Top tips for starting a gym routine
On my first day ever, I remember feeling so nervous about what environment I was about to step into. I didn’t know where anything was and I didn’t actually know what workout I wanted or needed to do to help me with my goals. That being said here are ten things I wish I knew when I started out in the gym…
1. It’s ok to feel nervous
The more I thought about it, the more I felt insecure which made me more nervous than before! It’s ok to feel nervous when you first step foot into a gym, by choosing to sign up for a gym you are essentially pushing yourself outside your comfort zone which does make us feel nervous, worried or scared and all of those feeling are okay. You will slowly begin to become more confident the more you go.
2. It's ok to ask for help
A lot of my clients initially felt very nervous about asking a member of staff for help and thinking back to my early gym days, so did I. If I never asked for help, my time in the gym would have been very frustrating and unfulfilling. The staff are there for a reason, to help you get better and support you with your goals. Asking for help doesn’t mean you aren’t capable of achieving anything within the gym, if anything it’s the best way to help you achieve your goals.
3. Lifting weights doesn't make you less feminine
For some reason a lot of ladies (including my past self) feel like that as soon as you start weightlifting, you’ll be perceived as manly and unfeminine. That’s actually not true, if anything it’s very empowering and makes you feel awesome! Weightlifting is a great way to build the body you aspire to have. You don’t have to beat yourself up on the cardio kit for 2+ hours!
4. The free weights area isn't for guys only!
It can be intimidating walking into a part of the gym where it is heavily dominated by guys that can lift heavy weights, but don’t worry you can still get in there and smash your workout too. A lot of my clients (myself included in the early days) felt very intimidated by going into the free weights area and that was down to me (and my clients) not knowing how to execute an exercise rather than the fact it was purely dominated by guys.
As soon as you realise that your confidence is just lacking purely based on not knowing what to do, all you have to do is get educated. Ever since I have educated my clients on how to do something and what kit they need, they have transformed from being too scared to leave the cardio section to wandering in the most popular and more male dominated parts of the gym without batting an eye-lid. The gym is for EVERYONE to use, it’s for EVERYONE to get better, fitter, faster and stronger!
5. People are open and welcome to sharing equipment
When I went during peak times I used to walk away from the busiest parts of the gym because I assumed everyone would say no if I asked to share the equipment or jump on the machine in-between sets. That overwhelmed me so much that I then changed my workout plan simply because it was busy. Remember we are all in the same boat and no one is actually precious about the kit they use; it’s ok to ask:
“Hi, is it ok if I jump on this in-between your sets?”
“Hey, how many sets do you have left?”
Both of those questions work a treat because it gives you an idea of how long that person will be and most of the time they actually offer for you to jump on whilst they rest so it’s a win win! It can be nerve racking asking for the first time but just remember everyone has done it at some point and you’ll much better once you jump over that obstacle.
6. Failures are essential to you getting fitter and stronger both physically and mentally
When I first started out I vividly remember feeling really low about myself if a workout didn’t go to plan because it was getting harder. The main lesson I learnt from that was;
“If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you”
For a while didn’t realise that until I pushed to the point where I fail at something that I will never grow. Trying to reduce my 5k time by running faster, lifting 80kg on the leg press and not getting all the reps in. Those failures are the most important parts of your training as that is essentially what is making you stronger. If you go in lifting the same amount weight, running at the exact same pace, resting the exact same amount and performing the exact same amount of sets and reps then you will not get any fitter or stronger. Failure has to fall within that process in order for you to adapt to the training you are doing. So stick at it and realise that failure is an essential part of your journey.
7. You don't have to do something if you don't enjoy it
When I started I out I played around with different forms of training so I could discover what I enjoyed. If you are following a programme and you really don’t enjoy it or you are doing something someone else told you to do and you hate it… just stop and do something else. As soon as you build a negative perception of the gym you will find any excuse to not go. You should love the process, yes the workouts will be hard but you should still enjoy it. Some of my clients tell me they feel like a superhero when they perform certain exercises so I make sure we do more of that style of training so they feel like that more often.
Don’t stick at something if you hate it, find something else; go to a class, get a PT to give you some advice on how to mix things up or even work with them to help build up your education on how to work out… you won’t regret it!
8. You do not have to train for 2 hours a day 7 days a week to achieve your goal
When I first started I was guilty of overtraining and not resting enough. I would go almost every day and my body barely had any chance of recuperating, which then meant I didn’t pack any intensity into my workouts. You don’t have to have stupidly long sessions either, you can go to the gym 3 or 4 times a week (dependent on your lifestyle) for just 1 hour and get amazing results! Reflecting back I wish I knew I could get awesome results by planning my week like this:
Monday: WORKOUT, Tuesday: WORKOUT, Wednesday: REST, Thursday: WORKOUT, Friday: WORKOUT, Sat/Sun: REST
9. You don't need to take the latest trending supplements
If you haven’t got the basics nailed and you aren’t training to an advanced/elite level then there is never really any need to include supplements in your diet. Back then I wish I knew that all I needed to do was:
- Eat a well-balanced nutritious diet
- Stay hydrated
- Sleep 7/8 hours
- Take rest days
- Reduce stress levels as much as possible
All those factors are the foundation building blocks you need to smash your fitness and health goals. You don’t to spend £60 a month on supplements to get where you need to be, you just need to master the basics and stay consistent with your training. Some supplements have their place, just don’t jump to them as the be all and end all to achieving your goals.
10. You won't always feel motivated and that's okay
People always have this perception of me being a bubbly/energetic person 24/7, but for the most part I am but just like you. I have my days when I don’t feel motivated. Back in my early gym days, I used those days as an excuse not to go and I wish I knew back then that it’s ok not to feel motivated. You will always feel better for getting into the gym and moving, even if it’s not to the same intensity as you would normally train, at least you’ve done something. Consistency is one the most important factors in achieving your goals. Just remember you won’t always feel like going to the gym and that’s ok, in those moments just remember your why, why did you start going in the first place?
We are all in the same boat as soon as we step foot onto that gym floor, we choose to come to the gym because we want to be the best version of ourselves. Whether that’s by losing weight, building muscle definition or simply moving more so you don’t feel stiff when you spend time with your family.
The gym is your playground so go and explore, learn from my mistakes and unlock your potential to achieve those goals you work so hard for.