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CKTALL Posts: 388
9/11/13 10:39 P

if you don't know how to use the equipment or the machines - ask the front desk to have someone show you how to use the equipment and the machines

then spend 1 hour with a personal trainer so they can map our a program for you

now you are armed with a roadmap to follow and have the knowledge to use the equipment and machines - now go for it

DELLMEL SparkPoints: (104,580)
Fitness Minutes: (44,432)
Posts: 21,742
9/6/13 11:41 P

A good workout and meet others who come for the same thing.

MPETERSON2311 Posts: 5,079
9/5/13 5:05 P

I started with just cardio using the treadmills, the stationary bikes, etc.I had these machines at my house, but honestly I could NOT get a moment away from my 2 yr old daughter to use them, so a gym with a kids club was a necessity.

Then I watched other people and how they were using machines for upper body, core, and lower body. So I brought in 3 machines.

I was approached by a trainer and it was best money I've spent for 3 sessions (plus 1 free one) because he helped me learn ways to work my ENTIRE body as well as many free weight ideas. It was aimed towards weight loss, so he showed me what muscles I needed to build in order to burn more calories. He helped me feel less clueless. I don't think I would've even gone to the strength training side of the gym had he not given me some confidence.

So then I used the weights and fancy machines plus some light cardio machines. I downloaded an app on my smartphone to help me find 1-2 exercises per muscle group always making sure that my sessions were as long as my personal training sessions 50-55 mins.

And now, sadly I am leaving my gym because I just want some thing new. A lot of the free weights can be done at home with a good set of dumbbells. I want to purchase an awesome gym quality exercise ball (SPRI brand) and I want to go back to Sparkpeople's keep it simple mentality. I will really miss the leg press machine though.

Honestly, I burned more calories, logged more fitness minutes, and was motivated to move more with my Fitbit than joining a gym. My daughter is a bit older now. She loves to exercise with me.

Edited by: MPETERSON2311 at: 9/5/2013 (17:06)
DELLMEL SparkPoints: (104,580)
Fitness Minutes: (44,432)
Posts: 21,742
9/2/13 9:26 P

I go to workout, meet other peoples and to have fun.

NASFKAB SparkPoints: (462,737)
Fitness Minutes: (184,030)
Posts: 251,017
9/2/13 12:53 P

never go to the gym too expensive

ASMARTERWAY SparkPoints: (0)
Fitness Minutes: (12,170)
Posts: 622
8/31/13 6:20 A

In reply to the original message, what you should do depends on what you want to achieve. If it is straight forward weight loss, do cardio at a steady pace to burn off fat and not too much muscle. If it is strength, do resistance training. If it is a combination of both, read lots of articles because it is hard to build up muscle and lose weight at the same time, If you are new to gym, seek advice from your fitness instructor. Even the most basic of gym memberships will include an initial assessment and an induction programme to help you achieve your specific goals.

NASFKAB SparkPoints: (462,737)
Fitness Minutes: (184,030)
Posts: 251,017
8/31/13 5:02 A

that iswhat & want to

DELLMEL SparkPoints: (104,580)
Fitness Minutes: (44,432)
Posts: 21,742
8/29/13 7:14 A

Love the gym. Haven't been in a while now. Gwtting back into it. I have to get it to going. It's ME time now.

8/20/13 11:22 P

If you're having a tough time with finding something to do (or finding something that works for you), you have many options, but the best bet are these two: 1) Speak with a trainer, utilize any free sessions they have, whether personal training or orientation; it's easier to find what works after you've had a chance to try some of the equipment! Another thing I have done is to try the classes. The Y has a lot of great classes that are used universally in gyms across the USA (i.e. zumba, Les Mills classes, group cyclin, etc...) My favorite classes are the RPM classes, which lets you progress at your own pace - you're in there with the pros, but they are also extremely supportive, if not just keeping to themselves!

There are a ton of options, so don't get discouraged!

8/20/13 11:11 P

I joined the local YMCA about 1 1/2 years ago and didn't have a clue going in the first time what I was expected to do. YMCA gyms start all new clients with strength testing to see where each person is at and they do it by teaching you how to use most of the weight machines. From that initial test, and your medical history they come up with a plan that the computer then varies every day to keep you from being bored.
As far as classes go, I've learned more from other gym members in classes than I've ever learned from personal trainers. They're great for variety, socialization, meeting new people, trying new activities, and enforcing accountability.
If you are self conscious about your weight or fitness level go to the gym when all the "barbie dolls" are at work between 10 am- 2 pm or 2pm- 4pm when the "stepford mommies" are doing carpool.

RAFFERM Posts: 490
8/20/13 5:32 P

You may have to be a bit proactive. Find a time when the gym is quiet. I go at 5:30am before work and there are only a few people there. By the time I leave at 7 it is busy! Ask for someone to show you around--or strike up a conversation with someone in the locker room. Most gym goers are happy to help out.Classes are good, but the ones at my gym are scheduled when I can;t get there. we just started an early morning spin class. It was great fun and the instructor was very helpful

IMJUNO SparkPoints: (7,623)
Fitness Minutes: (10,266)
Posts: 7
8/20/13 12:20 P

I'm going to go for a walk and enjoy the weather. The gym makes me feel self conscious. If I take a walk that is the beginning and then build up from that. Also, I am checking out a couple of yoga dvd's from the library. I can do that in my home without worry about comparing myself to others. One step at a time. emoticon

XME501 Posts: 3,571
8/20/13 12:58 A

We have a 24 Hour Fitness here in Pendleton and the staff is so helpful - always ready to explain the equipment and help me get started- and they are so encouraging. I feel very comfortable there. I go for myself and am not going to feel intimidated by others who may be doing more than I can - now. One day I may just give them a "run for their money!!" And then just watch out - here I come!!

MLAN613 Posts: 18,245
8/17/13 9:56 A

Online Now  • ))
I am going to chime in about the classes. Yes, you can burn a lot of calories in them. In my opinion, you get out of a class what you put into it. If you are giving it your all, you will burn. Thus said, you have higher energy days than others.

Also, the amount of burn will depend on the type of class in which you participate (In addition to your size, age, gender, age, etc.) A strength focused class like Body Pump will burn minimal calories in an hour whereas a high intensity cardio class like Insanity, HIIT, or spinning will have a high calorie burn.

Personally, I enjoy classes to add variety to my workout routine and I have developed some amazing friendships out of classes. If you decide to try classes out, introduce the instructor and let him or her know you're new. A good instructor will give alternatives or lower impact options.

8/17/13 4:34 A

Ask for an orientation. When you joined they should have shown you around. If you need help, ask the manager or anyone in charge. I belong to a small 24 hour gym. I love going at night when it is really quiet. All the TVs are off. I can hear myself think. There are some good tips here on Spark too. Get the name of the machines and type them into the search box here. You should be able to come up with some help there too. Treadmills are easy enough too.

Going to a gym really opens up a lot of choices for your fitness program.

DELLMEL SparkPoints: (104,580)
Fitness Minutes: (44,432)
Posts: 21,742
8/16/13 9:52 P

A good workout.

HEATHERBJ SparkPoints: (2,947)
Fitness Minutes: (3,699)
Posts: 3
8/16/13 8:57 A

Swimming is a fantastic work out especially if you learn good technique.My gym has a great trainer who helps develop this.Non of the granny swimming with your head out of the water.I ache all over when i do a work out of crawl,back stroke and have great toned shoulders and back.

DELLMEL SparkPoints: (104,580)
Fitness Minutes: (44,432)
Posts: 21,742
8/15/13 7:29 A

Try things there that feel comfortable to you. Since you a beginner try the bike and treadmill. Also you could get a trainer to help you out. He will show you different things that is helpful toward losing the weight. Good luck.

FLEXTYFAMOUS SparkPoints: (8,574)
Fitness Minutes: (12,078)
Posts: 116
8/15/13 12:15 A


SYLPHINPROGRESS SparkPoints: (97,644)
Fitness Minutes: (2,698)
Posts: 19,186
8/14/13 8:26 A

Veronica, if you smile a "hello" to a couple of the faces that have become familiar, the "power" or "superiority" they have will evaporate. They are just folks.

You might even ask a question about the equipment or "How long did you...?" or, with a laugh, "Does this get easier?" You'll get a pleasant response because people love to talk about what they do and love to encourage newcomers.

VERONICAFTMS SparkPoints: (1,871)
Fitness Minutes: (4,371)
Posts: 19
8/14/13 8:05 A

I feel your pain! I am also avoiding the gym and I do not really understand why, but my heart breaks when I read your post and feel the same way. I have lost weight but I still have a very self conscious mind set. I think the regulars at the gym are judging me, and I do not even care, but I am uncomfortable.
I will go and do some machines and free weights if u do, let's make a pack and encourage each other. Please message me.

SYLPHINPROGRESS SparkPoints: (97,644)
Fitness Minutes: (2,698)
Posts: 19,186
8/14/13 7:25 A

Who Girl, you and I apparently are in the same weight ballpark. It might help you get past gym intimidation if you focus on what you're doing today rather than where you were any time before. Another non-secret is that others who notice you at the gym are thinking you're terrific for the changes you clearly seek. Most don't notice, though, because they're wrapped up in themselves. Anyone who has even the slightest uncharitable thought is no one you want to know anyway.

Knock 'em out, Tigress.

WHOGIRL SparkPoints: (845)
Fitness Minutes: (100)
Posts: 10
8/14/13 7:09 A

I ride the recumbent bicycle and then if there aren't many people, I will walk around a use a few weight machines. I feel intimidated because I'm so overweight and out of shape. I'm also scared every time that I'll forget how to do the exercises, since I don't do them as much as I should.

Since I do weight infrequently, I try and do a mostly whole body work out. If you go more often, I would concentrate on upper body and lower body another day to let your body recoup.

RAFFERM Posts: 490
8/14/13 5:59 A

Look for a gym with a pool and swim your heart out!

LOULENE Posts: 91
8/14/13 2:02 A

Have fun?

LATTELEE Posts: 4,697
8/14/13 12:08 A


SNOWYOGA SparkPoints: (115,089)
Fitness Minutes: (42,964)
Posts: 8,998
8/13/13 10:47 P

KJEANNE, that was really cool! I like those and always enjoy it! emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

J2740LOU SparkPoints: (312,956)
Fitness Minutes: (295,541)
Posts: 3,775
8/13/13 5:19 P

Before you join a gym, ask if a personal coach or trainer will be assigned to you to discuss your goals, orient you to all the equipment, how to use them, set up a program for you to follow, and then observe you while you are working out for form and safety, making suggestions, and changing up your program to be more effective. If they don't, shop around until you find one that does. Don't just go with a friend and try to mimic what she is doing or let them act like they are your trainer.

DMD-MO SparkPoints: (14,395)
Fitness Minutes: (11,473)
Posts: 11
8/13/13 2:24 P

Excellent suggestions, everyone!

CICELY360 Posts: 4,140
8/13/13 1:59 P

Simply put, if you don't know how to do something, ask for help.

RNVICKI Posts: 89
8/13/13 11:36 A

I agree if it is a new membership a lot of the times the gym offers a free consultation with one of the fitness trainers. If not, starting off just cardio to me is personally boring. I need to mix it up a lot. I started off just 10 minutes on the treadmill and then would do some weight machines and then back to a cardio machine for 10-15 mintues and then back to free weights or stretches. I try and plan to do at least 30 minutes of cardio when I am at the gym and 15-25 minutes depending on my time schedule.

BLONDWUNN Posts: 6,258
8/13/13 11:02 A

Go to the front desk and ask for the trainer to interview you regarding your health and current fitness level. He/she can take you through some of the machines and create a workout plan for you that may include group classes, if you have time for them.

NOBLEEQUESTRIAN SparkPoints: (5,640)
Fitness Minutes: (10,988)
Posts: 247
8/13/13 10:39 A

Your supposed to do both cardio and weights. When I go to the gym I spend about 1/3 of my time with weights and the other 2/3rds on cardio.

Now some people may do more weights but their goal is more focused towards building muscle.

SYLPHINPROGRESS SparkPoints: (97,644)
Fitness Minutes: (2,698)
Posts: 19,186
8/13/13 10:29 A

Not all personal trainers are created equal. I've been told, but can't vouch for it, that the best are not on staff at gyms or community centers. Those who really know their stuff command high fees, earning lots more than they would on salary at a gym.

The expense can be a shock. You can, however, keep it down by having only one or two sessions to work out a program you can do on your own. Then, when you're in better shape and ready to step up your routines, you can set up another one or two training sessions. Or, by then, you may have learned enough to advance on your own.

It's important to use proper form for each exercise to avoid injury. This applies to working out on machines or not. Ask a staff member for the basics each time you use a new machine.

SP has lots of articles that help. Here's but one:

Classes are good for keeping up the energy level and finding a friendly face or two.

All this from one who has yet to really get started. I'm as bewildered for myself as anyone.

BANDOMOM1 SparkPoints: (3,254)
Fitness Minutes: (3,530)
Posts: 337
8/13/13 10:02 A

Talk to people, especially the trainers , I just signed up for Boot Camp, I have an idea on what we will be doing, I just met with the trainer. I am little scared, but I also can't wait to get started!!! Good Luck:]

PROPMAN1 Posts: 4,486
8/13/13 9:47 A

Better late than never for a response. Good for you to start exercising. Do you know anyone at this gym? If so, ask him/her about classes or a trainer that you can ask questions of. Some gyms give a free personal trainer for a visit or 2. Check on that. Good Luck!!

MAYBER SparkPoints: (120,147)
Fitness Minutes: (0)
Posts: 9,764
8/13/13 9:15 A

Get your body and mind moving
One day at a time

THEIS58 SparkPoints: (154,728)
Fitness Minutes: (50,315)
Posts: 5,250
8/13/13 6:35 A

Great responses!

WADINGMOOSE Posts: 1,048
8/8/13 10:10 A

What's great about gym memberships is the wide range of things you can try (assuming the classes are free). Try out a yoga class or a zumba class. With the cardio classes, you pretty much have to actively try to not have a workout to not burn calories. I've never struggled with that, especially as a beginner exerciser. And the cardio machines aren't for everyone.

You might even have a group class that does strength (Body Pump at my gym) and will start to help you feel more comfortable about working with weights.

I'm an antisocial hermit so I pretty much pick a treadmill and hope no one hops on the ones beside me while I run. Classes aren't for me, but I've used some strength programs found online or in magazines and the weights in the women's area to start doing some strength training on my own.

And here's the thing, if you start going to the gym and you're too intimidated at first to do the weights or the classes, do what you're comfortable with. Even if it's just the treadmill.

Once you're comfortable with that, branch out and try other things. Ideally you'll get to the point where you're doing strength, cardio and even a bit of flexibility.

HOLLY_3X Posts: 3
8/8/13 9:51 A

Great topic and responses - yesterday was my first day and I had one free training session - was worried what to do today when I go. I wanted to sign up with a personal trainer but it just isn't an affordable option for me. I plan on going M-F right after work and with the help of the responses I will be able to set up a routine with cardio and strength training.

Thanks again everyone for the input! emoticon

GYPSYDIV SparkPoints: (213)
Fitness Minutes: (75)
Posts: 9
8/7/13 6:49 P

Whoa! This is my answer. Thank you to everyone for reaching out to me. I feel so informed and empowered. I really feel like I CAN do this. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

FIELDWORKING SparkPoints: (29,946)
Fitness Minutes: (64,745)
Posts: 748
8/5/13 1:22 P

When I started at the gym I ended up focusing more on cardio than strength training. I still focus more on cardio because I enjoy how it makes me feel, in addition to the benefits of doing cardio.

How frequently you do cardio depends on how much time you have and your goals. I like doing cardio 5 days a week, early in the mornings, because it makes me feel good. I don't drink coffee or tea, so the early morning cardio is my caffeinated beverage. I found that it is easier for me to do the strength training at home, in the afternoon/evenings, with dumbbells and body weight. I'm not looking to gain muscle. I just want to maintain what I have while I continue to decrease my body fat percentage. If you have an hour a day and only want to go to the gym 5 days/week, you could:

Option 1:
Monday, Wednesday, Friday: Cardio - 30 minutes; Strength training: 30 minutes
Tuesday, Thursday: Cardio - 45 to 60 minutes

Option 2:
Monday, Wednesday, Friday: Cardio - 45 to 60 minutes
Tuesday, Thursday: Cardio - 30 minutes; Strength training: 30 minutes

My current workout schedule:
Monday, Wednesday, and Friday: Walk/run intervals - 20 min, Rowing machine - 25 min (total time 45 minutes)
Tuesday and Thursday: Walk (at an average pace of 3.5 to 3.8 mph) - 30 minutes; Elliptical*: 30 minutes (total time: 1 hr)
Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday: Full Body Strength Training** (30 to 45 minutes)

*Elliptical - Sometimes I change and use the stationary bike or spinning bike
**Strength Training: I can do it on Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday or Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday

As for classes at the gym, it's not for me. I prefer working out alone and not be distracted by other people. See what kind of classes the gym offers and maybe try them out. You could try various classes - spinning, zumba, kickboxing, etc. Also see if there are any classes that focus on strength training (using body weight or dumbbells, etc.).

KJEANNE SparkPoints: (39,612)
Fitness Minutes: (31,713)
Posts: 2,093
8/5/13 1:03 P

MCASKEY6 SparkPoints: (27,325)
Fitness Minutes: (56,767)
Posts: 341
8/5/13 12:48 P

I know exactly what you're going through. The first time I walked into a gym, I felt like I was on an alien world, being run over by perfect-bodied creatures. I was so overwhelmed and had no clue where to start, what was best, or even how to use some of the equipment.

But eventually, through trial and error, I found the machines and routines I liked the most.

For me, I do 6 days of workouts with Sunday as my rest day.

M,W, F, I do an hour on the elliptical only.

Then on Tue, Th, Sat. I do half an hour of elliptical and half an hour of strength training on the weight machines. (Do the cardio first, it get's your heart-rate up, so you'll burn more while doing your weights.)

Tuesdays I do all upper-body weights, Thursdays I do all lower-body, and Saturdays I do a little of both.
(I'm trying a routine that switches every 6 weeks between strength and endurance. For 6 weeks, I use less weight and more reps to get more endurance. Then I switch to more weight and less reps to work on strength. I just started this, so we'll see how it goes.)

If you're feeling really overwhelmed or confused by a piece of equipment, feel free to ask one of the staff to explain it to you. It's their job, and most of the time they're just setting around bored out of their tree. Also some gyms will give you a tour of the equipment when you first join, so you can ask about that too. Also, I recommend just keeping your eyes open, while doing your routine, watch the other people in the gym while they use other pieces of equipment, to get an idea of how they do their workout.

Edited by: MCASKEY6 at: 8/5/2013 (12:49)
8/4/13 10:42 P

Others have said good things, but I will add that classes can be great. I find they help with accountability—and they can help me with motivation . . . I find working out with others makes the time go faster, so that I'm not constantly looking at the clock and thinking "okay, I really CAN keep this up for ____ more minutes" when all I want to do is stop. Not sure about your gym, but mine offers quite a few challenging things—like bootcamp classes and spinning. Most are geared so that each person can modify to their own level (in spinning for me that was sitting and pedaling if up and down "jumps" got too difficult for me—as it gets easier, a person can always pedal harder or turn up the resistance on their bike).

The best workout plan is one you can stick with. I recommend trying all you can to find out what you like.

If your gym doesn't offer the free personal training session (I think most do . . . ), it should at least have folks around who can teach you how to properly use the weight machines.

MPLANE37 SparkPoints: (78,163)
Fitness Minutes: (74,458)
Posts: 2,170
8/4/13 10:32 P

You need to be doing challenging strength training and cardio exercises.

Cardio machines are pretty much self explanatory and easy to use. Choose any one of elliptical, treadmill or stairmaster or stationary bike; but start slow and easy. Don't try to compete with another person working out next to you. You don't know for how long s/he has been working out. You are only competing with your old self. As long as you get better everyday, that is a clear victory for you. Do your cardio in your non-strength training days. Start with a duration that won't make you hate it; gradually increase the duration or intensity of the workout, by the smallest possible increment.

Most weight machines have instructions of use on them. Study those instructions. Ideally you must do a full body workout, starting with the largest muscles in your body. You can tell which muscles are the largest by looking at the drawings on the machines. Some are tiny, some will appear to be much larger. Choose those machines that activate the larger muscles. Again, start with really really light weights. Again, remember that there is nobody to compete with, except your old self. Most people do 3 sets of 10 reps on any given machine. Allow at least 48h between strength training exercises. In your next strength training workout if you find that it is too easy to do these 3 sets, increase the weight by the smallest possible increment, and do your sets with that slightly heavier weight.

For more elaborate cardio and free weight lifting exercises, you would need to work with a trainer.

It is important to enjoy your exercises, because that would be a HUGE step towards sustained fat loss. It would be very counterproductive to push yourself too hard too soon which would cause you to become extremely sore for several days. To this end, try every exercise you can, and don't push too hard. If you don't really like any of them, there is still hope. You would then need to choose the least irritating exercise, and work on liking it, by either mixing it with some activity that you love or by rewarding yourself after working out.

Edited by: MPLANE37 at: 8/4/2013 (22:34)
KNUCKLES145 Posts: 15,985
8/4/13 10:02 P

when I first started going to the gym, I used mainly the cardio stuff. the machines totally terrified me. but I started watching how others used them and finally started trying them. good luck

KEEP_GOING247 Posts: 2,350
8/4/13 9:10 P

If you go to a gym that gives free personal training per the initial signup or per renewal, then you could use your free session to get some ideas as to how to start. I have lost 60lbs and a bit so far and simply started with the curves-like circuit and the treadmill until i was comfortable with other machines and then slowly added on group exercises to mix it up. Now i've added strength training to it.

Just start with what you are comfortable with and keep increasing intensity and time as you get more and more fit. emoticon

ZORBS13 SparkPoints: (189,433)
Fitness Minutes: (184,285)
Posts: 15,736
8/4/13 8:49 P

You should try everything, but a well rounded program includes strength training and cardio.

GYPSYDIV SparkPoints: (213)
Fitness Minutes: (75)
Posts: 9
8/4/13 8:46 P

I have a gym membership and have been a few times. I am really confused though, about what exactly I am supposed to be doing there. I need to lose about 75 lbs. Should I be doing mostly cardio now? Should I do weights? What about classes? Do they really burn enough calories to be useful?
Does anyone have a link or know of an article that teaches me what I should be doing at the gym to really meet my goals.

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