A Beginner's Guide to the Gym
Have you ever walked into an unknown environment and felt out of your depth?
When you walk into the gym for the first time, there will be many thoughts that may go through your mind...
Am I dressed appropriately?
Where do I start?
Joining a Health Club will often be the start of a healthier lifestyle. To answer some of your questions and to make getting started easier, here are a few tips to help make your initial (and ongoing experience) one that you will enjoy.
When you join a health club you will usually receive a tour of the club, the tour will include:
Group Fitness studios
Other facilities and services such as swimming pool, sauna etc
Upon purchase of your membership, you will be offered the opportunity to participate in small group functional training sessions. Because you are guaranteed of no more than 6 people maximum in the group, your instructor will give you a personal guidance through these strength based exercises.
Whether you're seeing a Personal Trainer or not, we have come up with some start up advice that will help you on your journey.
What to wear:
Comfortable lightweight clothing is the key. As you burn off the calories your body temperature will increase and clothing that will allow some heat to escape is ideal.
Comfortable, well fitting, fully enclosed footwear is essential. Most types of sports shoes will be appropriate
What to pack:
In most gyms a towel is compulsory so you can wipe down the equipment after use.
A water bottle will ensure you can remain hydrated during your workout.
A spare set of clothes if you're showering at the health club.
Entering the club:
You will need to show your membership card upon entrance, it's a good idea to have this ready especially in peak times as there will be a lot of people entering the club at once. Peak times may vary from club to club, but as a general guide are typically 6am - 9am, 12pm - 1.30pm, 5pm - 8pm. Ask reception how the lockers in the changing rooms work.
The changing rooms:
Health Clubs usually encourage members to leave their belongings in lockers and not taking it onto the gym floor as it creates a potential risk in a fast paced environment. Most lockers will work on a key, lock, or membership card swipe basis. You may have to ask for a key or lock at reception and leave some form of ID if the club provides them from frontline. In some clubs you will need to bring your own padlock (not as common these days), if this is the case and you do not have one you can usually purchase at reception. In some of our newer clubs, you Membership Card also doubles as a magnetic swiper it allows you to access lockers with one easy swipe!
Cardio equipment (equipment used to increase heart rate eg treadmill, bike):
Most pieces of cardio equipment have a quick start option to make it easier to get started. Simply get on your chosen piece of equipment, start the motion then press the quick start button. From this point you can adjust resistance and speed as required. Before getting on a treadmill ensure the belt is not in motion, it can make for a painful first experience if you get on a moving treadmill without noticing. If the belt is moving hit the stop button and then begin.
Resistance Equipment (weights):
Don't try to lift or push too much in your first session. This is a common mistake by beginners and you want to make sure that you can move the next day! If you are using an intensity scale of 1 - 10 a good place to start is 5. You can increase the weights as you become more familiar with your bodies capabilities.
Time for some terminology:
Rep: Short for repetitions. One full movement on a piece of equipment.
Set: A collection of reps equals one set
If some one asks to work in' that simply means they will do a set after your set (in your rest period). Remove your towel and remember to place the weight back to the right position before beginning again.
Group Fitness (group exercise classes to music):
If there is a technique class available try and attend this first. This is particularly useful for weight based classes. Ask at reception for details and a timetable of classes for your club. Let the instructor know you are new so they can offer some good advice before the class or as it progresses. If you feel a little uncoordinated at your first class, then welcome to the club! Don't expect to pick up all the moves first time. It's the old story; a little practice goes a long way. Most classes will follow a similar routine for a few weeks so you can master the moves. Over time you will understand the basics and follow the class with ease. Try a number of classes to see where you get the most benefit and also what you most enjoy!
At the very least, stretching should be done after a workout. This will decrease the muscle soreness you may experience the following days. It also serves to keep muscles supple, assists flexibility, which then decreases the risk of future injury. Most clubs will have a stretching chart for you to follow. When holding a stretch it should be at an intensity of no more than 5 on our intensity scale of 1 - 10.
Leaving the club:
Have you got all your belongings with you? Yes? That's your first session complete. Congratulations!
Enjoy your journey to a healthier and fitter you, look to the professionals for ongoing advice
and most of all have fun.
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