At some point in life, we’re all first-timers at something. And honestly, it can be pretty intimidating. This could be anything from driving a car to attending your first physical therapy session at Movement 101 or a facility you fancy.
Well, the same applies to working out at the gym. Feeling a little apprehensive about hitting the gym for the first time is normal. You might be wondering what to wear, how to use all of the equipment, or where to start. Don’t fret – we have your back. Go over the pointers below to make your first trip to the gym count.
- Handle the Logistics
Have your ducks in a row before you even set foot in the gym. This includes everything from having the proper attire to packing your gym bag the night before. A pair of sneakers, comfortable clothes you can move in, and a water bottle will also suffice.
In terms of membership, find out if your health insurance covers any gym membership or if your workplace has partnerships with gyms in the area. If not, research the different gyms around you and find one that fits your needs and budget.
- Create a Game Plan
You need to develop a strategy, if we may. This means knowing what exercises you want to do and how long you want to stay at the gym. Your choice of exercises should entirely be up to you – there’s no point selecting routines you loathe, as this can demoralize you even before you get into the swing of things.
Alternatively, you can look up workout routines online, ask a friend who goes to the gym regularly or even hire a personal trainer for a session or two. Don’t be afraid to ask for help – the staff at the gym are usually more than happy to give you a tour and show you how to use the equipment.
- Start Slow – Don’t Go Overboard
Let’s say you walk into the gym and notice lots of fancy equipment and people using them. And you feel the urge to try everything out and do what they’re doing. We get it; we’ve all been there before.
Don’t get into the thick of the action on day one, as you could overwork your body. Working out takes time to get used to. Start slowly by going to the gym a few times a week for 30 minutes to an hour.
As your comfort level increases, so can the frequency and duration of your workouts. In short, ease into things and stick to a manageable routine. This could be as simple as a few sets of squats, some lunges, and some crunches.
And remember to warm up before working out and cool down afterward. Doing so helps your body adjust to the new activity level and can prevent injuries.
- Listen to Your Body
It’s essential to listen to your body when working out, especially if you’re just starting. Thus, know your limits and rest when you need to. If you’re feeling pain, dizzy, or lightheaded, stop what you’re doing and take a break.
Sure, other people in the gym could be working out for hours, but that doesn’t mean you should. Plus, they have their goals and could have been at it for years. So, focus on yourself, where you are in the journey, and what you can handle.
- End on a Good Note
Our bodies release endorphins when we exercise. These hormones can help improve our mood, relieve pain, and increase feelings of happiness and well-being. So, end your workout feeling strong and accomplished.
Consider working up a sweat during the last few minutes of your routine or pushing yourself to do a few more reps than you thought you could. This can help you stay motivated and could encourage you to come back.
- Take Care of Yourself Afterward
After a workout, refuel and rehydrate your body. For starters, freshen up, eat a healthy meal and drink plenty of fluids – especially water. A post-workout meal or snack helps to replenish glycogen stores, repair muscles, and reduce inflammation.
You might want to consider investing in a foam roller too. This can help soothe your muscles after a workout and prevent soreness the next day.
Most importantly, have fun. If you’re not enjoying yourself, then what’s the point? Find a workout you love and feels good for your body. And don’t be afraid to switch things up from time to time. Change is good – it keeps your body guessing and helps prevent boredom. But as you start, don’t forget to go easy on yourself, focus on your goals, and listen to your body.