Another holiday season has come and gone, it’s a New Year and time for a New You! Time to set and reach your fitness goals. Eat healthier, exercise more, maybe join a gym…
Congratulations, you’ve taken that first step toward your health and fitness goals and signed up at your local gym, but now what? What should you do (or not do) on that first day at the gym to ensure that there’s a second and third day?
How To Master Your First Day At The Gym
Find a gym near you and then use these 7 tips to master your first day at the gym:
1. Follow Through
First on the list, don’t be one of the many people who get excited at the beginning of the new year, sign up for a new gym membership and never go.
Make a commitment, get your butt off the couch, get over the fear or intimidation and GO! Make your first day at the gym memorable, so you’ll want to come back the next day.
2. Don’t Skip The Warm-up
Get in the habit of warming up before your workout. According to Active.com, your warm-up serves two major purposes, “to enhance performance and prevent injury… a warm-up is both physical and mental.”
Find an out of the way corner in the gym away from the bulk of the equipment and spend at least 5 minutes stretching. Do this from the first day at the gym.
You can also perform some bodyweight exercises to increase the blood flow to your muscles and alert your brain that you are about to get serious in the gym.
As you perform your jumping jacks, pushups, and active stretches, take this time to observe your fellow fitness fanatics. How are they using this or that piece of equipment?
Find the folks who appear to be serious about their training and observe.
3. Do A Little Of Everything
Your body will require time to adjust to all of this new activity, you WILL be sore in the early stages. The HumanFitProject suggests performing a wide variety of exercises and a complete full-body workout.
Don’t be that guy that only does bench presses and curls and never trains any muscles below the waist.
4. Don’t Overtrain
Or, as The Active Times puts it, “don’t try to lose 10 pounds on your first day at the gym!”
Many new trainees are fired up, excited about working out and do too much, too quickly. They are so sore the next day that they swear off exercise in the same way you swear off alcohol when you have a hangover.
Spending 2, 3 or 4 hours in the gym is too much of a good thing and you will soon burn out. You should be able to complete a full-body workout in under one hour, and any type of fitness class will last about 45 minutes to one hour.
Focus, train, complete your workout and go home and rest, refuel and recover.
5. Refuel And Rehydrate
Arrive at the gym hydrated and stay hydrated while you exercise.
You will sweat. If you don’t, you need to step up the intensity of your training. Just stay hydrated and provide the fluids your body needs to cool down and flush toxins.
If you carry a water bottle, use one that is small enough to easily fit in your hand. Don’t be the guy with a gallon jug in each hand. And please be considerate of others who need a drink if you refill your water bottle at the drinking fountain.
Eat a small meal or snack about one hour before you head to the gym. Include a lean protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fatty acids to fuel your metabolism and your workout. Avoid pre-workout meals that are loaded with fats and sugars – you’ll crash.
If possible, have a healthy smoothie or small balanced meal 30-60 minutes after your workout. Add a lean protein source or a scoop of protein powder to feed that new muscle and some complex carbs to replace the stored energy you burned working out.
6. Learn And Practice Gym Etiquette
A gym is a community, it has its own set of simple rules that should be followed by all. If you sweat all over a piece of equipment, clean it up. When you use a pair of dumbbells, put them back (rack them) when you’re done with them.
If you’re in the gym to “hook up”, do it away from the people who are serious about working out – they’re easy to spot, they have earbuds in and never take them out.
Learn the “rules” and practice them from the first day at the gym.
Also, check out these 10 commandments of gym etiquette to get a better idea of what I’m talking about.
7. Ask For Help
This tip is from Men’s Fitness magazine – don’t be afraid to ask for help.
If you have a question about an exercise or a particular piece of equipment, don’t hesitate to ask a trainer or a staff member for a demonstration. They’re there to help.
Study the equipment available in your gym, they are the tools you will use to build your new body. For an overview of gym equipment and how to use it, check out this gym equipment guide.
Do some research online or in the library. Study exercises suitable for beginners, workouts that will help you reach your fitness goals.
Warning: do not try to follow the training programs of your favorite bodybuilders or athletes, they have been training for years – you’re on the first day at the gym.