{mosimage}So, you finally joined a gym, paid the membership fee, and even bought one of their “workout” shirts. Now what? After the initial feel-good thoughts of belonging to a health club fade, where do you start and more importantly at the starting-out stage, how do you fit in? Here are a few tips to help you get on your way.

First off, go to the gym again and get a feel for it before you go for your first workout. Get to know the place so you can walk around like one of the “regulars.” Find out where everything is and how the facility is laid out. Where’s the water fountain? Restrooms? What services are offered to help you get started? Two of the biggest questions to answer are, “When is the gym crowded?” and “What are the hours of the day care?”

Be sure that the clothes you have for the gym are appropriate. Always wear athletic shoes č not sandals or flip flops. While athletic shoes won’t protect your toe from a dropped weight, it will give you good support and some level of protection. Next, make sure that your clothes are clean, fit you and cover what needs covered. A lot of times, people will lay on a bench or the floor to do an exercise, and their shorts are so loose that they show everyone more than they need to see. For women, a good support top is essential too.

Next, be honest and ask yourself if you know what you’re doing. One of the best things to do if you are unsure about the equipment or how to get started is to enlist the services of a professional trainer. Many clubs offer floor staff or staff trainers, these are not the same. A personal trainer should be truly interested in helping familiarize you to the club and getting you started on the best program for where you are at. If they try to “hard-sell” you a year of training and you’ve either never worked out before or had a trainer before... run! All they are going to do is take your money and leave you with a bad experience. Truly though, getting a trainer for a few sessions can save you months or years of wasted time and energy.

OK, you’re on the right track to fitness and have been showing up regularly č congratulations! Now, as you start to get into the routine, do yourself a favor and, bring a towel. Yes, a towel; a lot of people do not wipe off the piece of equipment they were using and you don’t need to put your head on a big wet patch of sweat. Enough said.

When you’re working out and someone is on the equipment you need, don’t simply walk away or feel intimidated. Simply wait until they’re finished with their set and ask if you can “work in” with them. It’s that simple. Most people will let someone work in with them between sets, and the ones who don’t, you don’t want to be around anyway.

Lastly, and most embarrassingly, be keenly aware of personal hygiene. While it may sound funny or like common sense, that can be one of the most embarrassing moments for everyone involved. Always wear clean clothes and use deodorant when you get ready to work out č some gyms even have complimentary toiletries to use. Use them.

There you are, some simple tips to make your gym experience a little more pleasurable and comfortable. While they won’t help you lose 10 pounds or build bigger biceps, it will give you a sense of confidence so that when you do go to the gym, you “look” like one of the regulars. 

Now, the rest is up to you.

E-mail your questions to John Velandra at: john@designsinfitness.net. Or call him at (910) 306-3142. John is a certified personal trainer and the owner of CrossFit Cape Fear and Designs In Fitness Personal Training Services in Fayetteville.

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