We’d all love to be one of those people who just lives for going to the gym. You know the type. They work out 5-6 days a week, have a personal trainer on speed dial and are dedicated to their favourite spin instructor. They look good, feel good…and most of us secretly hate them.
Because let’s be honest — going to a gym for the first time or trying a new class, can be intimidating. Those fears make it easy to talk yourself out of going to the gym and reconciling yourself to an at-home workout or just walking on the treadmill, because that’s what is comfortable and easy.
But if you ask me, now is the time to say “Screw you comfortable and easy!” We tapped up Chicago Equinox Trainer, Jonathan Hamil, ACSM-CPT, USAW (all those letters mean he knows what he’s talking about) for tips for hitting the gym with confidence. Read on for 5 simple steps to help you overcome your fear of the ‘boys club’ weights room, sign up for your first personal trainer, or try a new class without any of the new-gym jitters.
1. Accept that it's not going to be easy
This is the first, and toughest step. It would be great if we could work out three times and be able to run a marathon or have a six pack, but that just can’t be. “Success takes discipline, hard work, team effort, dedication and heart,” says Hamil. In other words, going to the gym is always going to feel a little awkward the first time you do it. But the more consistently you do it, the easier it will become (and, of course, the better results you’ll get)
2. Be aware
While there are no hard and fast rules for gym etiquette, Hamil says there are a few ways to make sure you don’t look like a newbie, or offend those gym rats we’re all trying to be.
Clean up after yourself: No brainer, especially in a place full of sweaty people. Oh, and always put away your equipment, too!
Be aware of your surroundings and other’s space: “There’s nothing more annoying than the guy still on his phone while working out or the couple on a “date” to the gym that haven’t touched a piece of equipment all day,” says Hamil, and we have to agree. Get in, get it done, get out.
Be there to work out: The gym can be a place of escape for some people from the rest of life, so be respectful and let it be your escape, too!
3. Ask for help
Trainers like Hamil are available at most gyms, and many places offer fitness planning as well as work out appointments. If you don’t have the budget to make multiple appointments with a trainer, at least make one. They can take you through all the machines and areas of the gym, to help you feel comfortable in your new surroundings. They can also help design a workout you’ll be able to replicate on your own.
4. Get on a program
Hamil says one of the major things that influence a first-time gym experience is that people aren’t sure what to do and how to do it when they get into the gym. To address this issue, getting on a program is critical.
“Anybody relatively fit has a program, whether they know it or not. Being on a program gives you a plan each day you go into the gym,” Hamil says.
It keeps you organized and accountable, and again, a trainer or even a workout app/website can easily help you set one up. Attending classes can also help give your workout regime some structure, too.
5. Reward your wins
Whether it’s treating yourself to a facial, buying that top you’ve been eyeing or taking yourself out on a post-gym smoothie, make sure you reward your wins— even the small ones! That little extra motivation will be just the push you need for when you start to lose steam. Just try not to use food to reward yourself, as that can create unhealthy habits.