You're new to the gym?
You should be so proud of yourself for making the jump and getting that gym membership or finally deciding to take advantage of the one you have. You deserve to be healthy and happy, you deserve to do this for yourself, and you deserve to have a killer workout!
Just starting out at the gym can be SO intimidating… we’ve all been there. When you’re unfamiliar with the equipment surrounding you and everyone else looks like they know exactly what they’re doing, it can be a lot to take in. But hey, it’s okay. Don’t worry, and remember why you chose to be there in the first place. What motivated you? You are there for YOU and to take care of YOURSELF. Be selfish, own your time at the gym!
If it’s one of your first times at the gym, you may catch people looking at you, you may feel like your being watched… no no no. People go to the gym to work on themselves just as you are. They are eyeing themselves in the mirror, probably feelin’ themselves, and they want to see someone noticing them! It has nothing to do with you. In the odd chance that someone actually is looking at you, they either 1) find you attractive, 2) recognize that they haven’t seen you in there before, or 3) they’re watching your workout with admiration. Remember, you are there to improve! Your form isn’t perfect and you think someone is noticing? Well keep crushing your workout because in a few weeks, they’ll notice how much you improved, how much more fit you’ve gotten, and how you don’t give a damn that they’re looking! Let your improvements in form, strength and endurance inspire other gym-goers and you do you!
While just starting out, go the gym during quieter times. Typically, earlier than 7AM and between 1PM-4PM will be the quieter times at any gym. As a beginner, that will take a lot of stress off to begin with because there aren’t as many people. Then, you can just find a quiet area and the equipment you need, focus on you, and get your sweat on! 💦
Go in prepared. You don’t go to the grocery store without a list, you don’t go to the mall without your wallet, and you don’t go to a bar without your ID. Soooo, why wold you go to the gym without a plan?
Ideally, you should be giving your major muscle groups 48 hours of rest in between workouts. In other words, if you do leg-day on Monday, you shouldn’t be doing leg day again until Wednesday so that that muscle group has enough time to rest and recover before training again. Same thing follows for all of the other muscle groups. The nice thing about this, other than taking care of your body, is you can plan your workouts accordingly. So, a week might look like:
Tuesday: Chest, triceps, and shoulders
Wednesday: Back and biceps
Friday: Chest, triceps, and shoulders
Saturday: Back and biceps
Sunday: Rest day
While this is just a brief example, you can see how you can efficiently work out all of your muscle groups while still having a structured plan that gives you enough rest. With that in mind, once you decide what muscle group you’ll be training, you can follow a workout you found by your favorite “fitspo” on Instagram, or even structure a workout on your own like this Glute workout planner by Bret Contreras:
Now more than ever, there are so many outlets to learn new exercises to incorporate into your workout. Knowing what you’ll be doing at the gym will make it much easier as a beginner to walk in confidently. Plus, it will give off more of an impression that you know what you’re doing! You can even hire an online trainer who will find out what your goals are, then structure workouts for you. For some gym-going beginners, this can take off a lot of the pressure of figuring out what you’re supposed to do, and will also more efficiently help you meet your goals.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help!
Most gyms nowadays offer one or two complimentary introductory personal training sessions. While it is absolutely a sales tactic to try and sign you on to a trainer in most cases, use it to your advantage! Use the sessions to learn where equipment is at the gym, how to use a bunch of it, and learn new workouts! You do not have to sign on with that trainer, while they will try and guilt you into it, saying “no thank you,” is always an option! However, if you feel like having a personal trainer makes you feel more inclined to go to the gym and get the workout done, you bonded well with your trainer, and you feel like you actually got a great workout in, then trust your judgement and sign on! You might even look a hell of a lot cooler at the gym strutting around with your new personal trainer! 😉
Is there a girl on the squat rack next to you absolutely crushing it? She evidently knows what she is doing and has a body that shows that she is dedicated? Ask her for help! Odds are that she will be super flattered, happy to help, AND you just made a new gym buddy! If you have someone like that who you can go to workout with or even just smile at during your own workouts, it takes away a lot of anxiety of being in that foreign place; it will make you feel much more welcomed.
However, that being said, do not compare yourself to anyone. You are just starting out, and you are on square one, level, one, page 1. You do not want to go and start comparing yourself to someone who has been going religiously for the last three years and is on page 246, level 32. Again, focus on you.
Remember, you are doing this for you! You are there to benefit you, so don’t get down on yourself for feeling out of place. Don’t get stuck in the cardio room because you aren’t sure what to do next. There’s only one bench left? Go sit on it. You need those dumbbells someone just put down? Grab them. A squat rack is about to open up? Wait by it. You deserve to use that equipment, and you deserve to have a great workout!