Adding exercise into your life can be something new and unfamiliar for a lot of people. Many people don't know where to start or what to do. The fitness floor at a gym can often be an unfamiliar territory with a lot of weight and cardio machines that seem as if they need an owner's manual just to operate.
Making the decision to start exercising and become healthier is a great step in the right direction.
Get that gym membership and don't let those machines intimidate you!
Every person that you see at the gym was once new to working out. Don't let not knowing how to work a machine or what muscle to work stop you from going to the gym.
Most gyms have an employee that will show you around and explain the machines. It's sometimes just a basic tour but at least you'll get an idea of which machine does what.
A lot of the cardio machines are self explanatory. When you're first starting out at the gym, all you need to do is push the "quick start" button and you'll be on your way. As you get the feel of the cardio machines, you can play around with the resistance and incline.
Treadmills, for example, let you change the incline so that you are walking uphill. You'll soon learn that walking at an incline is a lot harder than walking on a flat treadmill. It'll be harder which means you'll be able to burn more calories and really work those glutes!
The employees at the fitness desk have knowledge of the machines and are there to help you. If you need help setting up a program on the elliptical or treadmill, just ask! This is their job and they're there to offer assistance.
The cardio equipment - bikes, treadmills, elliptical, etc. often have set programs that are really easy to use. You can choose a weight loss program, a fat burning program, an interval program and many more. A quick tip: If you can't get the machine to start, just start using it. For example, a stationary bike might not turn on until you physically start pedaling.
Weight machines are intimidating for some people. Most of the weight machines have a picture on them showing you how to use them. They usually also give simple instructions and show you what muscles they are targeting. Once again, if you have a question about how to use a weight machine, the gym staff should be happy to help you.
Free weights are another great piece of equipment at the gym. These are great for people new to strength training. You can choose what weight selection you want to use and they don't provide assistance like some of the machines do.
When using weights it's important to make sure that you have correct form. Having correct form is more important than how much weight you lift so that you don't get hurt.
If you really want to start strength training, but really have no idea where to start, hiring a personal trainer can be beneficial. They can show you which exercises to do, the correct form, how to use the machines and how much weight to lift. Hiring a personal trainer is a great investment in your health and well-being.
A lot of gyms also offer group fitness classes. Even though you might be intimidated to take a group fitness class, these are a great place to start. They will help you learn the basics of certain exercises and the instructor can make sure your form is correct. They are also a great place to make friends and workout buddies!
One of the biggest challenges of joining a gym is actually finding the time to go. If you work and have kids, then you know time is precious. It's important to find time for yourself to workout and stay healthy and happy. Treat your workouts like appointments - write them on the calendar and don't skip them.
If you have children, find a gym that offers child care. Many gyms offer child care for little or no cost. If you have a spouse that is home in the mornings, try waking up earlier than normal and going to the gym. Or try going right after work. If you pack your workout clothes in a gym bag or put them on right when you get home, you'll be more likely to go to the gym.
Joining a gym has lots of benefits. Working out is not only good for your heart and body; it's also a great stress reliever. The more you go to the gym, the easier it'll get and the more you'll look forward to working out.
Heather Holtz is a fitness and health enthusiast who lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband and two boys. She blogs at Run Eat Play about fitness, food, and family.
See more of Heather's stories here.