Author: Sorting Last Post on Top Message:
7/6/13 6:22 P

Remind yourself that every person in the gym who looks like they know what they're doing was once a beginner. Going to a few classes that incorporate equipment might boost your confidence. Often times a one on one training session isn't too costly and sometimes comes with the membership if you re-read your contract!

LDR2008 Posts: 440
7/5/13 8:35 P

You can probably ask some of the people who work at the gym how to use the weights properly. A lot of the time they are more than happy to help anyone with questions on how to properly use any of the equipment. To figure out what exactly to do with the weights, you can go to a bootcamp or body pump style class and see what is being done with the weights there, or as other posters have said, hire a personal trainer for awhile to get you started. As for feeling intimidated...everyone goes to the gym with their own purpose. I know for me, I get into a zone when I'm working out and I barely notice the people around me. I am guessing that it is the same for 99% of the other people at the gym. And that other 1%? They are usually the dudes in the weight room pumping up their muscles and looking around to see if anyone is admiring them. Hopefully you'll be in your own zone and you won't have to be subjected to that :)

KJEANNE SparkPoints: (0)
Fitness Minutes: (31,713)
Posts: 2,093
7/4/13 1:04 P

I go to the gym with my weight training work-out sheet. It has a list of exercises I plan to do and a place to enter the weight lifted, the number or reps and sets. I like exrx ( for developing workout plans (logs). The site also has videos on how to do each exercise. I bring my smartphone to the gym with me. If I forget how to do an exercise I look at the video at this site.

FIELDWORKING SparkPoints: (29,946)
Fitness Minutes: (64,745)
Posts: 748
7/4/13 11:59 A

When I decided I wanted to start going to the gym, I got a fitness assessment and a tour. I had taken a weight training class as an undergrad (we had to take 2 PE courses as apart of our gen ed courses - I took weight training and rock climbing) so I had some idea of the equipment. But it had been years. Of course, after I started going to the gym, I was half hearted about doing strength training for the first few months.

See if someone at the gym (employee) can give you a tour. They may be able to point out a few things that might help you get started. As Archimedes said, get a personal trainer or see if there any classes focusing on strength. Are you more interested in using machines, weights, body strength or a combination of both? Maybe look at the workout generator (
) and see if you can find something that works for you. When I first started using sparkpeople, I played around with the workout generator to see what kind of workouts it could put together for me. When I wanted to move away from the machines to free weights (like dumbbells), but was a bit uneasy about it, I found that the cable cross machine was a good place to start. I was using a machine but it felt more like I was using free weights. It also helped with form. What I like about using bodyweight is that you can move from modified or beginner exercises to ones that are more advanced or more difficult. As I mentioned before, the classes focusing on strength could be beneficial, especially since it can focus on form.

SIMONEKP Posts: 2,701
7/4/13 10:49 A

Most gyms offer a complimentary personal training session when you join. Ask about it and ask the trainer to write a program for you after they've had a chance to see what you can do during the session.

WANNATHIN Posts: 814
7/4/13 3:49 A

At my gym we have "lifestyle consultants" who wander around the gym and offer assistance to members where needed. These guys and girls are all well-versed in how each of their loads and loads of strength training machines and free weights are meant to be used.

I don't know whether your gym has people like these, but my suggestion would be to ask one of them to give you a guided tour of everything weight-based the gym has to offer, as well as demonstrate and spot you on how to use them PROPERLY. It's easy to lift a weight, but to do it RIGHT to get the desired BENEFIT is what's tough.

Otherwise, why don't you get really brave and walk up to someone you've seen use the weights before and say "Hi. I really would like to get into strength training, but I'm totally clueless. I've seen you know your stuff, so could I maybe ask if you have 10 minutes some time to show me the ropes?" You'd be surprised how many people would be willing to help you and you might also make a new friend / workout buddy!


7/4/13 3:21 A

When you were a child learning to walk, I doubt you looked around at other children who were already mobile and told yourself, "Well, I feel stupid." You just got up and went after it, stumbling, falling along the way of course, but eventually succeeding.

We teach ourselves to be anxious about the things we cannot do. And if we can teach ourselves such a concept, we can also teach ourselves the opposite--in this case, to work toward something we want with calmness, accepting that (a) there is a learning curve associated with progress and (b) we cannot care what those around us think about how many times we fumble until we get it right.

We are BORN with the innate drive toward self-efficacy, i.e., the push to succeed at specific tasks, such as learning to walk.

Becoming president may not be a task at which you can succeed. But working with weights--I bet you can.

So take a deep breath, decide you want to do this and work at it through every misstep. Eventually, you will develop a nearly autonomous system within your muscle memory that will allow you to move forward with the grace for which you're looking.

Best to you every lift along the way.

LAZY_DAVE Posts: 21
7/3/13 7:40 P

If you haven't done much strength training I'd start with the weight machines instead of free weights. It's safer and easier to deal with for a beginner. Do higher reps, 10-15, and lighter weight. Another good thing is to do something like a 4 day split routine. Chest/shoulders/triceps on tue/thur and back/biceps/legs on mon/fri with wed and the weekend off(for strength training). Cardio after your strength training routines.

7/3/13 12:40 P

Get one of the gym employees to show you how to use the machines and at which settings you should use. They love it, because it helps them keep their jobs. Get a workout program online or from your gym.
If you add strength to your workouts instead of just being a cardio bunny, you will really bump up your physique health and fitness.
So just grit your teeth and GO for it!

SOCAL_LEE SparkPoints: (43,325)
Fitness Minutes: (97,762)
Posts: 246
7/3/13 12:34 P

All the other commenters have given great advice. I think one of the most important things -- other than New Rules of Lifting for Women is a fantastic book!-- is that you only need to understand about 4 basic moves with weights to get started:

1) squats
2) lunges
3) some kind of chest press (can be a pushup, can be a dumbbell chest press, etc)
4) some kind of back/pulling exercise (pulldowns on the lateral machine, for example)

... and some kind of core training. The basic plank can't be beat, I think.

Once you understand and can use good form with these exercises, everything else in the weight room is, essentially, a variation. You'll see people doing all kinds of things like forearm curls, triceps kickbacks, strange things for their inner thighs ... you don't need to do any of that, especially as a beginner. So just ignore them and focus on the real basics. You will get good results.

I love the suggestion to watch videos; also, don't be afraid to watch yourself in the mirror. There's a good reason why weight rooms are paneled in mirrors, and it's not so the gymbunnies (male and female alike) can preen; it's so you can make sure you are doing the exercise the way you're supposed to.

Good luck and have fun!

CHOCOL8_LVER SparkPoints: (2,970)
Fitness Minutes: (695)
Posts: 30
7/3/13 11:05 A

Does your gym offer a personal trainer who can help show what to use & how to use it?

If so I would look into that. Even if for just 1 or 2 sessions.

I've heard lots of good things about the New Rules of Lifting for Women, but I've never tried it myself.

KRISTEN_SAYS SparkPoints: (81,290)
Fitness Minutes: (47,481)
Posts: 5,092
7/3/13 10:03 A

I suggest meeting with a personal trainer once or twice. S/he will show you how to use the machines and body weight/free weight exercises (safely and correctly) and help you come up with a schedule so you don't feel lost. I met with a PT twice and now I feel a million times better using the machines and free weights.

Edited by: KRISTEN_SAYS at: 7/3/2013 (10:05)
JRSMITH1982 Posts: 203
7/3/13 8:00 A

I second the advice about using a personal trainer or finding a weight lifting class led by a personal trainer. My husband said it was absolutely the best money he ever spent when he got a trainer. Once you've done it a few times with a trainer you'll be a lot more confident going in on your own!

LEC358 SparkPoints: (11,135)
Fitness Minutes: (6,555)
Posts: 2,744
7/3/13 7:26 A

Or instead of alternating arm/legs (which I find difficult because I like to do an upper body day and lower body day) alternate front and back of body so that would mean first doing an exercise where you are pushing (ex. bench press) and then an exercise where you are pulling (ex. assisted pull ups)

JCKBSMITH23 SparkPoints: (2,627)
Fitness Minutes: (672)
Posts: 120
7/3/13 6:45 A

After three children and 7 years I decided to go back to the gym. Well, it was not welcoming. For six weeks nobody was too nice and I was just learning the equipment. After this amount of time everybody got used to seeing me and they would ask about me if I didn't show up.
Anyways, if their is one thing that I learned it would be to alternate between your arms and legs. If you use an arm machine move to a leg machine next. This will help you keep from burning out.

I hope this goes well for you, and don't feel overwhelmed as they were all new to it at some point also.

BENTOGYRL Posts: 278
7/3/13 6:25 A

It's true, you head to the weight section and it's just frightening. For me it was always because I was the ONLY woman there. Either the guys completely ignored you, or the followed you around ogling. Sigh...

That and I had a HUGE bias to overcome that weight lifting was hard, boring, and would make me bulk.

Why did I even think that? Weight lifting is awesome! It makes you shrink! It is hard, but it isn't boring.

Everything that the PP said is good advice, I would just make a couple of suggestions if you can't afford a class or a physical trainer.

You can pick a set of exercises that will work your whole body (I did squats, pull ups, rows and benching) then watch lots of how-to videos of professionals. Bring a friend along to watch them too. Then hit the gym together and with a weight that's challenging, but not super heavy, do your first couple of workouts with your friend watching and fixing your form. Even if they don't have professional training just having someone watch you and compare it with good form that they've seen before is enormously helpful. You often can't see your own body when you are working out so it's hard to know if you have good form or not.

ARCHIMEDESII SparkPoints: (196,000)
Fitness Minutes: (292,438)
Posts: 26,976
7/3/13 4:52 A


If you've never done any sort of strength training, the weight room may seem like a scary place. There are two books I'm going to recommend to you. You can find them at your local library or online at Amazon.

Body for Life by Bill Phillips
New Rules of Lifting for Women by Cosgrove

Both are terrific beginner strength training books that will show you the basics of strength training. Both have various workouts you can do as you learn to use weights. And it's true, learning how to use weights CAN be very scary. One thing you have to understand is that form is extremely important. that last thing a person should do is try to lift a heavy weight with poor form. they are at risk for injury. AND don't assume that person next to you who is lifting knows what they are doing. I can't tell you how many men and women I see doing stupid things with the machines as well as the weights.

If you happen to have a bit of extra money, I recommend buying a couple of sessions with a personal trainer. They'll teach you good form as well as a couple of routines you can do on your own.

If you can't afford a PT, then check the gym schedule for group weight training classes. They could be called Body Pump, Power Flex, Sculpt and Flex, Boot Camp, etc... if you take a class, that will give you access to an instructor who will not only teach you the basics of using weights, but also good form.

Mostly, don't be afraid to use weights. You will not look like a body builder if you do. Also, check out the fitness section. Coach Nicole has a bunch of short 10-15 minute workouts you can do at home or at the gym. Watch to see what she does. Listen to her cues for form. That will get you started. There is an awful lot to learn about ST and you won't learn it all in a week or a month or even a year.

Thus the reason to slowly ease into a routine so that it will become just that, a routine.

And there are tons of great ST websites all over the internet. Google strength training for women and thousands of citations will come up. search YOUTUBE and you'll find just as many workouts posted too.

LOTS of options out there for you.

WILLOWYGIRL SparkPoints: (0)
Fitness Minutes: (16,538)
Posts: 103
7/3/13 3:20 A

So I am really good at getting out of the house and going for a walk or a run. And when I go to the gym, I usually go to a pilates or yoga class or use the elliptical.

But the moment I think about using the weights I start to feel out of my league. I don't know what to do, and I'll get in the weight room and look around and feel like I'm the fattest one there (which is not something I ever think, I generally have really good self esteem).

Can someone help me out? Is this purely a situational self esteem thing? or do I need to make a schedule of machines etc to use? How can I go about making a schedule of machines if I don't even know how to use most of them right? (PS, I love making schedules)

Page: 1 of (1)  

Other Fitness and Exercise Topics:

Topics: Last Post:
Looking for health/fitness trainer 5/13/2016 6:14:59 AM
App that suggests alternative exercises? Help! 9/17/2016 2:44:20 PM
Anyone sync fitbit with Spark? 3/19/2016 1:27:17 PM
Spark Activity Tracker 11/14/2016 4:57:34 PM
Fitness Tracker - Any Ideas??? 12/9/2016 2:27:21 PM