So, you’re thinking about joining a gym…

I’ve been working out in some capacity since I was in high school. My first “gym experience” was in 10th grade at an all women’s gym in my home town. I had NO IDEA what I was doing. I joined the gym because my friends were going, and I really liked the smoothies. I didn’t even own real gym clothes, and I vaguely remember working out in sleep shorts and oversized t-shirts. Looking back, it’s pretty embarrassing, but guess what, I’m sure I’m the only person that remembers. My point is, while joining a gym might seem intimidating, with the clothes, the equipment, the people, but rest assured, there is no real reason to feel scared.

First and foremost, I am not an athlete. While I engaged in sports sporadically throughout my life, I’ve never excelled at sports. In a way I think this has prepared me for this season in my life, because I truly relate and understand the struggle to get fit. I know what it’s like to run a 14 minute mile, because at one point, I could only run a 14 minute mile. At the same time, I understand someone’s struggle to not want to go into the weight room or join a class at a gym for fear of being shamed or intimidated by all the grunting and sweating.

I truly, honestly understand the struggle, and in my experience throughout all the workout programs I’ve been a part of there is a formula for surviving “gym-timidation.”

First, whether you’re joining a full on health club, 24 hour fitness club, specialty studio or something in between, always opt for the new member orientation. If your club doesn’t offer this, ask for a new member orientation. During this orientation the owner or a worker should show you equipment, offer quick instructions on how to use basic cardio machines, explain gym protocol for using and cleaning equipment, tell you about any classes, and explain any addition services such as nutrition services or personal training.

Next, explore the gym. Take a minute to look at the layout. Most gyms are laid out with cardio equipment on one side, weights on another side, a locker room or cubbies for your personal belongings and bathrooms. Become familiar with the place. Then decide where you want to start.

My personal suggestion is starting with something you’re familiar with. If you’ve never seen an elliptical machine, do not try to use it on your first visit. Instead, use the treadmill or stationary bike. Both pieces of equipment are relatively simple to operate, and the proper and successful use of gym machinery will help to boost your confidence.

While you’re trying out cardio equipment, watch other people in the gym. One of my favorite things about going to a gym is people watching. If you love people watching, join a gym NOW! This is the best place to do it, and it’s perfectly okay. Use this people watching opportunity to see how more seasoned gym members operate equipment that you are unsure of using.

When you’re ready to move over to the weight section, you may want to start with machines. Most machines will have a diagram on it to show you what muscle group you are working . Use this diagram to set up your program. For instance, if you are working upper body for the day, use the upper body machines. If you are working lower body, use the lower body machines.

My final suggest is, don’t skip the free weights. Free weights are one of the best ways to build muscle, but it can be intimidating looking a weight rack with no instructions. I’ve been known to bring a printout or handwritten (I’m old school) paper with me to gym with exercises from BodyBuilding (link inserted). BodyBuilding has great pre-formatted free weight exercise plans that you can look up on your smart phone or print and carry with you.

Here a few more things to keep in mind when starting a gym:

  • Location – Is the gym within a 5-10 mile radius of where you do life. Notice, I didn’t say live. It needs to be close to where you work, play and live in order for you to commit. On the days you don’t feel like working out, you’re going to think of a million excuses not to go, don’t let location be one of those excuses.
  • Fees – You will pay a monthly gym fee. Find out if there are sign up fees or additional class fees.
  • Classes – If you’re joining a gym for the classes, make sure the classes you want to take are offered at a time you are available to attend.
  • Cleanliness and Upkeep – Gyms are germy. Make sure the owners are doing a good job keeping up equipment and keeping the gym clean.

While exercise is an amazing step in the right direction of wellness, alone it will not help you reach maximum health. Gain control of your nutrition and supplemental nutrition by emailing me at or visiting  for more information.


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