to be consistent.
Start with one thing at a time. It’s overwhelming- I get it. There is so much to be learned in a gym if you are not familiar with the equipment or atmosphere. I always recommend with mastering one thing at a time or even one type of equipment at a time. For example: Start by mastering movements with dumbbells only. That way you can stay in one part of the gym- learn the form and technique- and then move on to other equipment once you have built up your confidence in dumbbell movements. You don’t HAVE to do it all. Do what leaves you feeling the least overwhelmed and know that you have time.
Ask for help. Every professional gym should have an informed and knowledgable staff that can teach you how to use each piece of equipment with proper form. Many gyms also have an introductory training session you can use with a certified personal trainer who will take you through each machine and teach you how to use it properly. If the staff does not or cannot teach you how to use the equipment properly than then is an indication you are not at the right gym for you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help! The fastest way to mastery is by asking qualified people to share their knowledge with you.
Start Small, Build Big. Set realistic goals and expectations around how often and how long you will stay at the gym. The best training program is the one you can execute consistently- that means you want to set yourself up for success by building up consistent habits you can follow for the long term. If you are a complete gym newbie- I recommend beginning with a goal to hit the gym 2x per week. Once you have 2-3 weeks of doing that consistently then you can continue to add a day at a time and repeat that pattern until you have reached the number of training days you desire. Be patient. Be consistent. It’s the fastest way to see results.
Focus on form and technique before the amount of weight. The best possible thing you can do for success in the gym is prioritizing form and good technique. If you are unsure if your form is correct then ask a professional! Watch tutorials online from educated and qualified fitness professionals. Focusing on form and technique will keep you training longer and harder as you are able to prevent and reduce injuries as well as reduce risk for overtraining.
Ignore Everyone Else The #1 reason people tell me they feel uncomfortable in the gym is because they are concerned with other people judging and watching them. I am here to tell you that no one cares about you as much as you care about you. I don’t say this as an insult- we are predisposed as humans to be a bit self-focused, it is a survival strategy. Fortunately for you, the gym is not a threat and *most of the people there are not a threat either. Just like at the grocery store- you are not walking around the grocery store constantly staring at other people and what they have in their cart or what food they are buying- so are other people at the gym not concerned about what you are doing or how you are training. Most of the people at the gym are there for the same reason as you: to get a good workout, and are focused on finishing their training so they can move onto the next part of their day.
Practice Proper Gym Etiquette Creating a positive and encouraging gym environment takes intentional effort from everyone. Contribute to a positive gym environment by cleaning your equipment after use, and re-racking your weights after a workout.
Pair the Gym with Something You Love Not everyone is born to be a gym-rat and that’s okay! But pairing thee gym with something you love with going to the gym it will help increase motivation and keep you consistent while also making it more enjoyable. Example: Listen to your favorite band or playlist ONLY while at the gym. Or designate a specific Netflix show that you ONLY watch while on the stair master or treadmill. By pairing something you enjoy (your favorite show) with an activity you are less motivated to do, you get the best of both worlds and make that activity far more enjoyable.
Have a Gym Go-Bag Keep all your most necessary gym equipment: water bottle, training shoes, towel, bands, etc. in a gym bag that you can keep in your car, by the door, or at the office. This way you always have everything you need for the gym at hand and never have to worry about missing a session because of missing equipment.
Remember to have FUN! The ability to move our bodies is a privilege and the best thing we can do are movements that are enjoyable and motivating. That doesn’t mean that you won’t ever have to do movements or exercises that you don’t enjoy, and it doesn’t mean that you should avoid or stop movements when they stop being fun. But it does mean that the majority of your programming should be fun! If you are not seeing the results you want from your program or if you find yourself consistently dreading your workouts then don’t be afraid to pivot, experiment, and find ways to move that you enjoy.
You don’t HAVE to go to the gym to get great results, but the gym can be a great place to learn new skills, create accountability, engage with a great new community, and accelerate your results. Like all new things- the key is to be patient. All new things are hard. Give yourself grace and enjoy the process!