If you’re reading this blog, it’s likely that you’re thinking about going to the gym for the first time…amazing! However, it’s also likely you’re simultaneously convincing yourself that laying on the sofa is a much better idea and it would be easier to forget about this crazy ‘get fit and healthy’ idea after all.
But, before you leave us, know one thing, every gym-goer knows EXACTLY how you’re feeling. Trust us, these nervous feelings will disappear within a few visits to the gym and you’ll likely forget you ever felt this way. Seriously!
Since you’ve got this far, we are keen to help you let go of some of the worries you have about your first gym visit. Will people stare? Will they laugh if I only lift light weights? Will staff make me feel silly if I ask simple questions?
Read on for a few golden pieces of advice and classic gym myths we’ve debunked…
What should I do before my first day?
First things first, you want to get healthier at the gym, so if you have any pre-existing conditions (high blood pressure, heart issues, diabetes, and so on), if you’re overweight or have zero fitness, or if you have any concerns about your health, check in with your GP before you hit the gym. You don’t want to find you’ve accidentally exasperated an existing health issue. This isn’t mere precaution: for some health conditions, gym staff legally require medical clearance before you can exercise.
Pro tip: make sure you’re especially hydrated before your first few visits, it’s a good habit to get into anyway, but it will also do wonders for your stamina.
What will happen on my first day?
Depending on the gym, you might have signed up online, strolled in and be ready to start a session within minutes. Other gyms have longer induction protocols, meaning you might not even do any actual exercise on your first day. If you can’t find the right information online, it’s worth ringing ahead, this way you won’t be disappointed if you spend your first session touring the gym.
Alternatively, if there is no induction, you can specifically request an induction or PT session so you’re able to get the upfront information you need to get going.
Do I need to sign up with a personal trainer?
This is completely up to you! Booking a couple of PT sessions during your first few weeks at the gym can be a lifesaver, not only will a PT physically show you the equipment, exercises, and correct form, they will also give you an appropriate training plan for your fitness level. Once you have this, even if you don’t want to invest in PT for the long-term yet, you can start working through the plan and check back in with them for a new one every few weeks.
What should I wear?
You don’t need to kit yourself out in the latest branded gear to attend the gym — just make sure your clothes are practical for working out. Quick-drying, light clothing, is ideal as it won’t feel heavy when you get sweaty or restrict movement.
In terms of footwear, it’s worth doing a little research and tailoring your footwear to the types of exercise you prefer. If you’ll be doing lots of running then look for shoes with a significant amount of foam cushioning. If you prefer HIIT, you’ll want a shoe that will keep you supported no matter which direction you move in, as you’ll be twisting, jumping and accelerating in all kinds of directions.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t worry, some shoes will cover almost all kinds of exercises, but it’s worth putting in the time to find them as it will help prevent injuries.
What if I have no idea what I’m doing?
It is completely okay if you have no idea what to do at the gym at first. That’s normal. Most people will never know what every single piece of equipment in the gym does… you’re not alone here!
Remember, when you start, keep it simple: you don’t yet need to worry about metabolic conditioning or hypertrophy training, or that you don’t even know what a deadlift is much less how to do one.
On that first day in the gym and in the weeks that follow, it’s only important that you show up — then keep showing up. This is where an initial PT session or gym induction would come in handy to give you really simple instructions to follow.
As time goes on, you’ll pick up any necessary lingo and find your training plans become much more elaborate than you ever expected.
Are people going to judge me?
This is the number one concern newbies have about going to the gym, and it’s reasonable to feel that way and it will initially feel like a very foreign environment. But the answer is, no! People are too concerned about their gains and trying to squeeze in as much work as they can, in the short time they’ve managed to get to the gym, to be looking at you.
Once you’ve started to regularly see the same faces, you will also find staff a lot less intimidating than expected. Just because they might look macho, doesn’t mean they’re not real people whose actual job is to help you! If there’s any jargon or equipment that’s got you confused, ask a staff member. They’ll be delighted to arm you with the right information, it will make a welcome change from the many members who blag it and perform exercises in all kinds of interesting and unconventional ways!
Finally, pack your first gym bag like a pro with our list of essentials:
- Sweat towel
- Locker padlock (not every gym needs them so check before)
- Refillable water bottle
- Phone sports armband if you like to listen to music
- Sports socks
- Change of clothes
- Waterproof kit bag for sweaty clothes (trust us you’ll appreciate this one)