Most good gyms will offer you an induction – this is normally a short session where they will show you round the gym and facilities and more than likely offer you prices for a PT. It is a good plan to have a basic idea of the goal you have in mind so that you can get the most out of this induction. It doesn’t have to be complicated, just something simple like:
- I want to add muscle
- I want to lose weight
- I want to increase my fitness levels
It is likely that the member of staff will ask you about this so they can show the most relevant equipment to your needs.
Research some moves
Youtube is full of all kinds of workout plans, it’s worth watching some videos beforehand covering some basics like:
- Squats/squat rack
- Chest press
- Shoulder press
- Dumbbell curls
It might be an idea to favourite these on your device so you can quickly find them again if you need to remind yourself when you’re in the gym.
Some lingo busting
I remember when I first started going to the gym and I felt like everyone around me was talking French. There’s a lot of gym lingo, so here are some basics to help you out:
Movement – basically the exercise you are doing, so a dumbbell curl is a movement/exercise.
Reps – short for repetition, this is how many times you will do a movement. If I curl a dumbbell 3 times, that’s 3 reps.
Sets – the amount of rounds you do of an exercise. If I curl a dumbbell 3 times, and I do 3 rounds, that’s 3 sets.
Form – form basically means how well you do the exercise; the point of moving weight is to engage the muscle, with the right form you engage the muscles correctly.
Tempo – tempo is the speed at which you move the weight and if you pause and hold the weight within a movement, a PT will likely show you the tempo they want you to use for any exercises.
DOMS – DOMs means Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, once you’ve been to the gym you’ll notice your muscles might ache the next few days, this is called DOMs!
There’s plenty more but hopefully that’s enough to keep you going for now!
When you get there
OK so you’ve got yourself to the gym, now what!?
Make sure you spend a short while to stretch out and get your blood flowing, this is important as it helps to prevent injury.
As a minimum I jump on the treadmill for 10-15 minutes to get my blood flowing before my session. This also gives you an opportunity to see what machines are where, and start to plan what exercise you might go for first.
You can use the whole gym
At first you will probably feel a little uncomfortable and “out of place”. From the outside it looks like everyone else knows what they’re doing, but don’t let this put you off, everything in that gym is something you can use and have paid for the right to use.
Don’t feel like you’re “getting in the way” – most long-time gym goers have a number of alternative exercises ready in their minds; if you are a using a machine they were going to use they’ll just do something else or switch it out for another movement. Or you may find that they’ll ask if they can “work in with you” – that just means they will do a set in between your sets while you rest.
And if you’re a woman, don’t be afraid of the free weights section, there may be a lot of men in there but you are welcome too!
Sign up for a group class
If you’re not feeling ready to go it alone, sign up for a group class for your first visit. This helps take the pressure off you and also gives you an opportunity to scope out your surroundings and start to get used to things before going it alone. You also might meet someone who you can train with and you may learn some exercises you can do on your own.
I hope you’ve found some practical advice here and feel a bit more prepared for your first day in the gym. Just remember, you can do this!