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Tips for Your First Time at the Gym

first time at the gym

According to data from the National Center for Health Statistics, only 53.3% of American adults get enough exercise. The percentage falls to 23.2% when accounting for muscle strengthening and aerobic training. 

If you’re one of the millions of Americans who want to get back to a healthy lifestyle but are nervous about stepping into a gym, you’ll want to prepare before starting your fitness journey. 

This guide will offer tips to help you navigate your first time at the gym. Keep reading to learn what you’ll need to do. 

Consider Any Medical Conditions First

Regular exercise is key to improving your health and reducing your risk of illness. You can start a moderate exercise regimen and work your way up to a more vigorous exercise routine, but you should always consult your physician before starting a new routine. 

This is especially important if you suffer from any chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis. If you’re unaware of any health conditions but are experiencing symptoms like shortness of breath while at rest or ankle swelling, then you should consult your doctor before going to the gym for the first time. 

Your doctor can help you find the best fitness routine for someone with your type of medical condition. 

Work on Your Mentality Too

Your mentality has a powerful effect on every aspect of your life. The more positive your mindset, the better your fitness journey will be.

If you’re having some gym anxiety that’s keeping you from taking that step in your fitness journey, there are a few things that can help you push through. 

The first thing you need to keep in mind is that everyone is on their own journey, and comparing yourself to other people in the gym isn’t helping you. The person lifting the heaviest weights started where you are, so there’s no need to feel shame about not being where you want to be with your fitness journey. 

While you might feel like you’re being judged when you walk into a gym for the first time, the truth is no one is paying attention to you. More people than you might imagine are feeling the same way.

Go in with a positive attitude and focus on your own path when you walk into the gym, and you’ll start feeling more comfortable right away. 

Ask for a Tour of the Facilities

Walking into a gym for the first time might leave you a little confused. This is why it’s important to ask for a tour of the place when you’re considering signing up for a membership. 

A quick tour of the gym will help you get a feel of the place and help you decide if it’s the right place for you. As the staff shows you around, you can see what kind of workout equipment is available for use and the type of people who visit this gym. 

This can help you determine if you feel comfortable enough to work out at this gym every day. 

Make a Plan Before Your First Visit

Having a plan in place can make your first time at the gym less scary. You’ll feel more confident when you know what you’ll be doing during your first visit. 

Start by setting some fitness goals. Your goals will depend on whether you want to lose weight, tone your body, or gain muscle. These goals will help you determine the best workout schedule too. 

Consider avoiding busy times on your first day to help you feel more comfortable when you’re first starting. This will help you determine what days and times work best for you. 

Prepare What You’ll Bring With You 

You’ll need to bring a few things with you to the gym to have a successful first workout. Show up with comfortable clothing that’s both flexible and breathable.

Gym shorts, leggings, a sports bra, and a soft t-shirt are a few options you might need. You’ll need closed-toed shoes as well.  

You should also bring a small bag to carry your phone and car keys. You can keep these with you during your workout or put them in a locker at the facility. 

You’ll need a towel and a water bottle during your workout too. Consider bringing some headphones if you like listening to music or a podcast while you work out. 

Talk to the Staff

The staff is there to make you feel comfortable and answer any questions you have when you’re new to the gym. Talk to them on your first day so you feel comfortable asking them for help when you need it down the line. 

Consider setting up an initial session with a trainer at the gym. A trainer can get you started by showing you the best workouts for beginners or what machines are best to use to help with your fitness goals. 

Consider signing up with a long-term personal trainer. There are many benefits to having a trainer, like having someone knowledgeable to help you choose the right exercises and someone to hold you accountable. 

Learn Gym Etiquette

You should also learn about gym etiquette before your first workout. Learning proper behavior will ensure everyone has a great experience while working out. 

The most important rule to follow is to always wipe down the machines you use. You could wipe down a machine before using it to keep yourself safe, but you should especially wipe it down after your workout to prevent the spread of germs to others. There are spray bottles and paper towels located throughout sections of every gym to help you keep clean. 

It’s important not to stay at one machine or section of the gym for too long during a session, especially if there are very few of those same machines available. This will give everyone a chance to use it. You should also not hover over someone as you wait to use their machine. 

Warming Up Is Essential

Learning how to do a warm-up is key to avoiding injury at the gym. Warming up your muscles and slowly increasing your heart rate will help make the workout easier.

The best type of warm-up typically includes doing some light cardio. You can try walking or using the elliptical for 10 to 15 minutes at the beginning of your workout. 

Stretching is also important and helps to avoid injury too. Do some head and shoulder rolls. You should also do some quad stretches and arm crosses to get the rest of your body warmed up. 

You Need to Learn Proper Technique 

Learning technique is another thing you’ll need to do on your first day. You can learn proper technique by asking the staff or your trainer how to do each exercise. 

You can also watch videos on the proper ways to do each exercise in your workout plan. 

Learn How Each Machine Works

There are many types of gym equipment you might want to use to achieve some of your fitness goals. If you’ve never worked out with any of these machines, you can ask some of the trainers to show you how to use them. 

Most machines have pictures on the side to show you how they work. You can also watch videos to help ensure you’re using them the right way. 

There are different sections of machines that help with different fitness goals.

Cardio machines are best used to help you lose weight. A treadmill is one of the most popular cardio machines. You can adjust the pace and incline to what suits you best.

Resistance machines are used to build and tone muscle. The bicep curl helps to tone your upper arm muscles.

The leg press helps tone your leg muscles as you push up with your feet. You can adjust the weight on the resistance machines and work your way up as you build strength. 

First Day Exercises

While you should know how every machine works before your first workout, you likely won’t be using every machine in the gym on your first day. There are a few workouts for beginners you should attempt first. 

Your first day at the gym should include at least 10 minutes of cardio and a few minutes of stretching. You should then move on to some of the resistance machines.

Consider doing about two sets of 10 reps on a couple of resistance machines available at your gym. You can use the shoulder press and leg press to work on your upper and lower body on your first day too. 

You’ll Need to Work Your Way up to Weights

Once you’ve worked through some of the resistance machines, you can work your way over to the weight section of the gym. Avoid grabbing the first weights you see because this will lead to injury. 

Start with the smallest weights, and as you gain strength, you can start using larger weights. You can ask the staff in the gym to help you with form and technique as you move on to heavier weights. 

You Might Enjoy Joining a Class

Group exercise classes are a great introduction to the gym and can help you achieve your fitness goals. They’re also a great way to stay motivated and make friends at the gym. 

Working with a trainer in a group setting will help you learn the best exercises to achieve your specific goals and can help you push yourself further than you would while exercising on your own. 

There are many kinds of classes for a variety of fitness levels and interests. You can try things you’ve always wanted to like yoga, dancing, or water aerobics.

Avoid Overexerting Your Body

You should avoid overexerting yourself, especially on your first day. Overexertion can injure you and discourage you from keeping a workout routine. 

You’ll know you’re overworking yourself when exercise starts to cause you pain. In this case, you should try lowering the intensity of the workout or switching to another exercise. 

Going With a Friend Can Help

One thing that can help with the nerves of going to the gym for the first time is going with a friend. There are many benefits to having workout buddies. Like joining a class or having a personal trainer, a friend can help motivate you through your fitness journey. 

Having someone in the gym with you you’re already comfortable with can encourage you to learn new exercises or try new machines. 

Make the Experience Joyful

It’s important to make your fitness routine fun as often as you can. Having fun while you’re working out can boost your mental health. That boost will help you stay on track with your fitness goals and prevent you from burning out and giving up.

You can make gym days more fun by creating a playlist of your favorite upbeat songs for your workout. Changing up your routine will also keep things from getting boring. 

Check Out These Tips for Your First Time at the Gym

Your first time at the gym can be pretty nerve-racking, but you can avoid the jitters by following the tips in this guide.

Make sure you utilize the expertise of the staff to help you learn the best ways to achieve your fitness goals. It’s also important to pace yourself and have fun while on this new journey. 

Contact Fitness CF Gyms today to check out one of our many locations or sign up for a membership. We can’t wait to help you get started on your journey to a healthier you. 


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