If you are new to fitness and exercise, the gym can be an intimidating place. Some of the people there are big, loud, and more than a little scary, and what’s with all that confusing equipment? How can you get over your fear and get the most from your “gym time?”
First, Do a Little Research.
Stay away from the bodybuilding magazines; for now, you are not ready for that training style. Start by reviewing the videos and articles on this site and follow up with health and fitness books, videos, and articles online or in print. Using this information, choose some initial goals. Are you going to the gym to lose weight, gain muscle, or to “get fit?” The answers will determine your focus and which parts of the gym (and which equipment) you will use initially.
Take Advantage of the Introductory Tour.
Most gyms also provide a free trainer to walk you through your first workout. If you can afford it, hire a personal trainer for a few training sessions until you become comfortable with the setting, the equipment, and why you are there. If you can’t afford a trainer, find a knowledgeable friend as a training partner.
Tips for The Gym:
Have a Plan
Plan out your workout before you get to the gym. If you don’t, you will bounce around from station to station without accomplishing anything useful. Or you will chat with your new gym friends rather than training.
Avoid Peak Hours
Your goal should be in and out in the shortest possible time while still accomplishing your workout. This is harder to do when the gym is busy, and you must wait for the equipment. Most gyms are most active before work (7 am-9 am) and after work or school (4 pm-8 pm).
If these are the only times you can work out, exercise on “off” days. Many people train on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, so try to schedule your workouts Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.
Once you get to the gym, focus on your goal, move through your workout quickly, and minimize your rest time between sets and exercises. This approach will simulate interval training, an efficient and effective style of training. Trainees who perform interval training for as little as 20 minutes will burn more calories and build more lean muscle than people performing traditional longer workouts. Interval training will also boost your metabolic rate for hours after exercise, helping you burn fat long after you leave the gym!
Your water bottle will save time and is a much more sanitary way to stay hydrated. You do not have time to wait in line for a drink of water!
The gym can be a fun, friendly, and productive place, but remember why you are there - to exercise, not socialize. Exercise will improve your mood, lengthen your lifespan, support your immune system, and help you reach your body weight and fitness goals.
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