First time gym-goer – here’s what you need to know

If you’ve never belonged to a gym before, and aren’t used to training or working out alongside other people, then gyms can be daunting and intimidating. For starters, the exercise machines often look like they belong in a spaceship, and added to that, there’s generally a queue of people waiting to use them – so the pressures on for you to know what you’re doing and more importantly – how those machines actually work.

When you first join, ask for an orientation of the facilities (if they don’t already offer to show you around). This way you get to see exactly what’s available, where you can find everything (sometimes the sauna is harder to find than you think!), and which machines or areas of the gym are used the most. If you’re interested, be sure to ask about what studio classes are available and at what times, so you can be sure to get to the gym with ample time to spare. There is nothing worse than getting to a gym class you’ve been looking forward to all day only to find that it’s already full.

When it comes to the ‘correct’ gym attire don’t worry too much about what you’re wearing, be happy with the fact that you’ve made it to the gym in the first place. When you first start working out, all you really need are a decent pair of cross trainers, comfortable shorts or leggings and a few appropriate t-shirts. Once you’ve worked out a routine, and which studio classes you want to join you can start looking at workout clothing that’s more appropriate for the exercise you want to do.

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Always consider ‘gym etiquette’, most of which is pretty obvious: no one likes a person who hogs the popular machines for longer than necessary, stays in the shower for 30 minutes at a time when there are others waiting to use it, inappropriately prances around the cloakroom or talks too loudly on their phone. Basically, it comes down to respecting other people’s space, time and reason for being there.

Finally, if you’re not sure about how something works, don’t be shy or feel stupid about asking for assistance, that’s largely what the gym staff is there to do. Of course, you can always ask a friendly fellow gym goer for a few pointers – you never know – you may just meet your next gym buddy!

Really, when it comes down to it, everyone has to start somewhere, and those people who look as though they live at the gym and are part of the furniture? They were also once in your position. So don’t worry, after a few weeks you’ll be feeling much more comfortable and confident about your decision to join the gym.