For a lot of people, the hardest part of going to the gym is well, going to the gym. Even gym veterans can feel like they don’t have the motivation to actually get up and go, but if you are new to the fitness scene, the gym can seem very intimidating. You might be thinking, there are so many machines, what if I don’t know how to use them? What if I do something embarrassing? What if people make fun of me, or judge me for being out of shape? Let’s leave all those concerns at the door and become more confident at the gym!
Fake it til You Make It
This is the secret of the game. When you walk in, be confident. You have as much of a right to be there as anybody else so don’t feel that because you are just starting out that you are less than the regulars. We all started there once and most people know that. Just walk in, and fake it until you make it. If you act confident you will feel confident.
First Things First
When you walk in, first thing you want to do is find a stationary bike, treadmill or other easy cardio machine that gives you a view of the rest of the gym. Go to it like you are a pro, put in your headphones and get going. Why start with cardio?
- This is something easy you already know how to do, this will keep you from getting nervous.
- Even if you are a gym veteran 10 – 15 minutes is a great warm up before weights.
- There are usually several cardio machines so you can spend more time on them without keeping others waiting.
- Most important of all, you can watch others.
Make a Game Plan
While doing your cardio scope out the gym. See what machines are crowded and which aren’t. Watch what people are doing and notice their form. This is a good way to get a feel for what each machine does and get an idea of what you would like to work on. Also, this is a good time to do some research. While you have your phone search for exercises that you want to work on, and to familiarize yourself with some of the machines.
- Side note
There is nothing wrong with just doing cardio. It is a great exercise. If you have fun with it, or feel comfortable there, then by all means keep doing that. Want a more intense cardio workout? Try interval training!
You do not have to venture into the weights on your first day, week, or even month at the gym! Do what feels comfortable to you, your time at the gym is for you and no one else.
Leave Your Comfort Zone
OK, so you’ve done cardio for a while, you saw someone do a machine and it looks easy enough. No one is using it right now. Let’s give it a shot. Go ahead and make your way over to it. Most machines have instructions on them in case you forget, but let’s set the weight and get started.
Most machines have a pin mechanism where you remove the pin from one slot and put it into another one to change the weight. Start with something low. When in doubt set it to 20-30 pounds, see how tough it is, then raise or lower it from there.
A good goal is to do about 10-12 reps, rest for 30 seconds to a minute, then repeat 2 more times. Congratulations! You just completed a few sets!
While you were doing cardio, you may have noticed another machine you want to try, and while you were cranking out sets like a pro you noticed no one was using it. Go get it! This part is easy, do the exact same process you did on the last machine.
You may be wondering if you need to target certain muscle groups or do a full body exercise, and at this point, it doesn’t matter. You are burning calories, you are getting comfortable, do what you can. Its ok to do two arm exercises or an upper body then lower body. The important thing is that you are doing it.
That’s all there is to it! You can keep doing other machines or you can start doing a cool down on a cardio machine. The important thing is you tried some weights and you should now know how to do a few machines!
Next time you are in the gym, start with your cardio and try to scope out some new machines to add to your routine. Over time you will get more confident and learn to customize your workouts, but starting out this will get you one the right track!
Important things to remember
- No one is judging you. Everyone in the gym is there to improve themselves. I promise they are too busy focusing on themselves to even notice what you are doing.
- There will always be someone in the gym in better or worse shape than you are. Don’t feel embarrassed or inadequate. Before long you will have more experience than some people.
- Don’t hog the machine, if you see that someone is waiting for a machine you are using, give them a chance. Either go use another machine for a while or let them work in while you are resting between sets.
- It’s ok to ask questions! The gym employees and any trainers there are happy to help you out. If you don’t know how to use something ask for help! Maybe sign up for an intro class or training to learn the basics.
- Be friendly. Most people are there to exercise, have their headphones in and aren’t being social. That’s ok, but still be polite. Its ok to ask if you can use something, or if they are experienced to ask for pointers. Be polite and friendly. Most people at the gym are very nice!
- Remember to warm up, cool down and stretch for every workout. You will feel soreness the days after a workout while your body adjusts but this will definitely help!