Everybody Starts as a Gym Newbie. Here’s How You Can Be the Smart and Confident One
As someone who loves working out, I consider the gym my sanctuary. I instantly fell in love with the environment and asked myself why I did not sign up sooner. I love everything about it.
Except that it’s not true. While I go to the gym regularly and enjoy each session, it was not like that when I started. I totally understand why people choose to rely on crash dieting (even though they know that they will be tempted to declare cheat months, just two weeks into the diet) instead of working out.
My first day at the gym is no different than my first day at school: uncomfortable, intimidating and anxiety-inducing.
During my first day, I was inclined not to run on the treadmill because I thought running away was a better idea. I was unfamiliar with how to operate any of the equipment and everyone seemed to be friends with each other. And because it was my lucky day, I tripped in my shoelace, making my face fall flat on the floor, in front of all the incredibly gorgeous, modelesque females who were nowhere near my then-physique.
Although I wasn’t entirely clueless, I could have felt more confident if only someone acquainted me with gym-related stuff. Don’t be that girl I know. Read this handy guide for starters to help ease your gym anxiety and prepare you for your first day.
Q: Where do I start?
A: Decide on your fitness goals first. Do you want to focus on cardio, strength training or bodybuilding? By having a clear goal in your head, you can have a program specifically created for your needs.
Q: Should I get a trainer?
A: Yes. I knew how to operate the machines by observing the “old” guys but my trainer showed me how to use them properly. A trainer will also help you perform each workout in the correct form, reducing risks of injuries or accidents.
It’s easier to quit the program if there is no one constantly reminding you of your goals and giving you progress reports. My trainer made me do an extra push up or lift heavier weights when he noticed that I was being complacent. Those extras paid off and I’m glad I worked with a trainer who motivated me well.
Q: Should I do cardio or weight training first?
Answer: It depends on your goals. Many people think that it’s black and white – cardio is for losing fat while lifting weights is for muscle gain. The truth is, weight training increases long-term calorie burn, busting the common misconception that the only way to get rid of excess inches is cardio training.
This is also the reason why you should work with a trainer. Your trainer will recommend a program based on your goals and make sure that you get the most of the workout. This means that performing the most important type of exercise when not fatigued is most beneficial.
Q: Should I use dietary supplements?
A: Dietary supplements have different uses. Whey protein is for building muscle, creatine is for building muscle mass and strength and post-workout supplement is for faster recovery. For me, dietary supplements are optional unless you have a documented vitamin deficiency or don’t eat a balanced diet.
Q: Are there gym etiquettes that should be followed?
A: One of my mistakes was not reading the gym’s house rules. I was unaware that there’s a time limit for the treadmill workout, even if it seemed nobody’s waiting in line. Apparently, there was.
On the other hand, don’t just march to someone using the machine and make it painfully obvious that you want to use it. Let him or her finish his or her set.
If there’s one universal gym rule, however, it’s to treat equipment with care, and respect the people using them. Weights should be put back to where you got them and don’t leave dirty towels hanging somewhere.
Q: How often should I go to the gym?
A: Fitness experts suggest that you go to the gym 2-4 times a week, depending on your goals and schedule. Avoid training the same muscle groups two days in a row to allow recovery.
However, rest days do not count as cheat days. During off-gym days, I continue doing light workouts such as walking, swimming and dancing to keep the momentum. I also invested in an exercise bike that can be used at home.
The gym environment may be intimidating, but weights and machines aren’t there to scare you, nor the hunks and models out to strip you off your self-esteem. Now that you’re armed with the information you need, convincing yourself to go to the gym and start working out wouldn’t be so hard anymore. Just be careful not to trip in front of the attractive men and women at the gym.