With the start of a new year on the horizon, many people will be looking to start a new fitness journey at their local commercial gym. While this act is commendable and should be praised for its bravery, it’s not always met with ease or acceptance during this time of year. This blog will give you practical tips on how to feel more comfortable as a new lifter in a commercial gym setting.
#1 Pick the Right Gym For You
The most important thing to understand before joining a new gym is that not all gyms are created equally. There are commercial gyms that cater to the general public, powerlifting gyms that cater to powerlifters and other weightlifting athletes, and even boutique gyms that cater to one style of training like interval training, boxing fitness, cycling, etc. Be sure to pick the gym environment that resonates with your style of training so that you feel comfortable while training there. A crossfitter may not feel as comfortable in a commercial gym while a bodybuilder may feel perfectly settled there. Don’t be afraid to take advantage of any free-trial opportunities that may arise at different gyms to gain an understanding of which style of training and which gym you prefer.
#2 Introduce Yourself to Staff, Coaches, and Other Attendees
Ideally, the gym environment you settle for would feature a very supportive and encouraging coaching and management staff that would assist you in your onboarding process at their gym. Even if this is not the case, try to introduce yourself to a few members of their staff or even members of the gym who are receptive to such advances. Doing so will help you build your network of support to ensure you keep attending the gym after the new years resolution phase ends. This is incredibly important for reaching your fitness goals in the new year as a majority of people who join a new gym quit after the first few months. Having a support system in place at the gym you attend will help reduce the chances of this happening. If you’re introverted, find a friend, family member or even an acquaintance who may already be a member of the gym or is willing to join the gym to have another source of support to help you stick to your fitness goals.
#3 Learn More About Training
This suggestion is completely dependent on your level of commitment to the gym and reaching your fitness goals. Some people may have a simple goal of going to the gym more regularly and are not as concerned about program design or achieving any particular fitness goal. Other people may seek to start a highly technical sport like powerlifting and need the guidance and knowledge from a powerlifting coach in order to do so. If you wish to change your body composition, get stronger, and overall see astounding results from your new fitness routine it is highly advised to seek support and knowledge from qualified professionals. This can be accessed through local sources like a personal trainer or through an online coach who can provide their training and nutrition services over the internet. Before concluding your search to find a personal trainer, be sure to screen your potential coaches before hiring them. Not all personal trainers have the same knowledge and qualifications, and not all personal trainers can help you reach your fitness goals.
Read my previous article titled “What to Expect When Hiring a Personal Trainer” to understand the three most important characteristics all personal trainers must possess in order to help you be successful in your fitness journey.
Another way to gain more knowledge on training and nutrition in order to be successful in your fitness journey is to seek online education from fitness professionals. There are many online fitness professionals with outstanding qualifications (undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees and published research) who provide free content that would help tremendously in understanding the basics of strength training, cardiovascular training, and nutrition. Here is a non-extensive list of some of the best fitness educators and researchers on Instagram:
- Hypertrophy (Building Bigger Muscles) – Dr. Brad Schoenfeld
- Training and Nutrition – Alan Aragon
- Hypertrophy (Specifically for Women) – Danielle Webster
- Girls Gone Strong (Training for Women)
- Dan Feldman, MS, RDN – Powerlifiter Dietitian
- Shana Minei Spence, MS, RDN, CDN – Non-Diet Dietitian
- Danny Matranga BSc, CSCS – Fitness Coaching, Education
Understand that everyone must start their fitness journey at ground zero. Even the most well-researched fitness educators start their fitness journeys at this point. Utilize these practical tips to make joining a gym a more comfortable and enjoyable experience. Note that if any gym environment makes you extremely uncomfortable, you have the right to no longer attend. Try to screen out these flaws during your free-trial experiences as most gyms have very complicated cancellation policies and will force you to pay or send your information to a debt collection agency if you cancel before your contract expires. Pick the right gym for your personality and training style, introduce yourself to the staff and coaches, and educate yourself on the basics of training and nutrition and you’ll feel comfortable at a new gym almost as soon as you start attending it. 🙂