Swanky gym kit? Check. Banging playlist? Check. Shiny new gym membership? Check. You’re officially ready to become the fittest, best version of you – but where to actually start?
If you’re nervous about setting foot in the gym because you feel like you don’t know what you’re doing (along with 55% of gym-going Brits FYI), then you’re clearly not alone – and we’ve got your back.
Read on for our top tips on starting, maintaining and smashing that killer gym routine, because summer…
Have a goal in mind
Do you want to lose weight? Gain muscle? Complete a triathlon? Different goals require different types of training, so it’s best to have one in mind before you set foot in the gym. That way, you can really focus on achieving it.
Take advantage of your induction
We know it’s tempting to skip the induction and go straight into firing on all cylinders at the gym, but this is free, one on one time with a personal trainer that you may not get the chance to have again, so why wouldn’t you make the most of it?
Explain your goals and reasons for joining and they can help you decipher the types of exercises/classes that will help you to reach it. It’s also a great time to discuss any injuries you may have, exercises to avoid, and simple things like where equipment is kept.
Always arrive with a plan
Gym induction over, it’s time to hit the gym properly, and if you go in with a plan you’re so much more likely to get a good workout in. Decide whether you’re going in to do cardio, hit up a class, set up a circuit or lift heavy, it’s always good to have a back up plan too, in case the free weights are all in use or someone’s hogging the leg press and just won’t let up. Try having a body weight circuit (comprising of burpees, squat jumps, plank and push-ups for example) at the ready in case of an emergency, i.e the gym is rammed and there is literally no free equipment.
Pick your workout times wisely
The gym can be intimidating as it is, but trying to navigate the weights room when it’s heaving makes it even worse. If fighting sweaty, string vest guy for a turn on the lat machine sounds all too stressful, we suggest avoiding the gym at peak times. Right before, after work and lunchtimes are a no-go if you’re looking for an empty gym; instead aim to go later in the evening (post 7.30pm should work) or, if you don’t have a 9-5 job, then after lunch or mid-morning is perfect.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Despite what you might think, the PT’s walking around the gym are not just for decoration – so utilise them! They’re there to be helpful, so if you can’t work out how to use a new machine, where something is or you simply want someone to help place a heavy barbell onto your shoulders so you can achieve that squat PB, ask away.
Having a gym squad (or buddy) is going to make those early morning sessions when you just want to stay in bed, or that evening spin class when Netflix is calling your name, so much easier to make. Catching up with friends makes the gym less of a chore, and it’s also a lot harder to ditch your workout when you know someone is counting on you to be there. If you can’t get a friend to join the gym with you, then reach out to already existing members. There is a right and a very, very wrong way to do this; don’t introduce yourself to a potential spin buddy when she’s getting changed, for example. Chat in between tracks in class and bond over how you know you’re going to be unable to walk tomorrow, or if on the gym floor you can easily speak to someone whilst they’re taking a break (never speak to someone mid-set). Oh, and even if you think girl on the squat rack has the best butt you’ve ever seen, avoid creepy compliments at all costs.
Try the classes
After all, they’re part of what you pay for in your membership! Classes are a safe space for all, and full of like-minded people supporting each other through those testing 2 minute wall-sits. They’re not only super fun and motivating, but they’re a way for beginners to get stuck into lots of different types of exercise, and find out what works for them and what doesn’t. Whether it’s a hiit class, spin, pilates or boxing, you’ll find something that you love, and keep coming back for more as a result. Plus, classes mean you’ll learn proper form, and exercises that you can integrate into your solo workout routines. Bonus!
Sort out a killer playlist
What’s more motivating than your favourite tracks? The same way you want to get up and bust a move when your song comes on the radio, you’ll feel much more inclined to work hard and full of energy when listening to motivating tunes at the gym. Our advice? Get on spotify and put together a playlist of the songs that make you feel like a beast and hit the gym; we’re betting you hit PB after PB…
Knowing you have a treat waiting for you when you come out of the gym is the best. Motivation. Ever. Be it a slap up brunch, shopping trip or massage, it’s always a great idea to schedule something in every month or so to keep you motivated and on the right track. A personal favourite of ours is treating ourselves to new gym clothes to smash our goals in!
Track your progress
Going back to point one, it’s great to have a goal in mind when going to the gym, and keeping track of it is needed in order to provide you with inspiration on those days you just want to lie in a pile of warm laundry and eat bread. Measure your body fat percentage, keep tabs on the amount of press-ups you can manage in one go week on week and never shy away from a gym selfie…