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10 Things to Know Before You Hit the Gym in January

New Year. New You? Are you planning to get more active, feel healthier, or simply to try something new? New Years has a way of getting you amped up to make some serious health and fitness changes while simultaneously bogging you down with the pressure to fulfil them. You're intimidated, a little confused, and probably reeling from weeks of festive fun and too much Christmas food.

Read our 10 things you need to know before you come to the gym to avoid the January blues and continue breezing through your new year’s resolution.

#1: Have a look around

If the gym is new to you or even if it’s just been a while, you’re doing yourself a huge disservice if you don’t take a minute to look around and see what your options are. Ask the Operations Assistants or one of the trainers to show you around. Oftentimes, people will beeline for whatever equipment or weight machines they’re used to, ignoring everything else—including lots of things that offer a real benefit. Plus, once you know where everything is, you can get down to business more efficiently. “Do a bit of a ‘walk through’ in your head in preparation for your workout,” says James Proctor, Health and Fitness Coordinator, “You’ll feel more confident by being prepared.”

 

#2: Come with a plan

It’s pretty simple: no plan, no progress. “Simply saying, ‘I wanna lose this belly is not a plan,” says Sam Brown, Operations Assistant and Personal Trainer. If your aim is weight loss, you’ll need a good program designed to help you lose the weight. (Hint: We’ve got a lot of those.) It’s probably better not to rely on YouTube as your trainer says Erica Mole, Strength and Conditioning Coach, “YouTube is a great resource, but not everyone who posts a video is demonstrating exercises that are safe and effective.” Instead, when you're in the gym, feel free to ask a Personal Trainer or Operations Assistant for some suggestions. “It’s ok to admit when you are clueless,” Sam says, “I know it hurts the ego, but it's better than hurting the knees… or shoulders… or back!”

A Personal Trainer giving assistance to a man lifting weights.

#3: Timing

Fact: the gym gets busy. If you want to feel like the gym is your kingdom, visit us during off peak times. Generally, this means avoiding the hours of 4.30 – 8.30pm every day of the week (excluding vacation times). We can’t promise this though as the levels of activity in the gym are as unpredictable as the English weather.

 

#4: Do your own thing

Just because that guy looks how you want to look doesn’t mean that what he’s doing will get you there. Newsflash: our bodies are all different, and your goals need to be based on the realities of your genetics.


#5: Getting to the second day

“Your first day in the gym is all about one thing: getting to your second day,” Natasha Bedford, Lead Physiotherapist says. We get it: you’re excited to be there and want results right away, but the result you’re gunning for with a too-heavy, too-intense first workout is some pretty serious soreness, or even an injury. “Go easy, stick with simple exercises, and use light weights that you can reasonably do 10 to 12 repetitions with,” suggests Natasha, as “prevention is key”. In fact, you’ll need to build a base for at least the first month. “The first 4 to 6 weeks of working out are more about your body making the neural pathways to perform the correct movement.” “After those initial weeks, you can bump up the weights or the cardio level and see yourself excel” says Pzermek, a Personal Trainer and Instructor based at Warwick Sport.

Several people on treadmills.

#6: Sharing is caring

In several key ways, the gym is not unlike preschool. The first similarity: the equipment is for everyone, which means you can’t hog your favourite machine, particularly if you have a long rest time between sets. “Get up and stand next to the machine to show you are in between sets, and allow someone to jump in for a set in between yours if they ask,” says Matt Hunt, Personal Trainer at Warwick Sport, “you might even make a new training buddy”. That also goes for gym floor space: keep yourself and your equipment contained and be aware of other people around you.

 

#07: Keep it tidy

Your second preschool lesson: clean up after yourself! That means putting away your toys, or in this case any equipment you use. That also means mopping up any puddles you leave around the cardio machine. “Use a towel to sop it up, or borrow the sweat mop,” says James.

 

#08: Stay healthy 

The gym is full of stuff that people touch. Their noses, mouths, and butts are also things they touch (yep, like preschoolers). Do yourself, your immune system, and your fellow gym-goers a favour and wipe equipment both before and after you use it, and wash your hands immediately after your workout.

 

#09: Singing is for the shower not the gym floor

From the ‘be aware of yourself’ files: the gym is a place to be seen and not heard. “A deep breath or a slight grunt here and there is fine, but no one wants to hear your half of the conversation. Your favourite jam may pop up on your headphones, but sing along in your head, not out loud—it's the gym, not The Voice,” says James.

 

#10: Sweaty selfies?

Some people seem to think that a workout isn’t real unless they post it on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. While it’s fine to share your fitness triumphs with your followers, be discreet with your selfie-taking when you’re on the floor. “Earn the results of your workout and measure them afterwards,” says Erica, “and never use a selfie stick at the gym!”

People on mats in a gym doing exercise.

 

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