First Time at the Gym? Here is What You Need to Know

Many looking for an “escape hatch” from today’s typical hectic and unhealthy lifestyles are turning to a conveniently located gym as a viable solution.

The specific reasons for looking for a gym near where you live or commute may vary considerably from person to person, but the most common motivations are to lose weight, gain muscle strength, get (and stay) physically fit and healthy, continue an existing exercise regimen during the cold winter months, train for sports activities, perform rehab workouts, and meet new people with whom you will share a love for healthy living.

What Should I Know Before Joining a Gym?

You may want to explore several local gyms with a visit or two to get a quick introduction to the equipment, the training programs offered, and the overall “atmosphere.” But if you are serious about changing your lifestyle and accomplishing your fitness goals, you will likely want to invest in a gym membership or at least become a regular attendee.

If so, it will be helpful to avoid some common misconceptions about working out at a gym and get a “heads up” on what to expect. Here are some helpful tips:

  1. Segregate workout time from socializing time. To get the most benefit out of your gym routine, don’t fall into the trap of spending more time talking than exercising — the results will be disappointing. If you can do both simultaneously, that’s one thing, but if your workout is too low intensity or stop-and-start, it won’t be effective.
  2. Don’t measure weight loss by the quantity of sweat. Many say, “I want to join a gym near me or a fitness club near me to burn calories and lose weight.” But the mistake is to think that as long as you are breaking a sweat, you are shedding pounds. In reality, sweating only indicates you are losing “water weight,” which comes right back the next time you take a drink.
  3. Don’t over-rely on cardio machine “zones” and calorie counts. Many modern cardiovascular machines display a calorie count, but these are estimates and not meant to be exact figures. Additionally, if you lean on the bars or otherwise displace your weight, the number will be artificially high. And if a machine has a “fat-burning zone”, understand that for a truly intense workout, you need to go beyond.
  4. Vary your routine and “cover all your bases.” Learn to use as many of the different exercise machines in the gym as possible. This will help you to train and tone all parts of your body to achieve “balanced fitness.” Build progress into your program; work out a little longer each day, a little more intensely, reach for milestones, and changes things up to force your body to learn something new.
  5. Take advantage of on-site training programs. Learning to use the machinery and how to do a variety of exercises in a way that is both safe and efficient, will be faster and easier with the help of an on-site trainer. In many cases, periodic training sessions are included in memberships, but members often don’t even realize it — so be sure to check.

What Benefits Will I Gain by Joining a Gym Near Me?

Already, 20% of all Americans are members of some sort of gym or fitness center, and the trend is only growing. Here are four prime benefits that are driving this trend:

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