10 Tips for Gym Newbies

Monday, 2 July 2018

If you've never been to the gym before, or are starting out at a new gym, it can be pretty daunting. Especially if you're not feeling particularly confident in your body and/or fitness levels, plucking up the courage to go in and ask for a membership can be hard, let alone actually venturing onto the machines or trying out the weights.

I've been to a few gyms in my life, but it's only really in the past year or so I've started to feel confident about going. Don't get me wrong, I'm definitely not confident in my body (yet), but when I go to the gym I feel comfortable in myself - I know what I'm doing, I tend not to think about what other people might think of me and I just get on with it. I always come out feeling great, so I thought it made sense to put together a little list of tips for anyone new to the gym, or anyone who's not been in a while and feels like they could do with a few pointers on getting back into it. These are by no means '"fitness" tips - more like ways of enjoying/getting the most out of your workout.

1. Have a gym induction

If you've never been to a gym before, having a gym induction is an absolute must. Most gyms will book you in for one when you sign up, but in case they don't, make sure you ask for one. It should be free as part of your membership and will basically just be an instructor showing how to use all the machines. At my gym they put together a little plan for me too, which was really helpful as I didn't have the first idea where to begin. Don't be afraid to ask any questions, that's what instructors are there for!

2. Wear something comfortable 

Okay, so this might seem glaringly obvious but feeling comfortable in what you're wearing in the gym is SO important. It's worth thinking about what you'll be doing in the gym and how what you're wearing will work with that - for example, I've bought baggy tops before, only to find them too short, so when I'm doing certain exercises they ride up and my stomach is exposed - not cool (for me, anyway. Gimme washboard abs and I'm sure I'd be fine having it all on show). The first time it happened I felt really self-conscious, uncomfortable and it completely put me off doing what I was doing. I'd recommend LONG baggy tops for the gym if, like me, you're a bit self-conscious about your tummy area. If you're going to be running on the treadmill, leggings that stay up are an absolute must. I usually rate Primark for their leggings but it's definitely worth going in and trying some on as I have had a few dud pairs that fell down as I was running. Have a little jog on the spot in the changing room and see how they fair! 

3. Create an awesome playlist

I wouldn't be able to last in the gym if it wasn't for my music. I find music motivates me SO much, and even though they play music in the gym putting my headphones on and having my own energizing playlist lets me go into my own little workout bubble and helps me to get in the zone. I have Spotify Premium and I've made myself a separate cardio playlist with lots of high-energy, fast-paced songs, and then a separate weights playlist with songs that have a bit more sass to them. I can't recommend compiling yourself a playlist enough, it definitely makes my workouts so much more enjoyable. 

4. Get some wireless headphones

So you don't necessarily need wireless headphones to have a good workout, but I do find, especially when it comes to weights, they help a lot as I don't have pockets or anywhere to put my phone and I don't want to get the wires all tangled up when I'm working out. I've tried the wireless earphones but I prefer headphones as they stay in place when I'm running. Just make sure you remember to keep them charged, as there's nothing worse than your headphones dying mid-workout!

5. Download a workout app

Again, this isn't essential, but I do find having an app to track my workouts really helps. Particularly when it comes to weights, I can never remember which weight I'm using for which machine so I use Jefit to keep track of all the different machines/free weights I use. It makes it so much easier, plus you can set it so it gives you a timer to track your rest time between sets. 

6. Get a gym buddy

Okay, so the majority of the time I go to the gym by myself but I think having a gym buddy can help so much. I've been to classes with my boyfriend before and I find it motivates me so much more and we almost get a little bit of a competition going. It's also good to have a bit of moral support, and someone to talk to between sets. If you have a friend who wants to get into the gym, take them along with you. You can support each other throughout your workouts, and if you arrange to go with the other person regularly you'll feel obligated to, so you won't chicken out of going! 

7. Invest in a fitness tracker

If you have some spare cash, I can't recommend investing in a fitness tracker enough. I wouldn't be without mine now - I don't just wear it to the gym, but wear it everyday to keep track of my steps and exercise. I have a Fitbit Alta HR* and I love it so much - it tracks my heart-rate, my steps, how much exercise I do, even my sleep. I've had a heart-rate monitor before but I had to use a separate strap every time I worked out which I found a bit of a faff, whereas this one the heart-rate monitor is built-in. You can set exercise and step goals on it, it tells you how many calories you've burned and when you work out you can see which zone your heart-rate is in. I honestly wouldn't be without mine now! 

8. Try some classes and find one that's right for you

Whilst going to a class on your own can be daunting at first, so many people do it, no one judges and it's a great way to meet new people. I regularly go to a spin class and absolutely love it as the instructor makes it so fun, but I've tried other classes that I've not loved so much - I really struggled with pilates (whereas I love doing Blogilates at home). There are so many fun classes out there now that it's definitely worth heading to a few and seeing what works for you - I'm all about the fun ones where the time flies by (Zumba and Clubbercise are great for this!)

9. Take your makeup off

Obviously, not everyone is comfortable in their own skin (trust me, I've been there) but I've trained in makeup before and find it really does my skin no good at all. When you're in the gym you might feel like everyone is looking at you but they're really not - they're focusing on their own thing. I wear heavy foundation during the day so when I get in I take it all straight off before hitting the gym - I sweat A LOT when I train so I know I'll end up with makeup dripping off my face if I don't. Of course, I totally get it if you want to keep it on - just maybe opt for mineral makeup or something lighter so that your skin can breathe a bit while you train too. 

10. Enjoy it!

Finally, enjoy it! Starting the gym can be daunting and even when you've been going a while finding the motivation to go can be really hard. Stick with it though and you'll find you'll really start to enjoy it - I love the buzz I get from working out. I can have a really bad day, head to the gym and suddenly my mood is totally changed. Try not to watch the clock when you're there and instead just enjoy pushing yourself and seeing what your body can do - it's amazing how quickly your body adapts and you'll find it so much easier as time goes on. 

Bonus tip: ALWAYS take water with you. I've forgotten my water bottle on a couple of occasions and it is the worst. Stay hydrated kids! 

Do you regularly go to the gym? Let me know if you have any tips of your own to add!