Dear New Gym Goer,
First of all, let me welcome you to the wonderful world of exercise again. It feels good, doesn’t it? No? Well, the first day week month is rough, but if you stick with it, I promise you will be addicted like I am. If you are a first time member of Planet Fitness, welcome! It’s a great deal (10 bucks a month) for a nice clean gym with shiny new machines, isn’t it? Please eat all the free pizza you want on pizza night every first Monday of the month, because that shit is nasty and I don’t like smelling it when I’m working out. I mean seriously? Who thought up the idea of tempting people who trying to get fit with fattening food AT THE GYM? The sacredest of holy-health places? I mean, your second Tuesday bagel morning at least sounds healthy (though you are actually better off choking down a small slice or 2 of pizza calorie-wise). The smell of pizza and sweat together is just disgusting.
Woah, I really got off topic there! Sorry, new gym goer, I’ll try to stay on the subject. If you have had a membership already, well, let me thank you for keeping the gym open by paying for it, and also not crowded by just staying home and eating pot pies instead of taking up a machine. Just kiddin’. Sorta. I am totally conflicted here, while it warms the cockles of my heart to see all these new people taking their first step into the world of fitness, I also would like there to be less lines for the assisted pullup/dip machine. Oh well, I guess I can work on my pushups instead in January, there is plenty of floor space!
Here’s some advice on how to make the most out of your workout time and make the gym a pleasant place for everyone:
- Start slow. Maybe two months ago or two years ago you were able to run 5 miles at a 7 minute per mile pace. Nothing was ever lost by taking your first workout too easy, but many a fitness endeavour was squashed by going out too hard, getting too sore, and giving up.
- Come up with a defined workout plan, but be flexible. Decide you are going to do some form of cardio 20 minutes, 3 time per week, and do strength training for 15 minutes, 2-3 time per week (or whatever schedule floats your boat). That way, you have a plan so you don’t go into the gym and get overwhelmed by all the machines, but you don’t have to throw a fit if all the arc trainers are taken.
- Don’t be rude. This includes your body as well as your actions. If you are a stinkypuss, shower before the gym. Use deoderant. Do NOT use ridiculous amounts of cologne or perfume. With your actions, use common sense. If there is a line for equipment, do what you need to do and get off it. A short rest in between sets is permissable, but sitting and talking on your cell is just reprehensible. Don’t spend an hour and a half on the treadmill if you’ve got people waiting. Don’t stare at other people in the gym, even if they’re just plain interesting. Do what the rest of us do and sneak glances at them. See the three mats for stretching? Take up one, not all 3 lengthwise.
- Spend the money on some proper workout clothes. An old t-shirt and sweatpants is totally appropriate if you have nothing else. Things I saw at the gym yesterday: a girl running in a dress and tights, a guy wearing a pair of dockers and a polo shirt, and a woman in a plastic bag looking shirt (which I think was on an infomercial touting its ability to make you lose more weight – what they didn’t mention is that it’s just water weight from making yourself so hot you want to pass out). You can pick up something respectable from the thrift store for less than 10 bucks or from Target for less than 20. Just do it, though you don’t have to be decked out in brand name gear…
- Try new things. Don’t let any of the machines scare you. Give it a chance to get used to it. Don’t get on the arc trainer and get off a minute later, give it at least 10 minutes! There is a free group class offered quite frequently that shows you how to use them, do take it. Don’t be like me and spend your first month doing lat raises and the glute machine the wrong way and wondering why it was so uncomfortable.
- Don’t work the same muscles 2 days in a row. Do arms one day, legs the next. If you’re running fast one day, jog the next or use another machine. Too much without proper rest is just asking for at best, lack of progress, and at worst, injury. Rest is an integral part of getting stronger.
- 7-9am and 5-7pm are the busy times. If you can, work out at a different time, it will be easier on you and on us poor normal-business-hour-working schmucks like me that HAVE to work out then.
- Don’t give up. It gets rough. I’ve been working out consistently now for almost 17 months now and there are still days I don’t wanna work out or I can’t complete my session the way I wanted to or I even just skip a day because I’m too sore, pooped, or whatever. Don’t aim for perfection, just aim for progress. Sure, one day you might have to stop at 1 mile instead of 1.5 you did the day before, but if you keep at it, you’ll be doing 2 miles before you know it. If you get frustrated and give up, you’ll do no miles.
- Do what YOU can do. Don’t focus on me on the treadmill next to you, killing myself with interval stupidity. It’s taken me 17 months to be able to do that. When I started, I could barely walk a mile. If you take no other advice, take this – just start where you’re just a little (tolerably) uncomfortable and work up from there. You, the girl who took 25 minutes to walk a mile on the treadmill in front of me and got off and looked disgusted with her self, I’m talking right to you. I really hope I see you back again and you see that with some time, you’ll be going much faster very soon!
If you heed some of my advice, maybe a lot of you will make it to February. Maybe some will even make it all year. While it’s nice to have my run of the place, it gets lonely in November and December when everyone is eating Christmas Candy and sitting on their asses. Good luck, and may this be the first of many of your sweaty days!
Quix (the crazy, sweat-stained girl on the treadmill next to you)