We’re about a month in to the New Year, right about the time when peoples’ new resolutions begin to fizzle out. If you’ve joined or are still thinking about joining a gym this year (I hope it’s Primal) here’s your first goal: focus on building the habit before the muscle. The latter will come soon enough if you succeed on sticking with this new endeavour. Here’s a few tips on how to make your new fitness journey efficient, safe, and long-lasting.
1. HAVE A PLAN
The worst thing you can do to get your new plan started is to not have a plan at all. It would be a good idea for most new members to have some instruction and structure. The potential for injury is huge in a gym and can happen pretty easily if you’re not sure what you’re doing. If you hurt yourself, you’re definitely not going to be hitting the gym again anytime soon and then your whole plan is out the window. If you’re completely clueless as to what to do, it might be worth working with a personal trainer. Working with a trainer is specific to your personal goals and the best setting for someone who has absolutely no experience or confidence in a gym. If you’ve got a rough idea of what you’re doing, the next step would be to jump in to a class or group training setting. Although not always specific to your needs and goals, you get some structure and instruction. If these options aren’t up your alley, it would be wise to at least head to the gym with an experienced friend.
2. DON’T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF
For some, gyms can be intimidating when you’re not used to them. Persistence will build your confidence quickly, but here’s the truth: 99% of the other members couldn’t care less if you were there or not. People want their gym to be a good, positive atmosphere. Just as much as the staff, the members would usually prefer their gym be filled with people who know what they are doing and are being safe. If you’ve got eyes on you it’s likely because people want to make sure you’re being safe or are noticing your progress as newcomer (they’re proud of you!). If you’re truly uncomfortable and hate your time at the gym, refer back to number 1 on this list.
3. GYM ETIQUETTE
This is possibly the most important thing to know when entering a gym. Pretend the gym is your home and all the members are your roommates. You wouldn’t want to be the one crappy roommate that everyone hates right? Live by this:
- Put everything back where you found it (yes, those weights are in specific spots)
- Wipe down benches and equipment after use (no one wants to soak up your sweat)
- Don’t use an unreasonable amount of equipment at once (circuits are cool, but within reason)
- Try not to drop weights unless you “need” to (personal records are cool but the eccentric phase is usually cooler) *
*Doing bigger lifts in the right setting can usually be considered an alright time to drop weights.
- Be open to sharing/working on equipment (we can all work together)
4. DON’T BITE OFF TOO MUCH AT ONCE
Is the gym a totally new thing for you? Then treat it that way! You wouldn’t learn to skate and then expect to be in the NHL the next day, right? Joining a gym and overdoing it is a huge mistake and happens way too often. Don’t give yourself the excuse of not going to the gym anymore by injuring yourself. You will likely be a little sore in the beginning (that’s normal) so don’t let it scare you away. There is good and bad ache, if you’re not sure what you’re feeling then chat with a staff member to clear your head. Lastly, if you are basing your workout off of something you found online, be careful. Unfortunately there’s quite a bit of garbage out there that is very easy to come across. Use discretion; if something seems ridiculously hard then chances are you don’t need to be attempting it quite yet. Keep it realistic!
You’re at the gym to better yourself. Maybe you want to lose weight, get stronger or faster, improve your energy or de-stress your life. Whatever your reason is, you’re making a good choice! It might be tough, but try not to let ego get the best of you. Plan to stick with this new habit for the long haul. You’ll likely find it improves your life in more ways than you originally expected.