Tackling a New Gym

This post was inspired by my workout yesterday. I belong to a chain gym, so normally I go to one right by work. But on the weekends its pretty out-of-the-way. I was planning on biking, but decided against it after the heat warning (109 ?!) on Saturday. Needless to say, I decided to head over to another branch of the gym closer to my house that I have only been to once or twice.

But before I left, I whipped up a smoothie with frozen strawberries and bananas, chocolate protein, and almond milk.

At least my drink was cold!


Before college, I had never been to a gym. Between soccer and lacrosse and swimming, I always had a team to keep me in shape. Workouts were fun and I never had to plan. If the coach said to jog 2 laps, that’s what I did. My family was very active and we often hiked or played disc golf (Kinda like golf with frisbees. And you play in the woods without fancy polo shirts) on the weekend. In the off seasons I casually jogged around my neighborhood when the mood struck me.


Fast forward to the end of freshman year of college. The freshman 15 had struck. I was working at home at a summer camp and I decided to take a big step and (gasp) join a gym. I was clueless for the first few weeks. I would wander in and hop from cardio machine to cardio machine. But over time I become more comfortable and began taking classes and using weight machines. It wasn’t for a few more years that I tackled the free weights.

I have put together the following tips for tackling a gym for the first time.

1. Ask for a tour. Often times gyms will do this regardless for all new members. But if not, ask. This will give you a good idea of the layout of the gym without wandering around aimlessly yourself. The gym staff will often ask what you are interested in gaining from your

gym membership. If you are curious about weights but have never actually tried, now is your chance to ask! He/she may even show you a few tips or techniques.

2. If available, take advance of a free introductory training session. Many gyms offer a training session for all new members. I have belonged to several gyms over the years and I always take advantage of this if I can. In the session, you should be led through a variety of sample weight and cardio exercises. The trainer should help you select the right amount of weight for you and demonstrate proper form for the different exercises. If you like your first session you will often be offered a discount on future sessions, however, DON’T feel pressured into signing up for a series of personal training sessions after your free one.

3. Take a class! This is the easiest way to pick up new workout moves in a less threatening atmosphere. Try to talk to the instructor before the class to let him/her know that you have never taken the class before. They will be able to offer you tips and suggestions about taking the class for the first time. Don’t copy what your neighbor is doing. Pay attention to your body the first time you take the class to figure out what moves or weights are right for you.

4. Observe! If there are cardio machines overlooking the free weight or weight machine areas, jump on one and pay attention. After watching several people do the same exercise, you will have a better idea about how it is performed.

5. Tackle a small area at a time. All gyms are set up differently. If you come in with a workout you planned ahead of time, you may not be able to find all of the equipment you are looking for.

This was the technique I used on Sunday. There were several weight machines all clustered in one area. So rather than wander all over the gym, I did a small circuit of all of the machines. Below is my workout. I did 3 rounds of all of the machines, 15 reps at each.

-Leg extension

-Seated leg curl

-Overhead press

Preacher curl

-Lat pulldown

-Leg press

-Incline crunch (not a machine, just a bench that was next to the leg press machine)

Question: What techniques to you use when you go to a new gym?

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  1. Very Berry Stuffed French Toast « Biking Before Bed - September 9, 2011

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