The first week of January is now upon us and there are a lot of people starting out a new fitness routine to fight off all of the mince pies they’ve been eating during December.
How many times have you started something and then thought, ‘I wish I knew that before’ .. ‘ I wonder where I would be now if only I knew that’
Well, I’m with you there and so was almost everyone else in the gym at some point. So I thought I would share with you my top 7 things I wish I’d known before I’d joined my gym.
1. You don’t need fancy clothes and equipment
I love new gymwear, don’t get me wrong. It gives me a feeling of confidence and makes me want to go to the gym. And that’s a good thing.
But it isn’t necessary to achieve your fitness goals. You don’t need the most expensive leggings or the nicest trainers. Heck, you can just workout at home – who would notice your gym clothes then?
All you need is commitment to achieve your goals and you will reach them.
2. It’s OK to ask for help
It’s easy to feel like an idiot in a room full of people who seem to know what they’re doing. Trust me, I’ve been there.
But there’s nothing wrong with asking for help, a demonstration or a little support when you need it. Everyone starts somewhere and those people who seem to know what they’re doing – they aren’t any different.
I used to avoid doing certain exercises, afraid that I’d do it wrong or hurt myself. I wish I’d asked for help sooner rather than just avoiding it altogether. The people who work in the gym are there to help you. And the people who are working out will undoubtedly help you out as much as they can if you ask.
3. A plateau in progress is OK
When you first start hitting the gym, it’s common to see a lot of progress quickly. Don’t get disheartened when this slows down.
A plateau in your progress is a good thing. It shows that your body has grown and adapted to the new stresses you’ve put it under.
To make sure your results are continuous, mix up your routine. Don’t stick to leg day every Wednesday, do it on a Monday instead. Move your exercises around within your workout. Keep your body on it’s toes and your results will still keep going.
Sometimes I feel like I’m getting nowhere. Just remember where you started and how far you’ve come to get where you are now.
4. Nobody cares how much you lift
Everyone assumes that when you go into the gym the focus is all on you. Everyone is watching you, expecting you to lift heavy. And laughing when you don’t. Because of course, all of these experienced lifters won’t be focused on their own workouts just yours, right?
People get nervous going into a new gym, afraid to look like the newbie. You can’t be seen as weak, so pick up the heaviest weights you can physically move and throw them about a bit.
Form over weight is key.
If you can’t do a full range of motion with the weight you have, it’s too heavy. If you begin to struggle by the 7 or 8th rep, you have the right weight. Performing your workouts correctly is the best way to build yourself up.
Nobody is taking notice of how much you’re lifting but if you start doing partial reps or reps with bad form because your weight is too heavy, people may start to take notice.
5. Everyone is different
No one is the same.
We’re stuck in a society lead by social media, it’s all too easy to compare yourself to the thousands of fitness models on Instagram or to fellow gym goers. Pining away for hours on end, wishing you looked like them.
We are all individual, don’t put yourself down because you don’t look the same as someone else. Take lots of photos throughout your fitness journey and do regular comparisons, every few months. It’s a great way to keep up your motivation and show yourself how far you’ve come.
I don’t have enough photos from the very start of my journey, so although it can be an awful thought, take photos as you begin. It’s a great way to motivate yourself when you start pining over other people.
6. The ‘Scary Section’ Isn’t Scary. At All. And neither are the people in it.
Ok, so a lot of grunts come from the weight area. And a lot of throwing down of weights after a set. BUT, they really aren’t that scary.
When I first started going to the gym around 6 or 7 years ago I stuck to the cardio machines – treadmill, cross trainer and the stationery bikes. I never even looked at the people in the weights section – afraid they might shout at me, or eat me. (One dude was REALLY scary looking…)
But when I started back up at my new gym after a lot of home weight lifting, I wasn’t going to repeat the same mistakes. I spend 95% of my workouts in the free weights area and I wish I’d done that sooner. All of those people who were scary before are some of the nicest and most friendly people I’ve ever met and they’re always willing to help you out with tips and tricks if you need it.
7. Someone else’s workout won’t necessarily work for me
I get it. You see someone at the gym and you think ‘I wish I could look like that’. So you search the internet or grab a fitness magazine and jump straight in with intense workouts to try and get to where you want to be quicker.
These workouts were made for people like me, they’ll get me where I need to be – right?
Generic pro bodybuilder workouts are just that. Generic. And not made for beginners. Nobody is the same.
Train using a programme designed for your capabilities and your ability. Try a beginner’s programme or ask a trainer at your gym if you’re unsure what moves will work best for you to achieve your goals.
Just because a workout works for one individual, doesn’t mean it will work for you as well. The same as the workouts I use and post. They are all what works for me and won’t necessarily work for you, but hopefully they will help you to find a workout that does.
I hope this helps some of you at the beginning of your fitness journey, or even right in the middle of it.