Your first time at a gym can be a scary experience. Don’t know what to bring or where to start? Here are some tips to help keep you relatively unscathed during this new experience. Plus learn gym etiquette to keep those dirty looks at bay.
But first, ask for a free introductory promotion or pay as you go pass.
Most facilities will offer you a free week before you fully commit to join. Use this pass to make sure the gym is a good fit for you. You want to be sure that the equipment is well maintained, the fitness class times work for you, the facility is clean, and the trainers appear to know what they are doing.
What to bring.
Lock – you probably don’t want to be carrying a bag around with you so you’ll want to bring a lock for the lockers if your gym provides them. If your gym doesn’t provide lockers, just bring in the following items:
- Towel – bring a towel with you to dab your forehead or lay down on any machines you may use. Some gyms provide these so you may want to call ahead.
- Water bottle – essential!
- IPod – music helps the time go by faster and many people use arm bands or waist bands to put their devices in and a lot of workout clothing has built in electronic pockets.
Be familiar with gym etiquette.
- Be sure to wipe off any equipment that you use. The gym is a breeding ground for germs; do your part by thoroughly cleaning any equipment you use. Make sure to use a clean towel and disinfectant, and wipe down everything that your body came into contact with.
- Ask to “work in.” If you think someone is done with a machine, but they are still standing next to it, you should ask if they are done. If someone is not done, proper gym etiquette is to let you “work in.” This simply means that you would take turns doing sets on that particular machine.
- Wear proper attire. Keep in mind that many gyms have dress codes, so check them out before you go.
- Honor machine time limits. If people are waiting for equipment, make sure that you adhere to your gym’s posted time limits. If 30 minutes just isn’t enough time for your workout, choose a less popular machine to work out on instead of the treadmill or elliptical.
- Put away equipment when you finish using it. Re-rack your weights and return equipment where you found it.
If you don’t know how to do something, ask!
Ask a gym employee how to use a particular piece of equipment that you are not familiar with. If you want a more extensive tutorial on machines, or on working out in general, you can schedule a session with a personal trainer. Many gyms offer new member orientation, either in the form of a free personal training session or a gym walk through. The orientation usually includes a tour and a general idea of how to use a few pieces of basic equipment.
Take a Class.
If you are just starting out, look for words like “basics,” “101,” and “intro” to be on the safe side. If you are comfortable, go early and introduce yourself to the instructor and get yourself a prime spot.
Go with a friend!
You will find it easier to walk into the gym with a supportive buddy. You can take a class, or schedule a personal training session together, and, if you make it a regular date, you can hold each other accountable.
Don’t be too self-conscious!
Most people at the gym are so concerned with themselves that they are not the least bit concerned with what you’re doing!