The first time you step foot into a gym, it’s normal to feel a bit anxious. The equipment can look daunting, and your fellow gym-goers can appear like they’ve been running marathons since age 2.
Good news: Gym rats come in all shapes, sizes, and experience levels. (You might even find someone that started just one day before you.) Besides, anyone who looks like professional weightlifter did not start that way, and they’ll totally understand if you reach for the 2.5-pound dumbbells.
We all know this, yet most gym newbies still get a little self-conscious when they enter the fitness center. To make the transition a little easier, certified fitness trainer Jason Schaeffer has three helpful tips to help beginners navigate their first time at the gym.
First of all, don’t be ashamed to ask how to use a piece of equipment. Many gyms have signs near the equipment that shows how to use it, but if this confuses you, it’s totally normal (and encouraged) to ask an employee for guidance. Even gym veterans try new equipment from time to time and have to ask their trainers how it works, so it’s not a big deal. Ultimately, nobody wants to see you get hurt from using the equipment incorrectly, so ask away.
Second, respect people’s time. If the equipment you want to use is taken, wait your turn by using another machine or walking on the treadmill to stay active. (You’ll make your fellow gym members pretty annoyed if you linger by their machine and sigh impatiently.) If you’re going to take a class, be on time. Your late entrance might disrupt the class if everyone has to shift around to make room for you. This is especially frustrating for classes like yoga, which sometimes begin with some calming meditation.
Finally, practice good hygiene. Most gyms have signs everywhere to remind you, but it’s crucial to spray and wipe down equipment after you use it. (FYI, here’s all the unexpected places to find germs at the gym.) Clean off any part of the equipment your body touched while you used it, including buttons or screens that your fingers touched. If you’re a sweaty person (no shame in that!), consider bringing a towel to pat yourself dry occasionally (the gym might even provide some for you).
If you’re unsure of how to spend your first day at the gym, try this trainer-approved workout that’s perfect for beginners.