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Gym 101: Where to Start?

Congratulations! You’ve already taken one step towards becoming a better, healthier version of yourself. If you haven’t actually gotten off your couch yet, it’s alright. Deciding to go to the gym is already progress because realizing that you need to change your lifestyle means accepting that it could improve!

A woman in red and gray sportswear tying her shoelace getting ready to go to the gym.

So, you’re probably wondering, “What should I do? Where do I start?” along with a lot of other questions. There are a lot of things to consider, like which gym to go to, whether you should get a trainer or not, or what workout is best for you, so let’s go over the basics from preparation to execution.

First of all, determine why you’re going to the gym. Is it because you want to live a more active lifestyle to maintain or lose a few pounds? Or is it because your family and friends are telling you to? Acknowledge the reason why and keep in mind that going to the gym will seem like a breeze at first, but staying and pushing yourself will be more difficult, especially if you’re not motivated by your own intentions.

Now that you know why you’re going to the gym, set a SMART goal for yourself. It should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. Here’s an example: I want to lose 10 pounds (specifically) in a month (time-bound) by going to the gym at least 4 times a week and focusing on a mixture of cardio exercises and strength training (attainable). Being able to keep track of your weight and the days you’ve been working out makes it measurable, and doing it for your benefit makes it relevant. You get the picture.

Since you’ve made your goal clear, educate yourself on what you want to focus on. Research different exercises and techniques depending on your goal. Also, try to understand how the human body works so you have a good grasp on what you’re actually “doing” to it and what the effects are.

Once you’re done studying, it’s time to start looking for potential gyms around your area if you haven’t decided on one yet. Try to find a few options and ask questions such as how long the membership would last and how much it would be, what is included with the membership, and if they offer trainers, because another thing you have to consider is if you want to try working out with one.

If the gym you’re eyeing offers it, try to ask if they’d let you have a complimentary session with the trainer. You need to find out if that trainer’s right for you or not before spending big money on them. Another thing you have to consider is the peak hour, so don’t forget to raise this concern while you’re searching for options.

As you’re looking for a place, also try to invest slowly in workout clothes. Get yourself a new pair of shoes just for the gym, or a few colorful sports bras and tank tops, along with a few pairs of comfortable shorts and pants. Your outfit contributes to your confidence, so not only will you look good, but you’ll feel good about yourself too. Plus, you’ll be more comfortable and safer in proper clothes than in your day-to-day mall clothes.

So, you’ve got your mind set on a gym and your clothes ready, but don’t get too excited just yet. Before you actually start, lay out your schedule first. You probably have a job or other errands you need to attend to, so you have to religiously set aside an hour or two just for gym time.

First answer the question, “How often should I go to the gym in a week?” Once you’ve got that figured out, try to insert your gym time during the slow hours, not the peak. If peak hours unfortunately fall during your free time, then it may be something to consider.

Working out at an empty gym will make a huge difference, so don’t disregard this factor. Make sure to commit to the schedule you’ve set for yourself, and as much as possible, treat the gym as if it’s part of your job and learn to persevere.

Now it’s time to get going and get sweating! It’s your first day, and you may be a bit intimidated by other gymgoers, but don’t panic. Just try to get the feel of the environment and let yourself become comfortable. Also, try to be aware of the basic dos and don’ts at the gym, just to avoid getting into trouble. Do your own thing and make the most of your time there.

As you head over to the gym regularly, try to keep track of your workouts as much as possible. Record your exercises, and don’t be afraid to explore different ones to see which works best for you. When you’ve decided to stick to a workout, create habits and get your rhythm going. It’ll get much easier as you keep coming back to the gym and adapting to your routine.

And that’s it—you're all set. Always keep your goal in mind and remind yourself every day why you went in the first place. There will be off days, but don’t be too hard on yourself. Just remember where and how you started, from reading this article to going to the gym, and you’ll be surprised at how far you’ve come.

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