Did you ever walk into a new gym and feel like a stranger in a strange land? That’s what happens to me any time I join a new one. I look around and feel lost. Where are the free weights located? Is there an area for stretching? What is that newfangled machine over there and how do I use it? Help!
That sort of new-gym phobia turns off many a prospective exerciser, especially those who are already hesitant about working out in public or wearing Spandex clothing that shows every bump (does Spanx design exercise wear yet?).
But do not let that initial intimidation stop you from starting an exercise program or joining a new gym. You will soon feel at home in your new surroundings – it just takes a little time, and some help from the staff.
· Take the Tour. Most gyms will give you a free tour or orientation when you join. A staff member will usually be happy to show you how the equipment works, and tell you about the classes and other amenities available. Some, including mine, even give you one free session with a personal trainer. Of course, they’re hoping you’ll book a package with that trainer – and if you can afford it and enjoy the session, that’s not a bad idea – but you can also use that time to pick the trainer’s brain. Ask them to help you reevaluate your current exercise routine and set some new goals.
· Ask Questions. No gym wants you to use their equipment incorrectly, so they are usually willing to spend some time explaining how things work. Don’t be afraid to ask. For example, if you’re unsure about your technique on a given machine, you can usually stop a trainer and ask him or her if you’re using it correctly. (If they’re not willing to help, this may not be the right gym for you).
· Pick Your Moment. While you’re getting the lay of the land, and if your schedule allows it, try going when the gym is least crowded. You can ask at the front desk when that is; perhaps in midafternoon, or late evening once the after-work crowd disperses. If there isn’t a line waiting to use a machine, you’ll feel more comfortable getting used to it.
· Safety in Numbers. One reliable way to increase your comfort level is to go with a friend. It’s always easier to check out a new place with a wingman or woman at your side, and as a bonus, a friend can help motivate you to stick to your workout routine. Research has even shown that people exercising with friends produce more endorphins than those going it alone.
In a matter of weeks, you’ll be comfortable in your new gym and feel like an old pro, ready to give tips to the next newbie who comes through the doors.
Check out this webmd.com article on common gym mistakes to make sure you are getting the most out of your workout. After all, if you’re going to put in the time, you want it to pay off.