Getting started at the gym can feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t need to!
With all the different machines and weights available – kettlebells, swiss balls, TRX ropes, weight bags… You’re spoilt for choice. But don’t let that put you off! By starting simple and getting a grasp of the basics first, you’ll find your gym experience much more enjoyable. And enjoyable is key, because enjoyable is what keeps you going back.
Let us walk you through what you need to know when first stepping foot in the gym.
The Gym Lingo
If you’re new to the gym scene, you might feel at times like people are speaking a different language to you! Learning just a few keywords will go a long way.
This is some of the terminology that is used when talking about the exercise dose…
- Reps / Repetitions: This is how many times the exercise is performed (e.g. 10 reps of the bicep curl exercise).
- Sets: This is how many rounds of each exercise are completed (e.g. 3 sets of 10 reps)
- Rest: This is the time interval between sets (e.g. 1 minute rest between each set of 10 bicep curls)
- Tempo: This is the pace at which the exercise is completed (e.g. 2 seconds to raise the weight, 1 second pause, 3 seconds to lower the weight, which may be written as 3:1:2).
Gym’s do come with some rules, so to keep everyone happy, make sure that you…
- Bring a sweat towel to place on the machine where you sit / lay. Because no one wants to use sweaty equipment!
- Wipe the machines, weights, and mats down after use. All gyms have disinfectant spray and wipes available to make sure you are leaving it clean.
- Put your weights away after use. This one is just general courtesy – you don’t want to have to pick up after other people, so don’t make them do it for you.
- Wear closed shoes. This is for your own safety, as well as for smell control! You don’t want that 20kg dumbbell dropped on your toes, and no one else wants the smell of sweaty socks interrupting their workout…
What to do when you get there?
We always recommend starting with a warm-up – this may be some light cardio (i.e. treadmill, bike, cross trainer, rowing machine), some stretches / mobility exercises, foam rolling, or muscle activation exercises – all intended to get you primed and ready for your workout.
The workout itself can be anywhere from 4 to 10 different exercises, depending on your goals and how much time you have available (hint – make sure it’s something that you’ll be able to stay consistent with!).
Likewise, it is best to finish with a cool down to allow your body to return to its resting state and promote recovery from the workout. Think of it like a sandwich, and the warm-up and cool-down are the slices of bread. Essential parts of a sandwich!
Stay tuned for next week’s blog where we take a deep dive into exercise prescription and guide you to designing your own workout!
Ask for help from the staff if you need it – they will be more than happy to show you through a few exercises or to correct your technique if you’re not sure.
If you’re feeling intimidated or insecure (as many people do when they’re starting out)… Trust us, no one is looking at you or thinking about what you’re doing – they are all too busy exercising and thinking about themselves!
Don’t forget to bring a water bottle. And most importantly, try to have fun!
Author: Yolanda van Vugt Clinical Exercise Physiologist and Content Creator at Specialised Health
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