How to Start Working Out (at the Gym)

Two and a half years ago I could barely do a single sad push up. I definitely couldn’t do a single chin up or pull up. I could barely press the Olympic bar, and I got winded walking up stairs. The improvements in my strength and endurance didn’t happen over night. They happened as a result of over 600+ gym sessions. I know starting can be scary, but the fact is everyone at the gym started as a beginner. They might not even have started at the gym!

Watch the full video on how I started working out at the bottom.

How I started

Before I even started going to the gym seriously I worked out at home! I worked out at home for 12 weeks. I bought a couple dumbells, a mat and a kettle bell and got to work (I bought my barbell and step up boxes later). I got in a lot of killer workouts at home using Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide. It helped me lose some weight and more importantly improve my health and stamina. Slowly I started going to the gym with Vitali. Well, kinda. I went to the gym with him but I’d just go into the gymnasium area and drag everything I needed for BBG the and just workout there. But since my workouts were also so much shorter I would loiter in the actual workout area for a bit and watch people, try some things out. I basically learned it wasn’t as scary as I thought it was. There were lots of people there struggling, watching videos and working with trainers. It made me feel a lot better knowing other people were also learning.

So after 12 weeks a home, I did 12 weeks at the gym (doing BBG) and doing an occasional workout. For my final round of BBG I was doing one BBG workout and then one 45-60 minute weight session. In hindsight it was a little bit too much, but that’s all part of the learning curve. Also, starting with BBG each day gave me the confidence I needed because I felt competent doing it.

Full

Your excuses aren’t valid

I realize how harsh that sounds but, it’s also generally true. You absolutely do not need to go to a gym, fancy workout clothes or costly supplements to get in shape. You can workout at home, in your garage, your backyard, the park, anywhere! You can workout in old clothes, sweatpants or naked. You can get your nutrients and protein from whole foods instead of spending money on protein powder, BCCAAs and creatine. It simply takes some creativity and commitment. Apart from health reasons, surgery or because your health practitioner recommended against certain movements/exercises, there are very very very few good reasons why you can’t make a change today.

“Gym’s are so expensive.” Okay, then workout at home. Turn on Youtube or do some research to find a simple but effective plyometric workout or equipment free workout you can do at home, outside or at the gym. There are literally 1000s of free workouts online! If you want to invest in one, my dear friend Katie Crewe put together a 12 week home guide with bodyweight exercises.

“I don’t have time.” Alright, I get it, you’re busy. But if you have time to watch tv, check social media or read this, you’ve got time! Aim for 15 minutes of physical activity. 15 minutes can add up quickly! 15 minutes of skipping, jogging, HIIT, biking, walking! Want something done, ask the busiest person. I know mom’s with 4+ kids who work full time, cook, clean and find the time to workout. Remember, your health is important. You can only give so much and do so much for other people if you don’t take care of yourself. Making your health a priority is also a great way to positively influence those around you. So schedule in a 15 minute workout like an appointment you can’t skip and get it done! Remember working out is a great de-stressor, gives you more energy and helps you sleep oh so well!

“I don’t know where to start!” Keep reading below for more tips. But at the end of the day remember the internet and Google are your friend!

I realize that working out in a “real gym” in front of other humans can be completely terrifying. You’re thinking,

“Everyone will know I don’t know what i’m doing.”

“People will see how weak I am.”

“What if I make a mistake?”

“What if people stare?”

“But I don’t look like the girls on social media!”

I’m going to give you a piece of advice in the form of tough love. If you’re average joe (like me!), no one is going to hold your hand and walk you through every single exercise or piece of equipment. No one is going to stand beside you cheering you on and asking if you’re doing alright. So, if you’re tried of standing in front of all that damn equipment thinking wtf now welcome to the real world. Everyone who loves lifting has stood in your shoes thinking exactly those things. Just remember people don’t go to the gym to make fun of others. They go there to workout. Keep reading for tips and what to do and not do at the gym!

Tips on Getting Comfortable at the Gym

  • If you have the means, higher a trainer for a couple sessions to help you get acquainted with things. Make sure that you find a reputable trainer. I see plenty of trainers at the gym who make their clients do unnecessarily difficult exercises. There is no shame in starting with the basics. In fact, the basics are key to success!
  • Some gym memberships come with 1-2 complimentary sessions with a trainer. Take advantage of them if you can!
  • Remember to start where you’re at and don’t make it a comparison game. Just because your friend can run 5 km or lift 50 pounds doesn’t mean you need to be doing the same. Train in a way that excites you, gives you confidence and you can do safely and for long term.
  • Know someone that lifts? Talk to them? Ask them to take you. Ask to train with them once or twice a week. Most people who love working out love nothing more than sharing what they do.
  • If you think it’ll help, find a women’s only gym 🙂
  • Review your workout before you go to the gym. Watch videos of exercise you’re unsure about before you get there. You can review them once you’re there, but knowing what to expect can relieve a lot of anxiety.
  • Watch lots of videos, of trusted lifters/trainers. I watch a video at the gym at least twice a week to check my form or if I’m unsure about trying a new exercise.
  • Already at the gym? Ask someone there. Most people at the gym have RBFaces (I know I do) but that’s normally where it ends. Gym goers are normally happy to help.
  • Take a class! A lot of gyms offer complimentary classes for members. Taking a class can expose you to certain movements and give you the opportunity to ask for help and make friends!
  • If something hurts don’t do it. Start with light weights.
  • Wear something that’s comfortable. Functionality is key! Nothing makes you more self conscious than wearing clothes that are sheer, move around or could be worn at a peep show! You want to be able to squat and know your leggings aren’t see through so make sure to test them at home.

Programs I’ve Done

I personally recommend finding a good program and following that. I personally love @katiecrewe  workout guides. I’m currently doing one. and it is full of so much information! She’s done custom programs for me in the past and I always got the best results and strength gains. Her guide also has tons of easy to follow illustrations and breakdowns of how to perform exercises safely. I literally am always referring back to her explanations to make sure i’m performing each exercise correctly when doing new ones.

Jamie Eason

Hannah Eden

Jim Stoppani

YouTube also has a lot of great workouts too!

They use to all be on BodyBuilding.com which now has a pay wall. However, with a little searching you can find free copies of these PDFs (because they were free for so many years!)

Important Gym Etiquette

  • clean up after yourself, wipe down equipment (bring a towel)
  • avoid making a lot of noise, grunting
  • follow the rules for cardio equipment (time limits)
  • chat/socialize within reason and get off equipment people are waiting for if you’re going to do this
  • setting a timer between sets can be useful so you don’t get lost on social media or doing anything else but actually working out
  • you don’t have to pile the make up on, sweating will help clearing out your pores
  • don’t stare at people
  • re-rack your weights
  • wash your hands after!
  • don’t give people unsolicited advice
  • don’t stand in front of the mirror if someone working out behind you, they might be using the mirror to watch their form


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