The gym can be a daunting place to a beginner, especially if you are new to exercise in general, or even if you used to go to a gym but have not been lately and are not really sure of what to expect.
Gym etiquette, gym words and gym fashion are forever changing at it can be impossible to keep up, leaving you worried to walk in for the first time in fear of doing something embarrassing. As a personal trainer for many years, I was lucky enough to help lots of people through their first time in the gym and thus have put together a few tips to help you cope with your first time.
Have a read and hopefully you will feel much more confident when you head out of the changing rooms and over to your first piece of equipment.
- Sometimes the gym can be really busy, especially post 5pm or weekends and it can be a nightmare if you are wanting to use a particular piece of equipment. Do not be afraid to ask someone if they are still using that piece of equipment, when they will be finished (or ‘how many sets are left’ is usually the gym lingo) or even to ask if you can use it while they are resting. If you are in a busy gym you can’t simply walk around not using equipment otherwise you will never get any training done, so be bold – but also be nice if someone else asks you the same questions.
- Gym etiquette is important and certain gyms will have their own rules for you to abide by (they will either tell you at induction or they will be plastered all over the walls so do not worry). The only one that you should most definitely be aware of is to always put your weights/equipment back. You may see lots of people not doing this, but believe me, it is a gym owners/personal trainers nightmare and if someone sees you walk away from an area and leaving it in a mess, you will not earn gym respect. Keep your area clean and when you move on make sure you have checked it was as you found it.
- If you are training legs, remember to wear thick leggings so there are no see-through moments when squatting! Another great tip is to make sure there is not a mirror behind you when you’re bending over in your stretches as the rest of the gym will be seeing your behind without you even realising it. A great idea is to find a quiet area for stretching and often the gym already has one available.
- If you need help, ASK. Do not suffer and hurt yourself by moving things around, and if you are not sure of how to use something, find a member of staff. You might look silly but believe me after past experience, you look sillier using the equipment wrong! Gym staff are always friendly and helpful and will always be more than happy to advise, coach or help you prepare/clear away your workout.
- This is a really important point: you have to remember that everyone starts somewhere and to never feel intimidated when in the gym. Most people are in the gym in the first place because they feel self-conscious, and they have certainly stood in your shoes and been a newbie. There will always be people that look super confident, and they pretend to be friends with everyone in the gym by saying hello. Never let egos put you off.
- Finally, if you have never performed a particular exercise before, do not guess what weight you think you will be able to lift. The key is to start with a light weight and build yourself up to a heavier one. Not only does this help you warm up, but it saves you from serious injury or embarrassment in the long run.
These six tips above will give you a great head start. If you are particularly nervous about the gym, then do mention this to the person taking your induction, as they will be able to spend extra time and care with you to ensure that you walk out of the gym confident and knowing what you are doing.
About Leanne Holder
Leanne is an MSc qualified Strength and Conditioning Coach, Personal Trainer and Fitness Blogger. She has a vast amount of experience training professional athletes, the public and freelance writing about fitness and nutrition topics. Her blog and Instagram are full of tips, resources and useful ways to change your lifestyle and improve your health!