If we’ve heard it once, we’ve heard it 1,000 times: NEW YEAR, NEW YOU.
Currently, every gym in America has filled to the gills with longtime gym rats, fairweather fitness fans, and newcomers alike. As a fitness professional, my heart soars seeing so many people prioritize their health and my I’ve got my fingers crossed that their enthusiasm doesn’t fade.
If you’re new to the fitness scene, the crowds can be super intimidating. And why wouldn’t they be? You don’t know where you’re going, you may not know what you’re doing, and the bro circling your bench to pounce the second you rest is enough to make anyone say, “eh...I’ll start tomorrow.”
Regardless of where you’re working out if you’re experiencing some gym intimidation these tips can help you gain confidence AND muscle mass.
Take a Lap
As a newbie, it can be tempting to dive right in but taking the time to familiarize yourself with the facilities and lay of the land can be helpful.
If you’re in a box gym there will (most likely) be a method to the madness:
- Cardio machines are together
- EZ bars, barbells bars, and dumbbells are together, and there may be a few sets of them throughout the gym depending on how big your gym is
- Machines will be scattered throughout but will flow by body part or target muscle
- Squat racks will be near plates, bars, and other freestanding pieces
- There will be smaller stands with interchangeable grips scattered throughout the cable machines
- Keep an eye out for hand sanitizers and disinfecting wipes, it’s common courtesy to wipe down your equipment after your done
If you’re taking a class at a studio get there early* so you can get a tour beforehand.
*As a first-time client at a group exercise class arrive 10-15 minutes before your class start time is crucial to ensure you’ve signed the proper waivers, have a credit card on file and can get the rundown of the class from the front desk. When you’re late, you’ll miss crucial bits of information that can help you get the most bang for your buck. Don’t be THAT person. Okay?!
Ask for Help
Don’t be afraid to ask a front desk member or off-duty trainer to give you a hand with a piece of equipment or to help you find something. I am NOT shy about asking for help pulling stubborn pins, repositioning a massive piece of equipment, or asking where I can find XYZ machine. It’s kind of nice because it breaks the ice and gives you an easy introduction to someone on the inside. The next time you show up, you’ll have a friendly and familiar face to say hello to, and you’ll feel right at home.
When going to a box gym have your plan written down and know a few other drills should the machine you need be taken by someone else. Anytime I’m working out by myself, I make sure to write my plan in a way that is convenient to the floorplan. I don’t want to waste time going from one end of the building to the other in between sets, so I make sure my workout flows in a way that’s effective and convenient.
Make sure you know how many sets and reps to complete as well as how much time to rest between sets and drills.
Clean Up After Yourself
One of the most ANNOYING things about a fitness facility both studio and box alike are members who aren’t courteous. It’s a better experience for you, your trainer, and those around you when you clean up after yourself. It’s that simple.
- Organize your footprint, so you take up as little space as possible
- Keep your equipment out of any aisles
- Wipe your area with a disinfecting or sanitizing towel when you’re finished. Most gyms have canisters of wipes placed throughout the space, or by the exits
- Finally, PUT EVERYTHING AWAY WHERE YOU FOUND IT
Shift Your Focus
When you’re at the gym, your focus should be working out. Close all of your apps so you can quickly toggle back and forth from your music to your workout. Put your phone on Do Not Disturb, so you aren’t tempted to answer calls, texts, or emails.
Can I be “real” for a second? Real talk and I think I speak for every trainer who has ever lived…
If you’re in a group fitness environment, for the love of God, please don’t bring your phone into the studio. Unless you’re a member of our armed forces, a doctor, a firefighter, or anyone else who may be on call for their profession, GET OVER YOURSELF. You don’t need your phone. It’s a distraction to everyone around you and frankly, it’s disrespectful.
The Apple Watch is personally my worst fahking nightmare. Everyone’s wrists are beeping, lighting up, and flashing constantly. As someone who doesn’t believe in wearables, I say get to the gym, work your ass off, and move on with your life. Unless you’re tracking your nutrition, sleep, and hormones as precisely as you monitor your output during a workout…dare I say…it may not be 100% worth your time? THIS IS MY PERSONAL OPINION!
Try to focus and be present during your workout to get the most out of your time, experience, and buck.
Don’t forget the most important thing when experience gym-intimidation. No one is looking at you – everyone is too obsessed with themselves. Just go in there, do your thing, and live your life!!