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Whether you’re looking to lose weight, improve your fitness or learn a new sport, getting active is a great strategy to make this year your best one yet.
So, if you’re thinking of joining a gym this January, we’ve put together 10 do’s and don’ts on gym etiquette to help you.
Do… set realistic goals
Understanding what you want to achieve from your workout is crucial for change and staying motivated.
People who set goals are likely to achieve more because they know the steps they need to take in order to reach their targets.
When setting goals, make sure they’re unique and specific to you. So instead of, ‘I want to be healthier’ try ‘I want to run 3 miles’ or ‘I want to lift 20kg’. These are more exact and make tracking your process much easier too.
Do… try something new
It’s easy to go straight to the equipment you know best, but there are so many ways to exercise that go beyond the treadmill.
So, push yourself out of your comfort zone and you may be surprised what you like.
Do… what you enjoy
Following on from point two, once you know what you like, do more of it!
Forcing yourself to do exercise you hate because you think it’s what you should be doing will never work. You’ll end up feeling fed up, unmotivated and stressed within days.
Keep the gym enjoyable by identifying the activities that work for you and that suit your fitness level too.
Do… wear the right stuff
Having the correct gym gear can be the difference between a good and bad workout. Small things like ill-fitting clothing or brand-new shoes that rub can all hinder how you feel and perform.
Do your research and invest in some proper kit that will make your gym experience much more enjoyable.
Do… get support
Being a gym first-timer can be intimidating. You’re unsure of where to go, who to speak to or what to do.
Don’t be afraid to seek support from friends, family or even staff at the gym on proper gym etiquette. Personal trainers are a great way to make yourself familiar with a new gym and how to get the most from the equipment.
They can also help with setting goals and provide helpful tips on how to track your progress.
Don’t… just think that the gym is for January
The January rush can be mayhem. Waiting for equipment, misunderstanding gym etiquette and annoying the regulars is never fun.
If your gym has the usual January busy period, consider doing other types of exercise until it has passed so that your first session is stress-free and more enjoyable. Starting off with lighter activity is also a great way to build your fitness and confidence before stepping into the gym for the first time.
Remember, your fitness journey is a long-term one, not just for that quick post-Christmas feel good factor.
Don’t… go too hard too fast
Gym newbies tend to have bounds of enthusiasm, which is great, but be careful not to overdo it and push yourself too hard in the beginning.
Going from zero to a hundred is never a good idea for our bodies, especially if they’re not used to exercise. It can result in damage, fatigue, injury, and is unsustainable long term.
Try alternating the intensity of your workout, so a light walk or jog one day, then a longer, more intense workout the next. Also be sure to incorporate at least 1-2 rest days a week to give your body a chance to repair.
Don’t… hog machinery
You may love running or rowing for hours but during busy times be mindful that others may want to use the equipment too.
Gym etiquette is important so be flexible, share the machines, and even try offering to buddy-up on equipment with someone who is waiting to use it.
Having this attitude will make you a favourite with the regulars, embed you into the gym community and make for a friendlier environment.
Don’t… be unprepared
Failing to prepare is preparing to fail. Without a clear plan, it’s pretty much impossible to keep consistent and accountable in your workout.
Once you know your goals, it’s time to start thinking about where you can carve out time to actually do them.
Ask yourself, when do you perform best physically? Is it first thing in the morning? Or later in the day? Do you prefer to work out before food or after?
Take a look at your daily routine and see where you can realistically put time aside for your workout.
Don’t… try to lose weight quickly
One of the best ways to achieve sustained weight loss is to start slow.
When we lose weight too quickly, it can mean that we’re restricting ourselves. After time, this normally results in ‘falling off the wagon’, going back to old habits and putting weight back on.
Instead, try focussing on healthy, balanced choices to help you lose weight slowly and steadily. This approach is more realistic and something you’ll be able to continue for much, much longer.