So I’ve been a Personal Trainer for nearly 14 years. I have been in and out of multiple gyms in that time, heck sometimes even in a week. I have gone through at least a billion pairs of black gym pants. I have forgotten a ton of stuff. But the one thing I’ll never forget was walking into the gym for the first time (actually the two first times…..)
I was in college the first time…..back before every girl was in the weight room. A few scary glances from a couple of big football types and I was outta there, not to return until I’d had my kids!
It was one of those mega gyms because we needed a daycare on sight. Machines everywhere! People everywhere! Rules everywhere! Intimidating.
Since this is the time of year people finally screw up enough courage to actually start exercising, working out or in general using someone else’s treadmill I thought I’d try to slay a few dragons that can stop someone in their car.
What do I wear?
Something comfortable; that keeps everything you want covered, covered; something breathable like cotton. Don’t worry about getting the latest in gym fashion. Don’t start shopping at the high end boutique of gym wear. And don’t let clothes stop you.
You will need a pair of shoes, preferable ones you don’t wear outside the gym, the reason is that when you track through salt and snow or grass clippings you drag that onto the equipment and it will wear out quicker (rising gym costs due to worn out treadmill motors) and no matter how vigorously you wipe your feet they will not dry completely.
Women you will need a sports bra if you plan on doing anything bouncy. You will be so much more comfortable physically and if you are not worried about people gawking. If you are just walking or weight training your local Target can help you out. If you are large chested there’s a couple of routes….double up, wear 2 or go to a sports store OR a high end Bra store to get a good fit. And for crying out loud test it out in the fitting room! I am over worrying what the store employees think as I do a series of jogging in place (no holding the girls unless you plan on holding them at the gym), jumps and shimmys as well as bending over to make sure this bra is going to do the trick because let’s face it, this is an investment.
Shirt/pants…..this is to your comfort. You aren’t headed to a fashion show or a night on the town, presumably you are going to sweat. But, make sure you can move comfortably in all directions without pinching, chaffing, riding up or down. And make sure to check that your shorts stay put if you bend over to touch your toes. Honestly, people notice a whole lot les than you think unless something is falling out. So wear what you have or go spend a fortune, this is up to you. You will see high end athletic wear and you will see that free tshirt someone won at the bar last night.
Lifting gloves? Well, not a top priority. But if you are going to be lifting you may eventually want some……skip it for now.
My hair is long/short/sweaty, what do I do with it? Well I’ve had both and I hate hair in my eyes just as I’m really speeding up or lifting heavy so long hair is in a ponytail or held back with a headband. Short hair gets a headband or some clips. Sweaty get the headband. My headband advice…..well, you’ll have lots to choose from but my personal favorites are Urban Halos brand. They can be worn wide or narrow, high or low on the forehead, they are absorbent and easily washable and most importantly stay in place without being so darn tight I get a headache! Yes they are a little spendier than target but I love them!!
Makeup….well this is personal preference, my skin is touchy and I don’t like clogged pores or makeup stained towels so I skip it. Some gals come in right after work with the day’s remnants and do fine. I’m not going to say I see a lot of people put on a full face just to come to the gym, but sometimes I do, I guess my advice is be comfortable, if no makeup will distract you than by all means wear it. Same note, perfume…whole different tune….please, please, please DO NOT wear it. Many people are allergic to scents and in an environment like this perfumes are not welcome.
What do I need to get in and start working out?
Well, when you tour your prospective gym you should find out if you need to swipe a membership card of some sort (especially if you your health insurance will be covering some of the monthly cost…..!squirrel! Be sure you know how many times you will need to come to the gym in order to get that insurance to pay)
Pay attention to the bathrooms and if there are showers/saunas etc so you know if you want to bring changing clothes, not all smaller gyms have showers. Regardless, you may want a hand towel to carry with you to wipe your sweat off equipment as you finish with it.
Also notice whether there are lockers anywhere to lock your valuables while you workout. It is distracting to have to cry your wallet etc throughout your workout and you run the risk of setting it down in someone else’s way. Best to bring a minimum of stuff with you into the gym. This brings me to cell phones. I understand your music may be on it. I also know so is Facebook, Instagram and periscope. If you want to use it for music, fine (keeping with music etiquette, keep it so only you can hear it, use headphones) AND; turn off the ringer, in fact use the “do not disturb” feature if at all possible, if not, well most of us have kids and work that sometimes need to be accessed but please be considerate. If you have to take a call go to a quiet corner or step outside and keep it short. The rest of us don’t need to hear about last nights party. Make sure you don’t sit on a piece of equipment and carry on your weekly chat with your mom. And very importantly, no cameras! Cameras make new members uncomfortable and selfie taking people often forget that others are there to work out, save the posing for home.
Another common question, how do I hear the tv’s while I’m walking? My polite answer is, it varies, some gyms have headphone jacks on each piece of cardio equipment, others time into a radio station. My trainer answer is…..you did not come to the gym to watch tv! Crank your music and go faster.
If you got this far, bravo! And if the old stories start playing in your head about being too old, too fat, too out of shape to be in a gym…..you are not alone. I swear nearly everyone who steps into a gym at some point has said all of those things. Some even feel they need to get in shape before they come to a trainer (or even to the gym) before they get in shape.
A couple of thoughts on trainers….yes I’m sure you can figure it out by yourself or your buddy who has been working out forever can show you what to do/get you a program or the latest issue of some fitness magazine is all you need.
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand, this is the equivalent of changing the brakes on your own car the first time. Yep you can figure it out, Google can tell you, your mechanic buddy van show you, but do you really want to learn you did it wrong going 65mph on the highway?
After all these years, my husband still thinks I just count reps (and poorly at that).
Actually, I take full health histories before I start with new people so I’m sure there isn’t any medication affecting heart rates or joints that shouldn’t be used in certain ways. I learn what a persons goals are in the gym as well as their experience level, this way I can design a program to meet their goals, not just my favorite moves of the day. I help guide a person to sound nutrition practices to optimize fat loss/muscle gain, hormonal balance, energy levels throughout the workout and the day. I measure where the client is starting from so when the scale suddenly isn’t budging we can compare real measurements and photos to reinvigorate motivation and so I can hold you accountable to your stated goals. I teach you how to correctly, effectively and safely use the equipment. I make sure you are comfortable in your surroundings answering any questions you have, including proper breathing and how to combat exercise induced nausea. I am there so when you are sure everyone is looking at you, I can reassure you they are too busy worrying that you are looking at them. Or worst case scenario, they actually think I’m a nut job and wonder where I got my crazy pants.
Ready to make contact with a trainer? But have even more questions about that?! First, who is at your gym? Watch the trainers work. Ask some of their clients about them in the locker room. See if they have a website, do you resonate with what they have written? When they aren’t otherwise training, ask them a question or just start a conversation, are they like able, do you jive with them?
I hope this was a little helpful. If you have more questions feel free to drop me a text or call with anything no matter how insignificant it seems, if it’s holding you back from your best gym experience, it is important!
Finally, if you’d like to Sample a couple of real training sessions to see how compatible we are, give me a call or text at 612-202-0448. 2-45 minute sessions for only $67. No commitment, just experience the difference a trainer can make in your workout and your life.