Quite often when you join a new gym, they offer you a free mini-workout with a fitness instructor. [Personal opinion disclaimer: these are normally pretty poor, people don’t realise they are not qualified personal trainers!] Usually this session will consist on putting together a very uninspiring, simple but safe programme that you can then follow on your own in the coming weeks. They show you the exercises, write down the program, and then say thanks and enjoy! Normally, when you return to the gym in the next few days you take out your program and stare at it in bewilderment having totally forgotten everything the fitness instructor showed you! You might look at the words on the paper and wander whether ‘gym’ is a foreign language that you just didn’t learn, …and then vaguely remember the phrase “squat using a swiss ball whist holding 5kg dumbbells in each hand” (WTF?!) that you think the fitness instructor suggested when you were distracted by “gosh these gym mirrors are unflattering” or “omg look at the muscles over there”! Hahaha we have all been there don’t worry! At this point your heart and enthusiasm will in be your trainers and you will want to give up! Please DON’T!
My first piece of advice for when you join a gym is to attend some classes! Yeah! Classes are fun! Fun! Fun! If you are glaring at me right now please hear me out! When did you last try a class? Never? 10 years ago? Things have changed guys! Think how much other industries have changed in the last decade – fitness classes haven’t stood still you know, there is the most awesome range of SUPERB classes whatever you’re into! You just have to find the right class for you… never be intimidated to attend a class, they are all aimed at beginners unless they state ‘Advanced’ which i don’t think any class in the country does now, as we want classes to be inviting for everyone. Because they really are for everyone.
Start with a aqua class if you’re happy in the water. Yes guys you can attend aqua too!
The next most simple class is a circuit style class or a cycle spin class; when it’s your first class always arrive 5-10mins early and let the instructor know that you are new, they like a bit of warning so that they can look after you and help you set your bike up and even demo some basic moves. If you’re new and arrive late to the class, the instructor may give off some Pink “I hate you so much right now” vibes, as you will be messing with the flow of their class, they need to set you up and look after you whilst the rest of the regulars are waiting to get cracking – so don’t do it!
These classes are quite straight forward, and you can kinda of pull back and catch your breath when you need to. The music and the inspiring instructor will carry you through the tough bits and there is no thinking involved – just turn up, give full control to the class and then leave feeling elated – it may have felt like torture at the time but now that you have just moved your arse around for 45mins you are feeling GOOD – woohoo! You did it, yay for you!
In the next week or two you want to start getting a little braver… start trying classes that initially sound scary to you; this is all part of your own induction into the gym world, the more you know, the less fear everything holds – so even if there are classes where you feel like an utter plonker, doing it (and surviving it!) is all part of your journey… suck it up, laugh at yourself and dig your heart and soul – not just your body – in to the gym life.
In week 4 visit a personal trainer. Personal trainers are always looking for new clients, so don’t be afraid if you see one of them to ask for some advice and see if you think you’d work well with them. There is one rule: don’t walk up to them whilst they are with a client, that’s not nice for the client paying money for their 1-to-1 time, just wait until you see them on their own. Or you could always enquire at the personal training office if they have one, or just ask at the gym reception. Like I said, personal trainers are always hunting for fresh prey (not to scare you ha) but you are a personal trainer’s dinner (i am scaring you now aren’t I?!). What I mean is that they are freelance so they want new clients so that they can earn money to buy their dinner! They have the skills you need to get the very best out of your fitness regime and to keep you wanting (& loving) to use your new gym membership. You want to tell your trainer that you’d like 2 sessions a week for 4 weeks only. This is helpful as it provides a clear schedule for them and is important for you to know you’re not going to be spending endlessly too! Be clear with them as to your goals in these 4 weeks – tell them you want to learn 1 or 2 programs that you can confidently and correctly do by yourself and that you’ll be able to adapt as you get stronger/fitter. Your goal is to learn how to work out by yourself in the gym. The trainer may try to convince you to see them for the rest of your life but say you only need their services for 4 weeks and that after this you’d like to fly solo for a while! Obviously if you find further down the line that you want to learn some more then you may wish to rebook some further sessions with them. Personal training prices range from £30-£120 per hour so you may need to save some money, but it will totally be worth it, as being confident in how to train your body is a life skill everyone simply should have.
Your personal training program should include a little cardio – 20 mins on a rower, treadmill cross trainer, skipping or boxing on a bag; it should include some squats and lat pull downs for your lower and upper body; you want some mid-section work for your abs; plus you want a few varieties of these programs so that you don’t get bored! After 4 weeks (and in total 6 weeks since you started this process), you should have found a few classes you like to attend each week and also now know how to train yourself at the gym – now that’s a great place to be!
All you gotta do now is just keep on turning up and doing your gym-thing!