Around one in four people plan to sign up for a gym membership in 2016, new research by DW Fitness Clubs has found.
For a lot of newcomers, the moment that they walk into a gym for the first time can be daunting. Data collected by DW also showed that 48% of people are apprehensive about hitting the gym because they are “not as fit as other members,” while a further 31% suggested that they were worried about using the equipment in the wrong way.
The latter is easily resolved. When you sign up for a membership you’ll be given a thorough induction, during which you will be taught how to use machines safely and effectively. Even if you’ve been a member of a different gym in the past, it’s still vitally important that you go through the induction process.
As for not being as fit as other members? Just remember that they were new once, too. To help you settle in, DW’s resident health and fitness expert, personal trainer Carly Tierney, has come up with a handy list of dos and don’ts for beginners to follow.
1) Have a plan
Signing up for a gym membership is a big step for many first-timers, but it’s only the start of your health and fitness quest. Think about what you want to achieve and how you plan to go about it.
Carly says: “When you step foot in the gym you should always have a plan of what you are going to do. Beginners can fall into the trap of not planning ahead, they wait until they get to the gym and just do whatever they want. This leads to a lack of direction and results will fall short. Going to the gym and just doing some exercise is like walking into Topshop and saying; ‘I’ll take anything, any colour, any size. I don’t care if they fit or suit me. Just give me clothes!”
2) Warm up before exercise
You might be excited to get started, but don’t be too hasty! If you fail to warm up properly before each of your workouts, you run the risk of sustaining an injury and putting yourself out of action.
Carly says: “If you’re short of time, adjust your rest periods. Do not miss your warm up. Not only does skipping a warm up increase your risk of injury but it can significantly reduce the effectiveness of your training session. You wouldn’t not brush your teeth before bed because you were in a rush to sleep. Apply this principle to your workout. Make it non-negotiable.”
3) Ask for help
As we’ve already alluded to, nobody’s expecting you to swagger into the gym and instantly know how everything works.
Carly says: “Teachers help you to pass exams, driving instructors teach you to drive and hairdressers do your hair. So why is it that many of us step into a gym and risk injury and wasting our time by guessing something as important as what to do with our bodies? A good personal trainer will educate, support and help you push yourself beyond your limits. We’re here to help, just ask.”
4) Think about your nutrition
It’s become a bit of a cliché in the health and fitness world, but the fact remains that you really cannot workout on a bad diet.
Carly says: “Nutrition is 90% of the puzzle. You can work your butt off performing the perfect workout plan, using the best form and the most intensity but unless your nutrition is sound then you will not get anywhere. Training and nutrition go hand-in-hand. One cannot succeed without the other. It’s a bit like buying a car and forgetting to fuel it.”
5) Remember your water bottle
Before you get settled into a routine of going to the gym, there’s bound to be at least one item that you forget to pack. If you’re going to forget anything on your first day, make sure it’s not your water bottle!
Carly says: “Water is vital to ensure that you remain hydrated for the duration of your workout, to help with your performance and to save you from wasting precious time in the gym queuing for the water fountain. I add amino x to my water to help fuel my training & to add some flavour to my H20.”
6) Overdo the cardio
A lot of new gym-goers will head into January wanting to lose some weight, and they’ll naturally assume that running is the way to go. While any exercise is better than nothing, you shouldn’t throw all of your eggs in the cardio basket.
Carly says: “Cardio is often the ‘go to’ exercise of choice for gym newbies wanting to lose weight. However, cardio can damage your metabolism by burning your muscle as well as fat, leaving you in a worse position than when you started. Limit your cardio and work more effectively, not for longer. How many marathon runners or keen joggers have you seen and thought ‘wow they have an amazing body?’ None? Then why do you think it will work for you?”
7) Skip weight training
Last year, we created an infographic to show how long people stick to their New Year’s fitness resolutions for. 78% of the people we surveyed said they had failed to get into shape in the previous year, and a statistic provided by freedeliveryland.co.uk showed that January 24th is the most common day for New Year’s resolutions to be broken.
There are various myths about how long it takes to create a new habit – some say it takes 28 days whereas others believe it can take more than two months. Either way, it’s vital that you keep going. Don’t let the novelty of being fit and healthy wear off.
Carly says: “I will set this expectation for you before you even step foot in the gym. You will not get a cheerleader’s body or be able to bench press 50kg within a month of training, even if you do everything to a tee. You will progress if you are patient, consistent, willing to learn and just keep going.”
9) Stay in your comfort zone
Again, just because you’ve walked into the gym, it doesn’t mean you’re automatically going to smash your targets, least of all if you’re doing the same old routine day after day. You’ll inevitably hit a plateau, which is a natural sign that you need to mix things up a bit.
Carly says: “Be faithful to your partner, not your gym routine. Whether it’s from a lack of imagination or a misguided belief that ‘exercise is exercise’, or that ‘there’s only one way to lift a weight’ some people keep doing the same routine year-in and year-out.
“The body adapts to workouts whether they be weight workouts or aerobic workouts. That’s why there are so many fat gym-goers. They’ve done the same routine for years and their neurological system is so accustomed to it that it costs them little in calories or effort to complete the workout. Workouts should be recycled every four to six weeks for maximum effect.”
10) Guess or copy others
When you’re new, you’ll inevitably look towards others for inspiration, but remember that everyone’s body is different.
Carly says: “What works for one person will not always work for the next. There is also no way of knowing if the exercise the person opposite you is doing is correct or the best thing for you.”
So there you have it. 10 things you should and shouldn’t be doing when you visit the gym in January 2016. Why leave things until next month when you can sign up for a new gym membership today? Start as you mean to go on, and visit your local fitness club now – just remember to follow our expert tips!
This feature was first published on the DW Fitness Blog, for further information about DW Fitness Clubs please visit: www.dwfitnessclubs.com