There is nothing more intimidating than walking into the gym for the first time, especially if you have never been there before. You might have questions running through your mind like, What should I do for the first time at the gym? What time do I go to the gym if I’m a beginner? Of course, you want the benefits the gym has to offer, but stepping foot in there for the first time can kind of feel like being the new kid in school. When you aren’t sure what to do as a first time gym goer, it might feel like everyone is staring at you and watching your every move. So, if you’re feeling some of those first time gym butterflies, here’s a quick guide to making it a little less awkward.
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Know your gym surroundings
Most gyms will offer a free walkthrough tour before you even sign up. Even so, there’s a good chance, you might still feel so intimidating that you don’t actually hear a single word the trainer says to you. That’s OK.
Remember no one expects you to know what you’re doing at the gym, especially if this is your first time going. Instead of expecting to be a pro after one gym visit, plan on spending your first few visits simply getting comfortable with your surroundings.
Locate the bathrooms, water fountain, and take a moment to browse the equipment to see how other people are using it. If you really want to know your stuff, snap a picture of the names of each machine (assuming you don’t want to dive head first into the free weight area).
Know the gym equipment
Once you’ve taken the time to see which machines are in the gym, sit down on the benches or do a slow stroll on the treadmill while you look up a few of them. Don’t feel like you need to learn what every single weight machine does. Maybe start with between 3 and 5 machines to start.
Check out YouTube videos and tutorials on how to use these machines.
Doing this can help you see how to use certain machines so you can build up your confidence instead of fumbling around trying to figure it out. That way, the next time you head through those gym doors, you’ll have a strategy in mind.
Connect with a veteran workout buddy
If you want to start being a consistent gym member, but aren’t sure what to do for your first time, try connecting with someone who already knows. Finding someone who is an avid gym goer can be a subtle way of learning how to plan workouts and what machines you can start with.
Getting a gym buddy even before you get a gym membership might be the smartest idea. Oftentimes gyms will allow their members to bring a buddy for a week at a discounted rate. This way you can get a feel for the gym before committing to a gym membership.
What is the best time to go to the gym for the first time?
One of the biggest hang ups when it comes to going to the gym for the first time is knowing what time of day to go. Finding yourself at the gym during peek hours when everyone is rushing around you can be really intimidating.
While each gym will vary from time to time, it’s safe to say that most gyms will have the least amount of traffic between the hours of 9am and 3pm.
The morning gym hours after 9 are usually after the morning pre-work goers have finished their workout and are already on their work commute. These afternoon times are before the high schoolers are out of school and before the post-work gym goers are heading in. Of course, if you happen to have the option for an all-day gym pass, you could also scope out the late nigh scene between 10 and midnight.
Have a gym trainer in your pocket
Scoping out the gym ahead of time and getting familiar with your gym’s layout can be a good idea, as can going to the gym with a friend. However, if you really want to prepare for solo workout sessions, a good way to do it is by finding workouts ahead of time.
The SWEAT app is a favorite gym going app, especially for women. This fitness app gives you access to several different female trainers all who offer different styles of workout routines. When you download the SWEAT app, you can browse the different programs until you find one that fits best for you.
Downloading an app like the SWEAT app can give you the literal step by step process on how to structure your workout, give guidance on proper workout form, and tell you the equipment that you need ahead of time.
Of course, the SWEAT app is an additional cost of $19.99 per month, that might be worth it to help get you started. If you’re not looking to add any additional expenses to your gym membership, you can find free workouts online as well
Simplify your gym workout goals
One thing that tends to happen a lot when people start going to the gym for the first time is that they go really hard right away. First time gym goers might show up 30 days in a row and hit every possible machine. They are determined to make a change and without knowing it, they burn themselves out in the process.
Most gym memberships go unused after 3 months and this is usually do to gym burnout.
Instead of thinking you can go from a non-gym goer to a full-time gym member who burns 1,000 calories per workout, think again.
When you first start going to the gym set practical goals that feel easily obtainable. Here are some ideas of simplified gym goals:
- 20 minutes at the gym per day
- 3 days of weights per week
- 5 machines per visit
Remember, setting gym goals can be very simple and very minimal. No one else is paying as close attention to you as you might think. Most of the time, people are too fixated on themselves and their own workout.
Stay off the gym scale
There is a lot of ebb and flow when it comes to being a consistent gym goer. One thing just about any gym member or fitness expert will tell you it’s that the scale is not a good determiner of health.
A prime example of this is SWEAT app instructor, Kelsey Well’s. Well’s has always been very open about her struggles with body image and the ever-present battle for a good number on the scale. Now, after finally winning the battle with her mental and physical health, she avidly works to remind women that the number on the scale doesn’t matter. Join Kelsey Well’s fitness program on SWEAT.
Remember workouts don’t only happen in the gym
When you see everyone else working out or talking about going to the gym it can feel like it’s something you should do too. Remember, working out at the gym isn’t the only way to get a workout.
Exercise can still be a daily walk, gardening, or dancing in your living room. What’s most important is that you find a way of moving your body that feels fun and obtainable for you.
If you don’t believe me, check out this post on the transformations that took place after one week of doing the Hot Girl Walk.