So maybe you don't classify yourself as a person most would consider athletically inclined, but you're still looking to get into shape and tone your body. Maybe you've been working out daily for as long as you can remember, but you've never set foot in an actual gym and instead prefer working out in the comfort of your home. Or maybe you're just looking to transform your couch potato status by making a change to become more active. In any case, trying out your local gym can be a great way to switch up your scenery and environment as you exercise, and you will also be able to take advantage of some new, high-tech equipment that you might not typically use. If you're a newbie to the gym setting, you probably have a few questions, and you might even be a little intimidated—a feeling that is normal, but something you really shouldn't worry about. Before you head out and use your shiny new gym membership card for the first time, check out some of these tips to help you feel like an old pro and minimize some of the apprehension you might be experiencing as you immerse yourself in a sea of sweaty bodies, pounding hearts and working muscles.
1. Try a trial membership.
If you're dying to see what it's like to work out in a gym, but you're not exactly ready to shell out the cash for a year-long membership, try getting a sneak preview with a trial membership—something that many gyms offer. This way you can get a feel for the environment, equipment and types of services they offer—like personal training or fitness classes you may be interested in—and you can also decide whether you'll realistically take advantage of all the membership has to offer. Hint, hint: Go for it!
2. Wear proper workout attire.
One thing that will make you stand out from the crowd is your clothing. Don't show up in jeans and a t-shirt. Make sure you throw on some moisture-wicking shorts or snug-fitting pants and a breathable tank top or t-shirt. And don't forget the comfortable, supportive athletic shoes.
3. If you don't know how to use certain equipment, ask and don't attempt to figure it out on your own.
There are plenty of things that can go wrong in this situation, like trying to hop on the treadmill at what you think is an average speed, only to fly off it when you realize you've selected the maximum. To avoid injury and possible embarassment, always check with a staff member or fellow gym-goer as to the proper way to use the machines, weights and other equipment.
4. Don't compare your fitness level to others'.
As you're working out, it's natural to scope out the people around to you to assess their fitness abilities. There will always be people better than you and people worse than you. However, don't even think about comparing yourself to them. Every person in that gym with you has a different ranking on the fitness scale, and it may have taken them years of effort to reach the one they're currently at. Don't expect to be lifting like the Incredible Hulk the first time you attempt to pick up some weights, and also don't get down on yourself for not being as great as you thought you would be. You will definitely improve with time.
5. Be courteous of others' space.
It may seem like common sense, but be aware of others around you. It's not advisable to interrupt others, to try to cut someone's set short and force your way in, or to get all up in their space. It's also essential to make sure you bring a towel to wipe down the equipment before and after you use it, for the sake of everyone's health and general wellbeing. Nothing's worse than plopping down on the weight-lifting bench when it's your turn, only to find that the person before you left a puddle of sweat behind. Yuck.
6. Remember to pack your supplements and hydration.
supplements or protein
shakes can go a long way in helping to fuel your body for impending exercise. Depending on the kind, they are typically loaded with essential vitamins, amino acids and other beneficial nutrients that can help you amplify your workouts. Also, it's crucial to pack enough water or sports drinks to keep your body sufficiently hydrated and your electrolytes high so you can make it through your exercises successfully and without issues.
7. Don't hog the equipment.
When some people work out, they “get in the zone” where they tune out everything and everyone around them. While this is often a sign of dedication and intense focus, it can also become a problem if you forget that there are plenty of other people lining up to use the cardio machine you're on. Be courteous and limit your time so others get a chance.
8. Become educated on workout lingo.
You may hear words like “reps” and “sets” and wonder what the heck people are talking about when they ask to be “spotted” or “work in” with someone. Instead of assuming a deer-in-the-headlights appearance with absolutely no clue what's going on, try to become familiar with these terms. “Reps” and “sets” are ways of measuring the quantity of an exercise move you've performed. Sets are comprised of at least several reps, or repetitions, of an exercise move; in many workouts, you'll perform at least a couple sets of any given exercise. If someone asks you to “spot” them, this means that they are requesting your help in performing an exercise involving weights they can't lift. If you're in the midst of a workout and someone asks to “work in,” they're likely asking if they can share the equipment you're using.
9. Maintain motivation.
If it's your first time in the gym, you might become overwhelmed by all of the options you have in terms of machines, equipment and weights, for example. You might become frustrated if you're not able to perform as many sets of one exercise that you normally can, or you might not even be able to perform one. In any case, try not to give up. Simply move on to another exercise if you can't seem to get something down, but keep your motivation strong where you will continue to keep trying. And make sure you really want it!
10. Pat yourself on the back.
Once you've cleaned up, showered off and are ready to successfully leave with a newfound sense of empowerment, strength and motivation, be sure to give yourself a big pat on the back. Take pride in the fact that you successfully made it through your first trip to the gym, and you're now one step closer to whatever goal you have for your fitness or overall health. Lift your head up, crack a smile and walk out of that gym with a sense of accomplishment. Then turn around and repeat.
eVitamins has a great selection of sports supplements and healthy living products that can make a great addition to your gym bag. Make sure you check back tomorrow, and have a healthy day!