Let’s face it: unless you’re a gym rat that has been going your entire life, the gym can be a pretty intimidating place. It’s filled with people that are incredibly fit and clearly know what they’re doing. For a newbie, you can feel like a fish out of water when you step into the gym. What are all of these people doing, and how do any of these complicated machines work? We get it. To help out those who might be overwhelmed, here are a few tips on how to get into shape as a total gym newbie.
Don’t Be Too Scared
The first and most important tip we can offer is that you shouldn’t be too scared when walking into a gym. We get it: the people are big, the machines are scary, and people are sweaty and grunting. That can be a bit off-putting if you’re not used to it. But those who live a healthy lifestyle love to help others do the same, and people working out in the gym are often really nice and accepting. If you feel totally lost, just walk up to someone and ask for some help. While you might run into a jerk or two, the majority of gym-goers are eager to help out those who need it.
When you first walk into a gym, you might feel a lot of social pressure to lift more, run faster, and be more fit in general than you actually are. But you aren’t in the gym to show off who you are; you are in the gym to become someone that you are not. Keep in mind that exercise is a process and start small. Do you think you could lift 50 pounds? Start with 20. Setting your sights low will help you manage your expectations and grow into a better athlete. It will also help avoid injury.
Go for the Simple Stuff
We are firm believers in the idea that exercise can be very accessible. But we will also admit that there are certain machines at the gym that are confusing to figure out if you’ve never used them before. With that in mind, we recommend that gym newbies start with the simple stuff. A bicep curl simply involves grabbing a weight and moving your arm up from 90 degrees. Running on the treadmill is just that: running. You don’t need to be an expert to figure out exercises like that, so start with what makes sense and just work your way up slowly.
Try Body Weight Exercises
In a similar vein, some athletes prefer to dodge machines entirely because of how complicated and unwieldy they can be. Sure, the gym is a great place to use machines, but it can also be a great spot to get down and dirty with some classic body weight exercises. And for many people, body weight exercises are all you really need to get into shape. Push ups, pull ups, sit ups, and everything else you remember from gym class can get you really fit. If you’re not sure where to start with them, look up some tutorials online before you go. No shame in that!
Set Modest Goals
If there’s one surefire way to get injured when you start working out, it’s by increasing the load on your muscles too quickly. You’re bound to feel more and more powerful as you start exercising more, but that might just be because you are gaining confidence and a bit of technique. It doesn’t mean that your muscles have become three times as strong in the two sessions you have gone to the gym. With that in mind, set modest goals that won’t push you too hard. Even if you feel like you can increase the weight or run faster, take things slowly. Constant, regular effort will get you strong enough to increase the intensity in due time.