The Gym Initiate’s Guidebook: Tips, Etiquette, and Mentality

While the decision to join a gym is one of the best lifestyle changes that you can make, it can prove to be a daunting experience to many first time gym-goers. A gym membership is as much a commitment to a community as it is a commitment to a better lifestyle. Much like every community, there are a set of rules and standards of behavior that need to be followed. If you are someone who has only recently signed up for a gym membership, it’s likely that you might feel nervous about starting with the gym. Here are some things to keep in mind:

Know What to Bring

Before heading out to the gym, it’s important that you have the essentials packed and prepped. Note that some gyms have a strict no towel, no training policy. The gym should be treated like a temple for self-improvement, which means that you have to come prepared. Besides a towel, a change of clothes, supplements, water, and a healthy snack, you may also want to bring a friend with you.

Having a gym buddy will help you get over that initial anxiety that everybody experiences, and it will also help you stay motivated throughout your training sessions.

Know Where to Go

Most gyms give prospective members a tour of their club to help them familiarize themselves with the facilities, equipment, and the amenities. Use this as a chance to take note of the places you need to go to, especially if your club provides members with 24/7 access. This will also help save you time as you’re able to plan out your day and route at the gym. Time spent lost in the gym could be time spent training.

Know Your Rules

Each gym has its own set of rules, whether it’s in the locker room, bathroom, or weights floor, there are a set of rules that need to be followed in order to ensure that the gym is safe and comfortable for every member. Some basic rules are:

  • Re-racking your weights in the right order after use
  • Wiping your sweat off of the equipment you use
  • Washing your hands before and after using equipment
  • Waiting your turn at machines, and keeping your things close
  • Focusing on your workout, especially if there are people waiting their turn
  • Refraining from dropping your weights

Know Your Time

Training time is a commonly overlooked aspect of gym life. The time you train affects your energy levels, the condition of the gym, and of course, your daily schedule. Generally, the best time to hit the gym is during the morning, as it not only leaves you energized for the rest of the day, but it also helps you avoid peak hours when you can barely use any of the equipment.

Set Your Expectations

Short-term and long-term expectations need to be set so that you’re able to achieve your goals. Generally, an initial fitness assessment by your club’s coaches will help you determine the viability of your goals. While setting personal goals is great, your best approach will be to work with a coach who can monitor your progress and tweak your routines to yield the best possible growth per session.

Temper Your Mindset

It’s common for beginners to think that they’ll be judged by their fellow gym-goers, especially when the majority of other members are already fit and strong. It’s easy to fall into the habit of being self-conscious when at the gym. The truth is that the majority of people at the gym are more than happy to help you.

Keep in mind that the gym is a place for people to improve themselves. Everybody starts somewhere, and the fact that you’ve taken a step toward improving your lifestyle is admirable in itself, as most people find it difficult to break bad habits.

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Most mistakes can also be averted by simply asking a coach to guide you throughout your workout session. For instance, it’s always better to ask a coach how to NAIL your front squat form instead of risking injury and equipment damage. It’s really a matter of finding the courage to ask for help.

Gyms are communities. Never forget that the greatest benefit of joining a gym is that you get to interact with like-minded people who are also trying to improve themselves. Like any community, it’s important that we learn to fit in.

If you have any questions, please ask below!