Making the decision to join a gym is the hard part. You know what you have to do, it’s just a matter of motivating yourself to actually get up and do it. Let’s not pretend it’s going to be easy, but then again, nothing worthwhile comes without a bit of hard work.
The important thing is that you’re moving in the right direction. Progress is progress, however small or slow. The next few weeks and months are an exciting new dawn as you set off on your new fitness journey. But the good news is we’re here to help you along the way.
Here are a few things to think about before you kick things off:
Choosing a gym
So you’ve decided you’re going to join a gym. Location and price will often determine the gym we pick but it is also worthwhile taking other factors into consideration, such as:
Facilities – does the gym cater for your current and future needs? Maybe you prefer cardio exercises, swimming and weight training? Does your preferred gym offer all that? Make sure your needs are addressed before signing up for a monthly or annual membership.
Classes – does the gym offer classes such as Spin, cardio, Zumba, Boxing or Circuit training? Do you have to pay for these or are they inclusive of the membership fee? When starting out motivation can be the first stumbling block. Classes are a great way of making sure motivation remains high by keeping things interesting and different.
Peak times – there is nothing more frustrating than getting to the gym only to stand around because the equipment is being used. Try to establish busy times early on – ask staff if you need to. Try to avoid peak times so you can focus properly and your training isn’t interrupted.
Set yourself some fitness goals
Setting goals is a quick and easy way to stay on track. It gives you something to work towards and is a great motivator. That said, be sure to make your goals realistic, as failure to achieve ‘hopeful’ targets can have the opposite effect. Make it fun and reward yourself when you reach certain milestones.
Create a basic training routine
In the early days, a routine can do wonders for motivation. Simply having your training plan written down or set-up as reminders on your calendar can help to ensure you go to the gym, rather than staying at home. As you progress, this training routine will evolve from a basic agenda to a more detailed plan determined by your training goals.
Watch what you eat
There is a popular saying that goes something like ‘80% of gains are made in the kitchen’ and this is true of people looking to build muscle and size or who want to lose weight.
You’re only as strong as your weakest link, so if you are training hard but eating badly, you almost certainly won’t see the results you want to see. Get your nutrition sorted and the rest will follow.
Protein supplements are a great starting point. They’ll help you recover quickly after training, making sure you maintain intensity for your next session. Protein is also known to increase satiety, making you feel fuller for longer, which can help fight against food cravings and snacking.
When most people first get a taste for the gym, they often go as often as you they can, and this is encouraged. It is however important to make sure you are getting enough rest to aid the recovery process. If you are starting to feel fatigued and your energy levels drop, take a day off. The body repairs and rebuilds during rest periods so don’t be afraid to miss a session – you’ll come back stronger.
Your fitness goals will and should determine your training routine. If you want to lose weight, focus on varying forms of cardio, training at high intensity, but don’t be afraid to do weight training too – a combination of the two will help you reach your goals quicker.
Don’t be afraid to seek advice either. Trainers are paid to help so if you have a question whilst at the gym, make sure you ask them.
Have Fun with it
The most important thing of all is to enjoy it. As soon as the gym becomes habitual, which it will with time, your progress will improve tenfold. When it becomes a frustration not to train, you’ll know you’re on to a good thing. Train hard, eat right and enjoy the life gains.