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How to Start Going to the Gym

I decided to write this because of a certain video of Celia watching weight lifting videos with Uncle Jeff:




Ce, you and Uncle Jeff were fast friends. You adored him when you were a baby. You remembered his name every time you saw him and acted like you two had known each other for decades when you were only a few years old. Uncle Jeff is a master weight lifter. He is the strongest person I know and he happened to be one of the people who helped me get into weight training. He taught me a lot and I think passing on his wisdom is essential, even if weight lifting turns out to not really be your thing.


Science has repeatedly shown that exercise (specifically weight lifting/ resistance training) is essentially a panacea. It makes your bones harder, combats depression, keeps your ticker happy, improves your sleep and makes your sex life hotter. The problem is, gyms can be intimidating. There's a lot of equipment that most people don't know how to use. You don't want to look like an idiot and embarrass yourself. I know, because I’ve been there.


First off, no one cares. Nobody looks cool while trying to learn a new skill. No one is looking at you. You may be overweight, skinny or weak, but it doesn’t matter. Everyone else is worried about what they look like. They are wrapped up in their own little insecure world, just like you. What matters is that you are there. You’re not on the couch. You are at the gym, trying. That’s definitely more than most can say.


1- Choose the right gym for you. There are tons of different places you can start. I recommend choosing one that is fairly large such as LA Fitness, 24 Hour Fitness, or Crunch. Research the gym online and take a free tour. I recommend you visit the gym before deciding to sign up anywhere. Different gyms have different vibes. Most places will also give you a free trial membership for a few days to see if the gym is a good fit. Make sure you check to see if there is a contract! The price will vary depending on the gym. Start with somewhere inexpensive and without a contract if you can.


2- Consider hiring a personal trainer or ask a friend for help. Yes, personal training can be expensive. Fortunately, you can learn about most of the machines and basic workout plans with a few sessions from a personal trainer. Tell them what you want to learn and usually they can match a specific personal trainer to you. If you are broke, reach out to someone you know who goes to the gym and ask them to take you sometime.


3- Stick to the simple machines when starting out. All of the machines have some sort of picture on them that tells you how to use it. Watch other people use the machine while you are on a treadmill or doing some cardio for warmup. Some lifters will use machines incorrectly to target other muscle groups. Try and follow what the picture says on the machine. Machines are great for beginners because it is hard to hurt yourself and if you follow the instructions, you look like you know what you are doing. Once you get more comfortable, you can move into the dumbbell and squat rack section to try more complex movements like squatting with a bar and using free weights.

4- Start with light weight. Listen to your body. Go slow. The last thing you need is to hurt yourself when you are starting out. Eventually, you will get to the point where you can move more weight and try harder. For now, start with a weight that is slightly uncomfortable but you can still move it fairly easily for 10-12 repetitions (without grunting or making a weird face).


5- Focus on form. Start with doing slow, controlled movements. If you are doing an exercise incompletely, it can be a waste of time. If you are doing squats, but only going down a quarter of the way, you’re dumb. Lighten the weight and squat all the way down until your thigh is parallel to the ground. If you need to start with bodyweight only, that is fine. When you do bicep curls, don’t swing your arm or thrust your hips. Lighten the weight until you can do it correctly. Proper form trumps heavy weight every time.



6- Leave BOSU balls alone. For some reason, beginners love BOSU balls. You know, the half dome looking things that people bounce on?







I think of these as idiot magnets. They are entertaining and fun, and it is a great way to hurt yourself if you don’t know what you are doing. There is a place and a time for BOSU balls. They are great for stability and physical therapy. You don’t need that right now. Just leave it in the corner. Resist the magnet!






7-Don’t buy any lifting equipment. Save your money. I’ll tell you more about lifting equipment when you are more advanced. You don’t need gloves. You don’t need wraps. You don’t need sleeves. Just bring a water bottle. Maybe some headphones.


8-YouTube is your friend. You can find all kinds of different workouts online with demonstrations. Do some research. Learn all you can from a legitimate source like bodybuilding.com or muscleandfitness.com.


9-Keep going. You will learn as you go. You will be sore. Keep going. After leg day, you will eventually understand all the jokes about people walking weird. Keep going. You will start to notice muscles pop up. Keep going. Eventually you will feel at home in any gym, getting started is the hard part.


Now get out there and chase that sick pump, Bro.

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