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How to Start Going to the Gym

For many beginners, the gym can be a scary place with many unspoken rules, starting from what to wear to how to use the equipment. If you were planning to get a gym membership but feel a bit anxious about stepping inside the building, you don’t have to worry.

5-Minute Crafts prepared this article with tips that can help you to break the ice and start working out like a boss.

1. Figure out what your motivation is for this.

The first thing to figure out is your goal and what you want to achieve by going to the gym. If you’re going for the wrong reasons or you have unrealistic expectations, the chances are high that you will get discouraged and quit.

Working out should be a lifestyle change for you and not just something that you do in the spur of the moment:

  • Remember that this is something that you’re doing for yourself — for your health, both physical and mental.
  • Regular exercise can help you lose weight but not just that — it has some long-lasting benefits like reducing the risks of potential health problems.
  • Working out can also lessen the everyday stress you are feeling and improve your sleep.
  • You can also have some “me time” and relax at the gym.

2. Find the right outfit.

Wear something that is comfortable. It is more about practicality and functionality than looking fashionable.

  • Put on shorts, leggings, t-shirts, or tank tops and you can even add a baseball cap if that will make your gym experience more comfortable.
  • Avoid flip-flops, loose shoes, and clothes that are not breathable.
  • Match the clothes with the activity. For example, it is better to wear leggings than baggy pants if you are cycling. Your gym clothes should support the exercise you are doing.
  • Be sure to find a good pair of sneakers. If you are running on a treadmill, wear running shoes. If you are lifting weights, then it is better for you to have a pair of supportive flat shoes on.

3. Scout out your options and find the right gym.

You can test a couple of gyms before buying a membership card. Many workout places allow tours, free trials, and sessions with personal trainers who can show you how to do certain exercises. Use this opportunity before you make a decision.

Scout out the gym — when you first get to the gym you probably won’t know where things are and that is ok. Schedule a tour ahead of time and learn where the locker rooms, bathrooms, and basic machines are. Plan your tour so that when you actually go and start working out, you will be prepared.

4. Make a training plan and stick to it.

If you’re investing time and money in going to the gym, you want to be sure that the program you are on is effective. Make a plan that will work for you so that you can reach your goals, get healthier, and be more fit.

Some typical programs can consist of: lower body exercise day, push and pull day, arm day, etc. In 3 or 4 days you will be able to work through the whole body, and then you start cycle training all over again. In this way, you target each and every muscle in a much more focused way, and then you let them rest for a couple of days (2 days for example).

There are also bulking and cutting strategies:

  • Bulking is a period when you eat more calories than you actually burn, so the goal here is to gain weight and muscle mass.
  • Cutting is the period when you eat fewer calories so you can lose body fat but still maintain muscle mass.

Bodybuilders often use these strategies to gain muscle and lose fat. Bear in mind that even though this has its benefits, it also has some downsides that you should keep in mind. If you are planning to include these programs in your workout plan, consult with a professional beforehand.

5. Know what, how much, and when to eat.

Before going to the gym, you should eat something and even though it is not necessary, it could maximize your workout. Some studies have shown that eating or drinking carbohydrates before working out can improve your performance and allow you to practice longer with higher intensity. Still, watch your portion sizes, and don’t eat too much.

Before exercising — include some good snacks like energy bars, bananas, apples, yogurt, fruit, smoothies, low-fat granola bars, or sports drinks:

  • If you’re eating large meals eat them at least 3 to 4 hours before exercising.
  • If you’re eating small meals or snacks eat them 1 to 3 hours before exercising.

After exercising — your muscles need to recover, so eat meals that have carbs and proteins within 2-hours of your training session. Some good after-workout foods are yogurt and fruit, peanut butter sandwiches, low-fat chocolate milk and pretzels, smoothies, etc.

6. Prepare your gym bag.

There are some essentials that you can pack into your bag and bring to the gym:

  1. Outfit — as already mentioned, prepare sneakers and your gym clothes.
  2. Reusable water bottle — it is important to stay hydrated, so it would be best to drink 8-10 ounces (236-295 milliliters) of water 15 minutes before you start the workout. Then, drink an additional 8 ounces (236 milliliters) every 15 minutes.
  3. Toiletries — if your gym provides showers then you can bring shampoo, conditioner, and body wash. If it doesn’t, you can bring a dry shampoo, cleansing wipes, and deodorant.
  4. Towel — be sure to prepare a fresh, clean towel before you go to the gym.
  5. Snack — after a workout, you can eat a protein bar, walnuts, or some of your favorite fruits.
  6. Headphones (optional) — you can also wear headphones because music can motivate you to work out harder.

7. Don’t ego lift and don’t overdo it.

Good form is more important than heavy lifting. Exercises need to be done properly so you should focus more on your form and how you do it than on heavy lifting to impress the people around you. In this way, your progress will be much faster and you will avoid possible injuries. Be conscious about your exercise movement and practice good form.

When you’re just starting to work out, you can include 3 sessions in a week and then increase the number to 4, 5, or even more, if you like it. It’s better to work slowly but securely.

8. Ask questions.

Don’t be shy about asking questions. If you are having a problem with adjusting the machine or you forgot how to do some exercise, you can ask a worker or a fellow gym member for help. This can help you to figure out everything much faster and easier.

Bear in mind that nobody has ever walked into a gym knowing everything on their first day. It is a process of learning and it takes time. Be patient and persistent.

9. Be ready to make mistakes.

Prepare yourself to make mistakes and even look silly. It is all about learning and it’s a process. Learning from your mistakes will help you progress and make you feel better about visiting the gym. The more time you spend in the gym the more you will know what to do and what not to do. Although this first stage can make you feel uncomfortable, the faster you are willing to make mistakes and learn from them, the quicker you’ll grow from them and it won’t be uncomfortable anymore.

10. Make physical activities a part of your life.

Make training a part of your life. Think about what exercises you like to do, what exercises your body needs, and find something that you want to get better at. If you’re doing exercises that you like and that are convenient for you, it can help you be happier, more confident, and stronger. Enjoy the process of working out and don’t expect to be motivated all the time. Discipline and accountability are more important to keep you moving toward your goal.

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