I classify myself as an Enthusiastic Gym Newbie. I first entered a gym at the start of 2013. I was more of an outdoors girl and team sports participant for fitness, however when I started a job with benefits including free gym membership I decided what do I have to lose?
I remember my first day I entered a gym; I had no idea what the heck I was doing. I walked past the weights room looking at all these buff men in front of the mirror lifting weights, overwhelmed by it all and not having a clue what to do myself I headed into the cardio room. I jumped on the treadmill so I could watch what others were doing, to me it seemed everyone was expert. After a few visits of running on the treadmill I decided to begin gym classes, bootcamp style. I really enjoyed the class as it was all set out for me and all I had to do was turn up and work out. In late 2013, I got bitten by the triathlon bug so I started focusing on my swimming, cycling and running, leaving my strength behind. After several months I realised I was lacking strength so I decided to include a few gym sessions into my training. I looked up a few exercises online and decided to give them a crack as my strength program. Although the sessions were fun and exhausting, my technique was all wrong, I was overdoing it and it wasn’t aiding to my triathlon training, just making me sore. At the beginning of 2015 I approached James de Lacey (DIME Performance Head Strength and Conditioning Coach) for a personalised plan tailored to my triathlon goals. For the first time since starting at a gym I feel comfortable and confident performing weights, exercise movements and stronger.
Top Tips for Gym First Timers
Don’t worry about being a newbie, everyone was once a beginner. It may seem like everyone else knows what they are doing but the majority have no clue just like yourself, whether it is incorrect technique or over doing it etc we all have something to learn. Be humble, be curious and be kind.
If you are serious about getting fit and strong the best thing to do is get a tailored strength program for your fitness goal. If you want to go to the gym without paying money for a plan, watch videos, research workouts, ask coaches (either at the gym or online) but don’t go in blind. Remember it’s OK to ask for help.
Start with only a few exercises. You may get excited after a few and want to continue but trust me your future self won’t thank you as you might injure yourself if you go all out first time.
Slowly progress to heavier weights or more reps as you improve, you don’t have to start lifting mammoth weights on a gazillion reps on your first day… Delayed Muscle Onset (DOMS) is a bitch.
Appropriate clothing and shoes
Shower accessories (if you are planning on showering after the session)
A small snack
During sign up, most gyms will run you through the expectations of you, the gym-goer. Make sure you listen and follow through. Also keep a look out of signs up on the wall.
Hygiene is important! Put your towel down when you are working out or after you finish each exercise spray and wipe so that next person doesn’t have to sit in your sweat.
Re Rack Weights. If you can lift it, you can put it away.
Don’t push in, if one person is hogging one piece of equipment you can ask to work in between their sets.
Whatever your goal is it important to record progress, whether it is photos, measurements, body fat %, weights, reps or distance. After your first gym session you may pull your shirt up and look down at your belly and expect to see abs, but things take time. Make sure you look back at your initial progress report and celebrate at how far you have come.