If you are at that point where you have decided to hit the gym for the first time, you may be feeling a little apprehensive, not knowing what to expect or what you should or shouldn’t do at the gym. Maybe you have already been to the gym and are feeling intimidated by the regulars who clearly know everything there is to know… this is a totally normal feeling to be experiencing, and in order to help you beat this sense of nervousness, here are some things to remember that will help ease you into it.
First things first, wear appropriate clothing and shoes.
.Although this doesn’t mean you should go out and buy the most expensive gear, ensure that you have comfortable and appropriate clothing to wear. You need to be able to move without restriction, and sturdy, comfortable shoes will help you balance and protect your feet where necessary. Make sure your clothes are clean and you have had a shower beforehand and, at the end of your workout, wash and hang them out to dry. It’s not accepted as common practice to wash your clothes and shoes at the gym though (unless such facilities are specifically provided). Always make sure you read the rules and regulations posted on walls and boards throughout the entire gym. Not only will this help you to understand what you can and cannot do, but it will also guide you to understanding what and when you can do certain things.
Take a sweat towel and water bottle with you to wipe down equipment after use and keep yourself hydrated.
As a courtesy to those you share equipment with, always use the towel to sit on, or lean against where possible when using machinery. A gym often also provide sanitizing spray and paper towels to wipe down equipment for health and hygiene purposes.
The biggest pet peeve of regular gym goers is those that don’t put the equipment back where they found it.
Not shelving weights or leaving equipment lying around is highly inconsiderate and can cause injuries to others around you. Similarly, be aware of where you exercise. Use the allocated spaces and designated areas, and don’t exercise in common areas such as walkways. Give people space to do their own workouts and be aware that you don’tblock their view of the mirror. Using the mirror isn’t about ego, it’s about correct form, preventing injuries and being aware of surroundings – use the mirror for these reasons only.
When it comes to using the gym equipment, check if there is a cost involved as not all equipment is free to use.
Similarly, check if there are instructions on the equipment to help you understand how and why it is there; if you are unsure ask for help. Often the equipment and machines have time limits attached to using them, so pay attention to signs and rules and be sure to stick to these so that you don’t hog the equipment. Adhering to time limits means everyone can use the equipment and have a beneficial workout. Also, don’t waste time by lounging around on your cell phone, there may be other people waiting to use the equipment you are taking up.
Weights are often a scary part of the gym setup. If you are ready to train with weights, always be considerate and don’t take up space in front of the weight rack, instead, choose your weights and move to a designated area to use them.
Be sure to always put the weights back in the correct place and try not to drop the weights (most commercial gyms do not have the right weight type that can be slammed onto the floor without getting damaged, or without causing damage). In the same way, if you are using weight bars, unload the bar equally, taking one plate from each side off in an alternate fashion to prevent the bar from tipping or falling over. If you see someone getting ready to lift weights – whatever that may be – don’t interfere or distract them. Give them space and focus on your workout.
Here’s to a fulfilling gym experience!