[In writing this piece, I realized the topic is actually quite the rabbit hole. I’ve laid out some preliminary information below, and will continue to expand on it in the future, but I’ve decided that simply writing about it will not be the most effective or efficient way to go about it.
That’s why I’ve decided to host my first FREE WEBINAR. In webinar format, we’ll be able to cover a lot more ground, give better examples, and even answer some questions. CLICK HERE for more info and to sign up!]
Simple and easy are not always one and the same. And nowhere is this more evident than with weight loss efforts.
The plan is simple: start working out regularly.
It’s that last word that tends to get us into trouble. You join a gym, get a quick tour, and as soon as you’re let loose on the place the fun stops and the intimidation begins.
Am I doing this right?
Oh, crap - why does everyone have a ___ but me?
How does this machine work?
Why does everyone else know what they’re doing?
Why is everyone staring at me?*
Feeling like a tourist has its place [like when you’re a tourist, for example]. But in a large room full of clanging machines, grunting, probably terrible music, and a bunch of sweaty people who appear to know what they’re doing, feeling like you don’t belong can lead to giving up in short order.
We fear the unknown. That’s not new information. Being confident in what to expect and having a plan of execution are essential to lasting success in the gym. So rather than making yet another resolution to lose some weight and then giving up after a few weeks, set yourself up for success before you even set foot in the gym!
Before You Leave The House: What To Have
Workout Clothes: Necessary
Most gyms have some regulations on what is appropriate attire and what is not. Though you’ll have to check with your individual gym for their exact rules, they usually boil down to a few simple guidelines:
- No jeans
- Athletic shoes only
- Nothing too revealing
This means that workout attire mostly falls into the category of what makes you feel comfortable. And let’s not pretend that feeling like you look good is a part of that! Dress however makes you feel your best and allows good, unrestrictedmovement.
A couple of suggestions: I recommend you err on the side of more form-fitting than flowy. Overly loose clothing can be both dangerous (because body parts and/or equipment can get caught up in it) and problematic for movement correction (because you and/or another person should be able to see what your body is doing when it moves, not your clothing).
Combination Or Key Lock: [Usually] Necessary
I’ve never seen a box gym that didn’t have lockers for daily use (meaning you can’t leave your stuff there when you’re not in the gym). Some gyms actually have locks built into the lockers where you choose a 4-digit code, turn the lock, scramble the numbers, and then have to return to that same code before opening it again.
Those are awesome.
Water: Mostly Up To You
I’ve also never seen a gym without a water fountain. But if it’s always crowded or tastes gross, go ahead and bring a bottle.
Towel(s): Only Sometimes Necessary
Some gyms have towel service, some don’t. Some gyms offer big towels, some only have small ones. I would simply ask ahead of time and be prepared. Carrying a small towel around with you is great for wiping away sweat from your body and for wiping down machines after you use them (and sometimes even before...yuck). Just make sure you don’t use the same side for both! Because gross.
If you plan to shower at the gym, you might want to bring your own large towel. They’re usually not very fluffy after multiple use-and-wash cycles.
Clothes to Change Into: Depends on Where You’re Going!
Music: Completely Up To You
Just make sure you have headphones or earbuds. And if you think that sentence is unnecessary, you’ve never ridden public transportation.
Before You Leave The House: What To Know
What(ish) You’re Going To Do
It’s important to have a plan or a routine, including a warm-up that matches your workout and a cool-down at the end. But I say “ish” because getting too stuck on exactly what you’re going to do can lead to a lot of down time in a crowded gym. If your routine calls for barbell back squats and all the racks are taken, maybe do another exercise first or switch to another squat variety.
Are these changes perfect? No. But is it something to fret over? Not even a little bit. When it comes to the habit and routine of working out, going in with a flexible plan is a much better way to be efficient with your time than either not having a plan or sticking too firmly to one.
How the Gym is Laid Out
Nothing can both make you feel awkward and waste time in the gym more so than circling the entire place looking for the right piece of equipment. Have an idea of the layout ahead of time and you’ll feel much better about it.
The Different Equipment Options, How They Work, and How to Safely Use Them
This might take some research on your part (or some joining of my webinar!), but most big box gyms have the same basic options as far as equipment goes. There will be cardio equipment (like treadmills, stationary bikes, rowers, and ellipticals), pulley/cable machines, leverage-based machines, and free weights. They will also usually have some smaller offerings like kettlebells, mats, medicine balls, inflatable balls, etc.
Common Gym Etiquette
To be respectful, aware, and safe in the gym, there are a few unwritten (and sometimes even written) rules by which most gym-goers abide. One important thing to note, though, is that some people will not follow these rules, and it’s perfectly acceptable to quietly judge them.
- Don’t work out in front of a weight rack or a machine that you’re not using.
- Re-rack your weights when you’re done with them!
- Don’t drop your weights! They’re not yours, it’s dangerous, and it doesn’t make you look tough. The ONLY exception to not dropping weights is if NOT doing so would result in injury.
- Wipe down your machine/bench after use.
- Don’t grunt or yell super loud. I mean...you can, but why?
- Be respectful of other people’s time, too. If the gym is crowded or you’re using a popular piece of equipment, be sure to share. #kindergarten
- Don’t bring your gym bag out onto the workout floor with you. Some places straight up don’t allow this. It takes up valuable space and it’s a tripping hazard. Not cool.
That's all that will conveniently fit here. Turns out there was much more to say about the subject than I initially thought, but it's really important to me that people properly set themselves up for success rather than jumping in and then jumping out just as quickly
If you're interested in the webinar, either CLICK HERE for more info or sign up below!