If you’ve joined a gym for the first time, or are heading back after a long break, stepping onto the gym floor can be a daunting experience.
Gyms have a reputation of being full of toned, fitness fanatics who workout seven days a week, gulp down protein shakes between sets and only pause to take gym-selfies. While gyms do attract fitness fans who often have well toned bodies, don’t let preconceptions or first impressions put you off your new gym habit. Instead you could find the gym full of supportive people and a great environment to start your fitness journey.
To help dispel some gym myths and make stepping onto the gym floor for the first time less daunting, here are 5 things you need to know about joining a gym.
1/ Appearances aren’t important
Walk into a gym and you will likely find people of all ages and sizes working out. Modern gyms attract all types of people who have only one thing in common – the desire to get fitter, healthier and have a good workout. It can be easy to feel subconscious if you feel you don’t look like a fitness model, but after spending time in a gym you will soon see that appearance doesn’t determine how fit or strong you are. If you are overweight gym goers will be supportive of the fact that you are taking steps to live a healthier lifestyle and, if not, it just shows you that you need to take your money elsewhere and move to a different gym!
2/ Weight lifting is for everyone
A few years ago the weights area would have been a male-only zone full of bodybuilder types grunting as they tried to out-lift each other. Those days are gone, and now you are just as likely to find women smashing out sets in the weights room as men. In fact, the last few years have seen a huge increase in the number of women taking up strength training. Whether you are male or female, lifting weights is a great way to tone up and get stronger. And women, it won’t make you bulk up, if anything it will likely help you to lose weight and slim down.
3/ Pre-planning your workout helps
A great way to make the most of your time at the gym and to stop you walking around wondering what to do next, is to pre-plan your workout. Having an idea of what cardio and/or weights you are going to do will help to make being at the gym a lot easier and help focus your workout. Just keep in mind that at busy times it is likely that some machines and weights will be being used, so it’s a good idea to be flexible and have alternatives already prepared. To plan your workouts there is lots of inspiration around from bloggers to YouTube videos, just remember that what works for one person might not work for you, so always keep in mind your own abilities, fitness level and goals.
4/ There is no right way to workout
Continuing on from this, always remember there is no right way to workout. While it’s great to get inspiration from those around you, don’t mindlessly follow someone else’s fitness routine, whether it is a friend or an celebrity with thousands of followers. Your fitness journey is unique to you and along the way you are likely to make mistakes as you discover what works for you and what doesn’t. Everyone had to start their fitness journey somewhere and almost everyone made mistakes. Remember even the fittest and strongest person in the gym once stepped onto the gym floor for the first time!
5/ Gym etiquette matters
While it’s fine being new to the gym, knowing some gym etiquette will help you to make friends and avoid getting evil looks. Wiping down machines and weights after use is considered good manners in the gym, as is putting back weights and equipment after use. If you see someone lifting weights close to equipment they don’t seem to be using, it’s still a good idea to check that it is free before using it. Also don’t needlessly sit on or hang around equipment that you are done using. In general, being polite and considerate will go a long way to helping you to win friends on the gym floor.