Nervous about joining a gym for the first time? Let us help!

Nervous about joining a gym for the first time? Let us help!

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Many of my clients understand the importance and benefits associated with exercise. However, a number of them also struggle to know where to begin! Many of them contemplate going to their local gym to start exercising, but are too nervous about the process to even commence. I certianly appreciate that going to the gym is by no means the only way to exercise, however it can be a good place to start. 

I haven't come across too many people who have felt confident about going to the gym for the first time. The truth is going to the gym for the first time can be nerve-racking and just downright scary. Entering a new environment, exercising with others around you, not knowing what to do or where to start are common concerns my clients have previously shared with me.

I remember my first time going to the gym, signing up and being shown around by the trainer. Feeling very self-conscious and embarrassed (chiefly about not looking absolutely ridiculous), I pretended to understand what the trainer was talking about as he showed me around the gym. He pointed to a bunch of exercise machines that looked more like factory machinery than things to exercise on, and I pretended to know exactly what they were. Once he had finished the tour and left me by myself I had no idea what to do nor where nor how to start. All I can say is thank goodness for a phone and the internet.

Here are some tips to lessen your anxiety about going to the gym for the first time.

Which gym to go to?

    • I suggest doing some research online – what type of gym are you looking for? Would you rather do some group classes or exercise alone? Does a gym that is open 24 hours appeal to you? Do you want a gym that is for females only? A huge range of gyms exist these days, one for almost every preference!  Do a search for the gyms around your home and/or work – the closer your gym is to your daily life the easier it is to build into your routine.

    • I recommend heading into the gym and actually checking it out before you sign up.  Nearly all gyms will allow you to a free visit and potentially a free weekly pass. Through the use of google /google maps you can also view the quietest and busiest times of the gym. It may be helpful for your first time to find a quieter time to go and explore the gym.

Once you have decided which gym to go to, the next question is what should I take with me and what can I wear?

    • Bring a water bottle (with water inside it), towel and maybe ear phones with your favourite music on your i-pod /iphone. Listening to your favourite music or podcast might help you to relax and enjoy your session that bit more!

    • Wear comfortable clothes (not close fitting) that you feel ok in and some joggers.

When should I start?

    • On day one, once you get through the paper work, it is common that a trainer will show you around the gym. My biggest piece of advice is ask questions, and if you want some demonstrations, just ask. Come ready and dressed to exercise because if you exercise on day one then you have skipped the hardest step of starting to exercise.

    • Some gyms will give you a free personal training session, and I recommend you use it! If you are worried about being pushed too hard, speak to your physio/EP beforehand about writing a note or some recommendations that you can take with you. We should all be keen to work together to help you achieve your health add fitness aims.

Some tips for gym etiquette

    • Wipe down equipment after use with anti-septic wipes available at the gym or just use your towel.

    • Return weights to their correct positions once you are finished using them.

    • Be mindful of queues forming if it is a peak time. Some machines may even have time limits during different time periods. 

Where to start?

    • Go gently with yourself. Build up slowly. Read Paul's previous blog for some great tips on getting started if you are completely new to exercise.  Don’t feel the need to do everything on day one. If you have no idea where to start, then I suggest sticking to the cardio equipment (bike, treadmill, elliptical) initially.  You could start with something simple like 5 minutes of each. What we do suggest though, is working with someone to help give you some guidance as to what to do. Although there are so many options, not all machines might be suitable or safe for you. So work with your EP, Physiotherapist or a Personal Trainer to help build you a suitable program which is tailored to your needs.

What to expect afterwards

    • If you are completely new to exercise,  you might pull up a little sore both the next day and the day after (this is normal). Rest assured that this soreness typically passes  and is a sign that you used your muscles! The more regularly you train your body the quicker it will adapt and this soreness will get less and less each time. Again, working with a professional will help you exercise at the right intensity and also that you are performing the exercises correctly.

So I hope some of the tips above are useful. We all appreciate that starting anything new can be daunting at first, but we are keen to help our clients achieve great health habits, and a gym might just be part of that equation! Remember, the most important thing with exercise is try to make it enjoyable, so whether your routine involves training with friends, listening to good music, or attending gym classes, we recommend working with a health professional to help you find the right balance and mix of activities that will help you achieve your goals. We wish you the best of luck if you do start attending a gym, and our team of Physio's and EP's are always here to help if you have any questions or would like some further guidance.


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