The gym can be a very intimidating place to someone who is
new to it and unfamiliar with the unspoken rules, complicated machines and gym
etiquette that everyone else seems to know. Here are some tips to alleviate
your anxiety and help you ease into your new, healthy lifestyle.
Take a tour
Most gyms offer you a brief tour before you first sign up.
Take it. Don’t assume you’ll know where everything is or how everything works.
Not everything is intuitive in a gym environment and even if you’ve belonged to
gym before, they’re not all the same. Make sure you ask lots of questions,
not just so you know how things work, but also to make sure it’s the type of
gym you will feel comfortable in.
Leave your cellphone
in the locker
Unless you’re using your cellphone with earphones to listen
to music, leave it in the locker in the change room. Apart from the fact this
is your time to exercise, there are few things that will irritate your fellow
gym-goers more than someone talking business on the treadmill next to them. Besides,
if you can conduct a business call, you’re probably not working out hard enough.
Have a plan
It’s all very well to sign up at gym kitted out in sporty
new workout gear... but looking the part and being in the right place won’t get
you any closer to your goals. Avoid being one of those people who sign up
at the beginning of the year and are MIA by the time winter arrives. Hire a qualified trainer to
write you a
training programme that you can follow, even if they’re not there for every
workout. This will also help you avoid another big mistake many people new to
gym make – exercising without correct form. Not only will this lead to injury,
but it probably won’t get you any closer to your goals either. However, if you can’t afford a trainer, join a
group class until you feel more comfortable working out on your own.
One step at a
You might be all gung-ho now, but if you push yourself too
hard, too soon and sign up for every class available or spend two hours every
day at the gym, you will burn out and very possibly injure yourself. If you
exercise with an efficient training plan you will reach your goals much more easily
and with less risk
of overtraining. Leave your ego at the door – contrary
to what you may think, no-one is keeping tabs on how much or how often you work out.
Take a towel
Getting sweaty is pretty much a guarantee when you workout,
but leaving puddles of sweat on the different machines you use is a very definite no-no. And remember to wash your towel after every session, you
never know what kind of germs
could be lurking on that seat.
Pack it away
No matter how at-home you may feel in your gym, you still
have to share it with a group of strangers, so if you use the free weights, or
a skipping rope, or a kettlebell, be sure to put it back when you’re done. Good
manners still apply even if you’re grunting, sweating and/or swearing during
Be considerate when
the gym is busy
If you can only exercise during peak times, a little more
patience and consideration from your fellow gym user is even more important than
usual. So limit your time on the cardio machines to 20 minutes, give someone
else a chance and then come back if you really, really need to. Again, it’s all
about good manners!
Many gyms have juice bars and coffee shops that offer all
sorts of delectable offerings which may be all too tempting after a gruelling
workout. But if your goal is to lose weight, resist
with all your might. Those ‘healthy’ fruit juices and smoothies pack a huge
kilojoule punch and most contain more kilojoules than you have just burned. Drink water and rather pack a healthy post-workout meal.
Don’t let the weights
section intimidate you
Many people new to
the gym feel incredibly intimidated
by the weights section, which is often dominated by fairly well-built men
grunting out reps with heavy weights. Women especially find this section
daunting and end up avoiding it. But this is to your own detriment – working
with free weights, when done right, is one of the most effective forms of
training. If you limit yourself to the machines and occasional step class you
really will be doing yourself a great disservice. If you really don’t know what
to do, hire a trainer to show you the ropes.
Learn the lingo
If you’re new to exercise, being told to do three sets of 15
reps won’t mean much to you. So learn the lingo before you go. A rep (or repetition) is how many times you do the move – for
example 15 reps would be 15 squats. A set is the number of times you do that
exercise – so three sets of 15 reps means15 squats, rest, repeat, rest again and repeat once more. If you’re really not sure, join a group and you'll soon be cranking out reps with the best of them.
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For more information on fitness and training visit http://www.health24.com/Fitness and for more information on personal training visit www.thekettlebelle.co.za
(Picture: Fitness girls from Shutterstock)