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Got a gym membership, now what?

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SparkPoints: (91)
Fitness Minutes: (35)
Posts: 2
12/5/12 10:29 P

You all have been so helpful! Thank you all so much. So many great ideas I feel like I can do this :)

Posts: 152
12/5/12 6:03 P

Back in college, I remember the gym being a really social place. I feel most people would be very helpful to someone asking for help. Plus, making friends would be very motivating in sticking with the gym routine.

An easy place to start is with the machines. All/most machines should have a little muscle man picture that shows you how to do the exercise and what muscles are being worked. The machines tend to isolate certain muscles. You can try to do one exercise for each joint that bends and one that extends. Try a weight that is difficult and go until it doesn't work anymore. Go home and wake up sore the next morning. Figure out how many days it takes you to recover, then you can split up your exercise routine over that many days.

Eventually, a more idealized strength training regimen for a novice would include 3 sets of 8-10 reps with a weight roughly 80% of the maximum you can lift once.

Once you feel more comfortable/buff you might want to try the freeweights. Form is key with them. They tend to be more compound movements. It's probably best you get someone knowledgeable to show you or a trainer.

Don't forget to stretch before you go to sleep to maintain your flexibility. Get enough sleep and don't overtrain.

Once you become more comfortable with your athleticism, working on muscle power with plyometrics can be fun to work in.

SparkPoints: (36,945)
Fitness Minutes: (40,641)
Posts: 820
12/5/12 5:35 P

I joined a gym in September of last year. I had two orientations: One to show me how to use the cardio machines and the 2nd, to show me how to use the weight equipment. I, like you, didn't know what to do at first, so I headed the less intimidating machine: the treadmill. After a couple of weeks on the treadmill, I peeked into the pool area and it called my name. I learned there were aqua aerobics classes, in addition to lap swimming. The group water classes have become my primary focus. I love it and so am able to stick with it. Plus, I've made new friends. After a few months, I ventured into the weight room. At my center, they have staff members floating around, who once again, showed me how to use the machines. I've been doing the weights for a couple of months now. I have also done a few other classes like Pilates. I would recommend you start with the item which interests you the most and which you feel will cause you the least stress, while you get acquainted with your new gym. As you become more familiar with your surroundings, you can branch out and try new things.

I love my gym and am so glad I joined.

SparkPoints: (7,472)
Fitness Minutes: (7,371)
Posts: 224
12/5/12 5:09 P

check and see what classes they offer. Meet new people and maybe they can help you learn the machines and make it fun doing it with someone too.

SparkPoints: (61,086)
Fitness Minutes: (40,069)
Posts: 4,472
12/5/12 2:35 P

the gym should definitely offer to have somebody go thru the circuit with you at least twice. Just ask. You usually have to set an appt.

flip thru some of the fitness magazines when you are at the store. When you see something that you'd like to try, buy the magazine. I have a 3 ring binder of pages torn out of fitness magazines over the years. Each page is in a sheet protector, and the book is organized by targeted muscle groups. I can flip thru the book and find 1 or 2 exercises for each muscle group I'm working.

Posts: 1,569
12/5/12 1:50 P

I second the idea of checking into at least the free orientation to the weights area (if the gym doesn't offer that, they should). I also second the suggestion of The New Rules of Lifting for Women by Lou Schuler.....great book with lots of pictures and descriptions of the moves, and workout routines already spelled out for you.

Just keep in mind that the majority of folks at the gym really could not care less about you and what you're doing...they are focused on themselves. They were all newbies at one time, too.

Posts: 5,070
12/5/12 1:47 P

The gyms I have joined gave me two or three sessions free with a PT. That way I could question and learn what I needed to do.
Luckily now all my workouts can be done in the comfort of my own home. I do HIIT and it doesn't make sense to spend the money in the gym.

does the gym offer free classes? You can always get into those.
Become friendly with some members. Find a buddy. I did and it was great. She had the personal trainer that i couldn't afford. She had a bunch of workouts written down and then we would exercise together. Don't be afraid to ask the PT questions. You may not have paid for sessions, but at least you can pick their brains. I know the ones at LA Fitness would show you how to use a machine or check out a routine that you wrote up.

Posts: 41
12/5/12 1:38 P

A personal trainer isn't in my budget either, but I get toning routine ideas from magazines and from apps for my phone. I like the iFitness app because it has exercises for both the free weights and the machines and you can create a custom routine. Nike also has a training app with pre-designed workouts and a lot of the fitness magazines also have apps of the popular workouts from their magazines and websites.

SparkPoints: (93,648)
Fitness Minutes: (94,931)
Posts: 12,896
12/5/12 11:48 A

Get at least the orientation to the machines, and I encourage you to at least save up for 1 PT session (ask for one for christmas) to alleviate your fears of the free weights. Generally, the women's only area at a gym has dumbed down machines (even less effective than the co-ed machines) and sometimes they throw the oldest cardio equipment in there as well.

Try a weights class, not the most effective way to ST, but again, at least you'll have someone watching your form.

Lastly educate yourself.

Posts: 49
12/5/12 11:39 A

Sparkpeople has a workout generator that you can use. They ask for your experience level, what tools you have, etc. Then they give a list of exercises for you to do. It's under "Healthy Lifestyle" then "Fitness." I think that would be your best bet until you get comfortable. I know the feeling of intimidation. My school gym has a bunch of athletes there and that is pretty off putting when I go. Just keep going!

Posts: 2,707
12/5/12 11:24 A

The gym doesn'toffer a tour that includes how to use the machines? I'd inquire on that. There's nothing wrong with hopping on the treadmill or elliptical. Defintiely add in weights, and i second the suggestion of hitting the free weights. and have good demos and some mapped out programs. New Rules of Lifting for Women (or the new Rules for Lifting that's not specificially for women) is a good book for beginners. It explains a lot, and has several programs to try.

SparkPoints: (13,195)
Fitness Minutes: (6,065)
Posts: 137
12/5/12 11:20 A

Cardio is definitely a good start. Rather than heading for the machines, I would suggest trying out the free weights. You can look up some exercises online and build an effective workout for yourself. Good luck!

SparkPoints: (91)
Fitness Minutes: (35)
Posts: 2
12/5/12 10:58 A

I got a membership to a gym yesterday. I can not afford a personal trainer at $40 bucks a session. I have no idea what I'm doing there! I want to have an effective workout when I go and get the most out of my time. I'm very out of shape after 5 months of bed rest and 4 months after that I sat in a hospital room with my son everyday. I'm about 60 lbs overweight at the moment. When I get to the gym I pretty much just hide in the women's room and get on treadmill. I want to use the machines but I'm such a chicken and have no idea which ones to do and for how long etc. Any advice for me? I'd really like a mapped out program of what to do everyday. There must be a way to figure this out on my own without paying the price of trainer?

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