We all know that starting a workout plan at the gym can be overwhelming in many different ways. If you have not been before, or have not been for a long time, it can seem as though everyone knows what they are doing but you. Do not sweat it, everyone started from the beginning. Nobody is going to judge you and I have noticed that most people are glad to help out if you need some direction.
The first day is usually okay because most gyms provide an introductory session on how to operate the machines. But the second day can be confusing and even embarrassing, unless you have signed up with a personal trainer. You are quite likely to find that you cannot remember which machines you are supposed to use, or even how they work.
Relax. We all have gone through it. You will find it easier on the third day, and by the fourth you will be confident. Within weeks you will be powering through your exercises as though you were born in the gym!
Here are a few tips that might ease the way in the first few weeks:
1. If you are a complete beginner, it might be worth your while to sign up with a personal trainer for at least a couple of sessions, until you are feeling more confident. Otherwise, go with a friend. If you are both new, you can muddle through together. If your friend is experienced, he or she will help you out.
2. Take a notepad and pen with you for your introductory session. Write down the name of the machine and its position in the gym as well as a few words that will remind you what you are supposed to do on it. Especially since some machines can be used in several different ways. Also plot your progress on each machine with the amount of weight you are able to do and how many reps.
3. Do not hesitate to ask a staff member for help if you cannot adjust the machine for your weight and height, or if you cannot remember exactly how it works. They will not mind showing you again. They are there to help you and to make sure you are practicing correct form and technique.
4. Do not push yourself too hard to begin with. If you work out so hard that you can barely walk, you will be tempted to miss a day while you recover. One day does not matter much, but if you continually skip days because you are too sore, you are likely to drop out altogether. What is the hurry? After a few weeks, when your body is getting used to the extra exercise, you can increase the intensity.
5. If your knees and ankles react badly to increasing the speed on the treadmill, try increasing the grade instead. You might be pleasantly surprised to find that a slower speed, with the treadmill on an incline, burns more calories than jogging.
6. Smile and nod to the other gym users, but do not hold up their workout programs by chatting. As you become recognized as a regular, you will find that you gravitate to your own little group - probably people who have the same goals and needs as you do.
7. Wear comfortable clothing: either loose or with plenty of stretch. Avoid the temptation to buy workout gear that is two sizes too small in the hope that you will lose weight quickly. You might well shed those pounds fast - but if it takes longer that you had anticipated, you will always be conscious of those too-tight clothes.
8. Do not worry about being overweight. In a way, it is good to start off with quite a few excess pounds to lose; your success is much more noticeable than it is on slimmer gym users, and you will find the positive comments really motivating. Make sure you get a before photo of yourself at the gym when you start out. After a few months, you will be amazed at the difference. Keep the photo where you can see it to make the results really stand out.
9. If you are considerably overweight, you are likely to find that your stomach gets in the way on some machines. Just do what you can. You might feel better just increasing your fitness and losing some weight on the treadmill for the first month or so, then moving on to the machines when moving and stretching is more comfortable. Consider doing a few laps in the pool (either walking or swimming) as well as your other gym work. The water will help to support your weight and provide variety.
10. Try to find a happy medium between challenging yourself and resting on your laurels. If you can easily manage three sets at the current weight, try increasing it for the first set. If you can do twenty minutes on the treadmill without sweating, then increase either the speed, the grade, or both And remember, if nothing changes, then nothing changes!
One final tip: once you have decided on your regular gym days, resolve that nothing but an emergency will stop you going. Make your gym attendance a habit - and before too long, the exciting results will have you trying to convert all your friends to becoming exercise lovers too!
Taylor Ryan is a personal trainer dedicated to educating women to get the best body they can get. Her company TotalTonedWomensClub stresses the importance of weight training as a method to get the toned and strong body they want. Check out more at http://www.totaltonedwomensclub.com