By Aparna Mele
It’s a new year and like many, your new year’s resolutions include getting in shape and joining a gym. Congratulations! You are to be applauded for your motivation and resolve to get your health back on track and incorporate fitness back in your life, but it can be daunting and overwhelming to figure out how to get started to achieve your fitness goals. Here are a few tips that can guide you when starting at your new gym:
LOSE THE PHONE
When you bring your phone to the gym floor, it’s an instant distraction, keeping you from focusing. Because you are busy surfing the web or looking for a song or checking your email, you are undercutting your own workout. Workouts are quintessentially mathematic, as you count out your reps and sets and slowly increase your weight challenges. The phone takes away from your counts and the momentum of your workout, plus gives you too many and too long time-wasting breaks between sets. Also, when you’re not focused in the gym, you’re in somebody else’s way. Remember that gyms are pretty tightly packed with equipment, leaving minimal space and someone could easily be waiting on the equipment you are wasting time on!
If you have an online workout you want to try, why not print it out and bring it with you?
COME IN WITH A PLAN
Gyms are chock full of equipment in every corner, and it can be difficult to figure out how to navigate around to get a maximized workout. Come in with a game plan for a workout that day. Perhaps you want to work on one part of your body each time you come in (ie leg day, chest and back day, core, etc) and your regimen can be tailored to address that goal. Cardiovascular exercise should also accompany every successful workout, and ideally stretching when you are done. Research the web, sign up for emails or apps that can deliver a Workout of the Day, or ask friends who regularly train.
LIMIT YOUR EXERCISE CREW
Coming with a large group is nothing short of distracting, as you are caught up with socializing and not focusing on why you are at the gym in the first place. At most, come with one friend, who can offer moral and physical support, ie spotting you while you lift. But you’re slowing your gains when you’re in a big group and too much time is spent waiting for your turn.
LEARN THE EQUIPMENT
It is critical to learn how the equipment works before trying to use it on your own. Look at online tutorials, arrange a detailed tour of the gym with a trainer and get educated by an expert, or stick to what you know to start, and slowly add to your knowledge base, one piece of a equipment at a time and over time as you watch more seasoned gymgoers use them. Trainers can be a good investment to start, and 5-10 private sessions can help you master much of the equipment and having an expert who can walk you through the workouts and integrate the tools in creative and savvy ways can be high yield and help you more effectively raise your heart rate and drive you back in shape. Many gyms also offer interval and circuit training classes that utilize the equipment and gear that can again enhance your knowledge and understanding in order to have a safe and effective workout.
Exercising wrong is not only incredibly embarrassing and cringe-worthy, it can also be dangerous, and you can seriously injure joints. Proper form of every exercise is the first step to building a fitness foundation, especially for beginners. If you learn good habits from the start, you will succeed at a much greater speed and you will see results almost immediately. You cannot perform to your full potential without learning the techniques first. Consider the goal of the workout, where you wish to apply the tension and what muscles should be targeted. Use joint alignment as a reference, and then vary your grips and ranges of motion based on your goals. Then, once you master the proper form, start adding reps and intervals and that will catapult your workout. Take the time to not only learn the proper techniques to do each exercise, whether or not equipment is involved. The quality, range of motion, and tension will dictate the success of your workout, so always focus on that form for fitness.
You took the first step and signed up for that gym membership. Now take the job seriously, educate yourself and research the tools and techniques, give it 100% effort, and maximize your success for results you can be proud of! Happy new year!