I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed. -Michael Jordan
Here we are in 2013, a brand new year and a brand new you. If you’re like most Americans, the beginning of a new year means the betterment of yourself. So you’ve consulted your doctor, bought a pair of gym shoes, but now what? Well opening this article means you’re on to a great start! A lot of anxiety can come to the first time gym goer. As last year’s #1 trainer and Most Influential Fitness Expert* I’ve received questions from all walks of life and fitness levels, from beginners to pro athletes and even from other trainers. So here are a few tips gathered from my most common questions. Stay focused, and be proud of yourself for taking the first step on a journey to a better you.
1. What kind of Gym should I go to?
Every gym is not the right fit for every person. I personally recommend visiting a gym before joining. Most reputable gyms have a trial period or guest pass that can range from anywhere from a couple days to two weeks. I recommend inquiring about this and also the cancellation policy for the gym’s that bill automatically every month. Here are a couple things to look for before joining any gym, cleanliness, take a walk back to the locker room and look at the bathroom, that will tell you how clean the gym really is, are there tissues on the floor? Is the soap empty? Is there no soap at all? (eww), these are red flags. Also on your tour around the facility keep an eye out for hand sanitizer or spray cleaner that can be used to wipe down equipment. If you don’t see it anywhere ask your tour guide, if they LOOK confused then you should LOOK for the door.
2. How should I dress?
There really is not an exact way to dress for the gym but one thing I have learned as an instructor and as a gym member is the simpler you keep it the better. Men, a pair of sweatpants or athletic shorts, a medium to long sleeve t-shirt or sweatshirt, and some sneakers should suffice. Ladies, a shirt or sweatshirt and simple sweats or yoga pants with sneakers should do and let’s not forget a sports bra. Here are a few things NOT to wear while working out in a gym, Sandals or any open toed shoes, and baggy clothing that can get caught on equipment.
3. Is there a gym etiquette I should know about?
YES, Yes, Yes…Always wipe down your equipment before and after use, Don’t Scream, and don’t slam and drop the weights. Time on one piece of equipment should be kept to a maximum of 45 minutes and cut down to 20 minutes when gym is crowded. Remove your weights when you are done at your station.
4. I’ve never worked out before where do I start?
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends physical activity 3-5 workouts a week ranging from 20-60 minutes per workout. I will delve more into workouts for beginners in later post but a minimum of three days of cardio, is a great start. This will get you in the habit of going to the gym and help your body get on a schedule
5. Do I need any special equipment?
Unless you’re joining a group fitness class you won’t need anything special or out of the ordinary to join a gym. A Towel, padlock, reusable water bottle, will be the basis of your gym equipment as a starter. For those of you who interested in what to pack in your gym bag, I have a 2 Minute Video on YouTube that can help you prepare and pack . http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dh9CiZWui1M
6. Ok, now I’m in, where do I go first?
The first thing you should do is get a fitness orientation. Every gym for insurance purposes should offer and orientation where the client/member can ask questions and become acquainted with the fitness staff and familiar with the safe use of equipment. Do not be afraid to ask questions because every question has been asked before
7. What does all this equipment do?
In the “average” gym or fitness facility you will usually find 3 kinds of equipment. Cardio, (Treadmills, elliptical, etc.), Free weights (dumbbells, etc.), and the “machines” (leg extensions, cable crossovers, etc.). I will break down these categories in a later post. But as a beginner you should become familiar with the cardio equipment and see which one works best for you.
8. I feel like everyone is watching me?
This is the most first time gym goers. I can honestly say that the majority of people who I have encountered at the gym are mainly concerned with one person…the one in the mirror. I have even met people who forget that they aren’t the only person that goes to the gym. So with that said the gym is not a beauty contest or a pageant, you’re going to the gym to build a better you, doesn’t worry about what anyone else is thinking or doing.
9. Should I work out on an empty stomach?
NO. I have heard several trainers, athletes, and regular gym goers telling other people to work out on an empty stomach. I am telling you as a professional trainer for almost 10 years, and 2012’s #1 Personal Trainer, that it is harmful to your body to work out on an empty stomach. I could go into depth about the science and why but maybe I will save that for another post. To keep it simple you need to fuel your workout and that should come from a healthy pre-workout meal or snack, again I point you to my two minute YouTube video linked above.
10. How much water should I drink?
The Most asked questions by athletes and average Joe’s alike. It is important to not only drink water during a workout but throughout the entire day. Here is a cool water calculator you can use to find out the recommended amount of water for yourself during the day http://nutrition.about.com/library/blwatercalculator.htm . I would also like to point out that if you weigh yourself before a workout and notice a loss in weight after, then you should drink 16-20 ounces of water for every pound lost. Be sure to stay hydrated during your workout, the more intense you work out the more water you will need.
Well this will get you off to a good start and a healthier new you! If you have questions you would like covered in detail feel free to send them to me through email at firstname.lastname@example.org, Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @Williejae.