Starting Exercise-Routines: A Gym Guide for Newbies!
January means full gyms. It just does. And while that makes my heart happy as a fitness instructor, as a gym regular it fills me with dread. Not that I don’t welcome new gym friends and wish for their success, but I want to be able to do my work out without tripping over someone who doesn’t know how to put their weights away or waiting for someone who sits on a weight machine while they respond to text messages and take a call from their mother. And I was new once too. I hated being the one getting in other people’s way and taking more time than I needed to get through my sets. So here’s some common gym courtesy guidelines and tips to help make the new gym transition a smooth one.
#1 Clean Up After Yourself
Whether you are using a treadmill or a weight bench, clean up when you are done. Wipe down the bench or the machine before moving on. Its cold and flu season, and germs are everywhere.
#2 Bring a Towel With You
Gyms are made for getting sweaty, but it keeps things much less, well, wet if you have a towel with you to wipe your face and hands when things start getting particularly taxing.
#3 Don’t Make Assumptions
People can’t hear you when they have earbuds in. I say this because people are often mistaken for rude or standoffish because they don’t respond to a greeting or question while they are working out with earbuds in. It could be that they just didn’t hear you. On the other side of that, some people wear earbuds when they work out because they aren’t there to socialize. They have a work out to get through and they don’t want to chat.
#4 Be Efficient
Some exercises require more time than others. Some workout programs call for more reps. But when the gym is crowded, be efficient in your workout. Get on your machine and do what you need to do and then move on. Don’t respond to 20 text messages in between sets while other people are waiting for the machine. Don’t take a 5 minute break between sets and stare off into space.
#5 Share the Machines
Allow other people to work in in between your sets. If you are doing a circuit and doing more than one exercise per round, let someone hop in on a machine you’re using in between sets.
#6 Ask First
Ask before jumping on a machine you just saw someone using. Just because they stepped away for a second doesn’t necessarily mean that they are done. Generally people take at least 45 seconds to a minute in between sets on weight machines.
#7 Clean Up After Yourself
Rerack your weights when you are done using them. If you are using a machine where you add weight plates before you do your reps, put those weight plates back when you are done. Odds are that the person using the machine after you probably doesn’t use the same weight you do, and they shouldn’t have to rerack your weights before they can set their own.
#8 Ask Questions
If you have no idea how to use a machine, ask someone. Ask someone who works at the gym or someone who appears to know what they are doing. I would much rather someone ask me how to use something than hurt themselves or break a piece of equipment doing something the wrong way.
#9 Try Not to be Intimidated
Yes, you’re the new kid. Yes, being the new kid sucks. But regulars can smell fear. Go in there and act like you belong. Everyone will respect you for it. All the new equipment, new people, new routines, it can all be very overwhelming and intimidating. I promise it will get better the more you go.
#10 Don’t Let the “Regulars” Make You Feel Unwelcome
I would love to tell you that gyms, just like schools or jobs are all sunshine and rainbows and everyone is welcoming and excited to have you there. And there will be loads of people that are excited that you are there. There will also be people who think that a certain elliptical is their elliptical machine every morning at exactly 7:30 am and they will be annoyed that you didn’t just know that. Guess what—they don’t own that machine, or that gym and you have just as much right to be using the equipment as they do. Be respectful and polite of course, but if you were there first, you have every right to finish your workout whether they are used to using that machine or not.
#11 Try it All
If you are brand new to the gym scene, there is no way to know what you are going to like and what you will dread unless you try it all. Use the elliptical and the stair climber and the treadmill and the crossover machine. Try lifting free weights and using weight machines. Try group classes. If you try something and hate it, there are tons of other options. Don’t give up.
#12 Remember That You Won’t Be New Forever
As both and instructor and a regular, I see so many people quit because they get tired of being new. They get tired of feeling like they don’t know what they are doing or they are in the way. You’ll get through that awkward new gym stage. Soon you will be the one who thinks of the elliptical as theirs and you’ll be rolling your eyes at the new person on their phone on a weight machine. Stick it out.
From iFamily to Yours,