Get into amazing shape: Going to the gym for the first time
Getting into amazing shape can be difficult, especially when you’re trying for the first time. In this article, I will take you through a step-by-step guide to help you through the process of what to do when going to the gym for the first time.
So how do you do this?
What to do after choosing a gym
Get an introduction to the gym
Being new to the gym can be confusing, but once you find your way around them, it's easy to find the equipment and follow gym etiquette. You can shortcut this process by asking a trainer to take you through the gym.
The best way to get a feel for a gym is by starting with a consultation. A trainer will guide you through how the gym operates and to know where everything is. Knowing your responsibilities as a member will also help with knowing what equipment to use.
Choose a beginner-friendly class
It can be a little intimidating going to the gym. You may not know what you want to do, or how to use the equipment. Don't worry! Gyms usually have classes that you can try out for free or at a reduced price.
By trying a different workout every time you go to the gym, you're sure to find something that will fit your needs and your goals. The best way to figure out which class is right for you is to watch a few videos online and compare them with your fitness level and desired results.
Buy new workout clothes
It's all about feeling and looking good in your own skin, as well as investing in new workout clothes. If you're new to the gym, you're probably hoping to improve your physical or mental health.
If you're not sure what to wear to the gym on your first visit, it's all trial and error. You'll need a range of outfits depending on your goals and what you're training for.
Set a time
When going to the gym, have a set time that suits you best. Start by choosing a time of day when you are not so busy with other commitments. Once you find that one-time slot that works for you, then it will be easier to go because it becomes a routine. This is especially helpful to cut out any nervous feelings, as you have something to look forward to. If you're nervous about going, pick a time when there are little to no people at the gym.
What to do before going to the gym
Set short term and long-term goals
Setting short-term and long-term goals help you stay motivated when you don't feel like going to the gym. They also help give your workouts more meaning. They're there to help you keep track of your progress and to help you do something you can't do right now.
If you are unsure of how to set goals or don’t know where to start, check out these articles:
- Goals: Setting Yourself Up for Success
- How To Set Smart Goals for Fitness.
You’ll find these articles helpful when planning out your short-term and long-term goals.
Have a plan
Having a plan before you go into the gym can help. Have a good structure in place to know what exercises you are going to perform. You will be able to map out how much time it will take you to complete each exercise. It will also help you to know how many sets and reps that you should complete for each exercise.
This can help to prevent wasting so much time thinking about what to do and where to go. The first thing you should do before you walk into the gym is figure out what you want to do for this workout. Then find the equipment for that activity. If it is not clear, ask someone who works there for help.
Pack your gym bag
When you think about what you need for the gym, it's usually a lot. It can be hard to stay organized and even harder to remember everything. The easiest way to make sure we have everything we need for the gym is to pack our bags ahead of time - the night before or even up to 3 days in advance. This way, when it comes to the time you are leaving for the gym, all you'll have left to do is decide what outfit to wear.
Bring a friend
There are many people who find it very intimidating to go to the gym for the first time or by themselves. One solution is to have a friend with you while you work out. Bringing someone along who has been there before can make any newbie feel more comfortable and less nervous about going to a gym. When choosing someone, look for someone with similar goals and fitness levels.
Eat a healthy pre-workout meal
Prepare your body for the workout ahead by eating a tasty and nutritious pre-workout meal or snack. This will increase your performance throughout your workout. By fuelling up before with the right foods, you’ll not only perform better, but you’ll feel better too. This will also help in the recovery process after your workout. 
What to do while in the gym
Start with what you know
Try to start with the equipment and exercises that you already know. This will make the experience feel less daunting and make you feel more confident.
If a little walk on the treadmill makes you happy, go for it; or, your happy place may be blazing through a HIIT workout. In any case, starting with exercises you're comfortable with removes some of the stress.
After you've adjusted to your new surroundings, give yourself permission to try new things. You'll be surprised at how liberating it is to try new things.
Listen to a workout playlist
Choose your favourite workout music to get you revved up before you begin your exercise. Professor J. Waterhouse's study, titled "Effects of music tempo upon submaximal cycling performance," found that listening to fast-paced music boosts workout performance output . This is because it boosts your stamina and improves your mood. This will not only assist you in burning a few more calories, but it will also ensure that you have fun while doing it.
If you're performing strength training, studies suggest that fast-paced music with a BPM of 140 or higher is best.
For proper hydration, drink plenty of water before, during, and after your workout. The water in your body regulates your body temperature and lubricates your joints. It helps with nutrition delivery, ensuring that you have adequate energy and stay healthy. If you're not adequately hydrated, your body won't perform at its fullest. 
What to do after going to the gym
Consider performing static stretches while you are still warm after your workout.
Stretching is performed as part of the cool-down phase following a workout. It's not a one-and-done deal, but it's a necessary step in the process.
This is due to static stretches, which include holding a stretch for 30 to 60 seconds at a time. Stretching is more effective when your muscles are warm, compared to when your body is cold and tight before working out.
Eat a healthy post-workout meal
Take care of your body after your workout. You can do this by eating the right foods, to ensure you get the necessary nutrients your body needs. It is important to eat meals with a healthy amount of protein, fats, and carbs. These meals will aid in muscle recovery and growth.
You can find some recipe ideas for your post-workout snack over on our Recipe Centre.
In conclusion, getting in shape is not always easy, but it is worth the effort. If you want to start going to the gym for the first time, follow these steps: get an introduction to the gym and choose a beginner-friendly class. Next, buy some gym gear and spend some time thinking about your short-term and long-term goals. Once you have all this figured out, set a time and plan accordingly!
- Get an introduction to the gym
- Choose a beginner-friendly class
- Buy some gym gear
- Set a time
- Set short term and long-term goals
- Have a plan
- Pack your gym bag
- Bring a friend
- Eat a healthy pre-workout meal
- Start with what you know
- Listen to a workout playlist
- Stay hydrated
- Eat a healthy post-workout meal
 - Hawley, J. A., & Burke, L. M. (1997). Effect of meal frequency and timing on physical performance. The British journal of nutrition, 77 Suppl 1, S91–S103. https://doi.org/10.1079/bjn19970107
 - Waterhouse, J., Hudson, P. and Edwards, B. (2010), Effects of music tempo upon submaximal cycling performance. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, 20: 662-669. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1600-0838.2009.00948.x
 - Popkin, B. M., D'Anci, K. E., & Rosenberg, I. H. (2010). Water, hydration, and health. Nutrition reviews, 68(8), 439–458. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1753-4887.2010.00304.x