It’s that time of year again – the time when those of us who need to lose a few pounds, start to imagine what we are going to look like at the beach. The meer thought of unveiling our less than perfect bodies for all to see makes us cringe, and then it makes us think about what can be done before it heats up.
But being self-conscious about ones looks can cause problems before we even get to the beach, and many people are too hung up on how they look to even set foot in a health club. Maybe it’s the fear of being the fattest person in the room, or perhaps it is just a case of not knowing health club protocol. Or maybe you have never belonged to gym and are unsure of how to use the machines.
Well you can stop worrying! We’ve compiled a list of things that will take the anxiety out of working out, so you can have a positive health club experience and get that body ready for the beach.
Step 1 – choosing a health club
Just the thought of picking a club can be very intimidating, and a lot of them have high-pressure sales staff waiting to pounce when you walk in the door. To avoid that uncomfortable haranguing, follow these steps:
Call first. Rather than going in the door and exposing yourself to the stares of all the members, call and get the info on the phone. Ask about rates, if they have a free trial period, and when the least busy times are. You can then make a list and decide who has the best offer, and then pick the gym(s) you want to visit in person.
Co-Ed or same sex? There are a lot of female only clubs out there, and even a few for men. They usually offer the same level of service, but there are a lot of women out there who do not want to be hit on when they come to a club. That being said, if you are looking to meet someone, then make sure you check out a large co-ed facility. Smaller gyms tend to have more men, and women are more comfortable when they are not alone.
New vs. Old. There are some gyms that have been around for years, and they have the equipment and odor to prove it. The older gyms tend to be less expensive and usually cater to a more serious crowd. Newer gyms have better, state of the art equipment, and the clientele tends to be more transient. That is they will show up for a year, and then drop out of sight.
Step 2 – what to wear
Although this may not be a huge issue for some, others take it very seriously. You have to decide what is right for you, but here are some tips:
Keep it clean! Nobody likes to work out beside someone who wears the same shirt and shorts everyday. The classic aroma of old sweat and BO will not improve your chances with the ladies, no matter how buff you are.
Workout outfits are not needed. There are those who will buy fancy, hi-tech clothing for running, but you don’t need it at the gym. A t-shirt and shorts is all you need. It is up to the individual to decide how cool the shirt and shorts have to be, and if they ‘match’ – all the better.
Shoes. Nothing crazy or super hi-tech is needed for the gym, but dirty, beat-up runners that look like crap say something about the person who is wearing them. Try and strike a balance by wearing cross-trainers that have been worn more than once, since you don’t want everyone to think this is your first day.
Step 3 – at the gym
You have two choices to make: 1) changing and showering at the gym or 2) changing and showering at home. There is no shame in doing either one, but if you shower and change at the gym you need to pack your own soap, as well as all post-shower products. You may also need a towel and want to opt for shower sandals. Plus, when you do all this at they gym, you will increase your laundry needs dramatically. Here are some other pointers:
Learn what to do. Most clubs will offer new members some free health program consultations. Take advantage of these sessions and get them to give you a good routine. They may try and sign you for some personal training, but you really don’t need it. Half the time health club professionals are sitting around bored, so once a month just ask them to give you a few ideas to change up your old routine. If you are friendly, they will help you out.
Don’t be intimidated. Everybody had to walk through that door for their first time at some point, and no one is born with a buff body.
Learn the protocol. Most gyms require you to wipe down equipment after you use it, so make sure you do. You should also re-rack weights, and let people work in with you when you are on a machine. You should also help ‘spot’ someone when they ask, and don’t be afraid to ask someone to spot you when you need it.
Go slow until you are in the groove. More often than not, everybody starts at a gym and wants to lose weight or build muscle that day. The fact is it takes time, so be patient. If you move too quickly, you will end up injuring yourself, which might spell the end of your workouts.
Stretch. A classic mistake is forgetting to stretch before and after your workout. You should also warm-up before you start, and cool down when you are done – especially for cardio.
Sign up for cardio machines. A lot of clubs require you to sign in for cardio machines, with most offering 30-minute maximums during peak times. Sign up when you walk in the door, then go and change.
Flirting. Trying to hook-up at the gym is okay, but be careful you don’t offend anyone. Some women take great offence to being hit on at a place they are paying to belong to, so don’t be too aggressive. You just might get your membership suspended.
Step 4 – have fun!
You should never feel intimidated about trying to get into better shape. There will always be someone at the gym that looks better than you, so getting discouraged about your flab will do you no good. After you have gone a few times you will realize the truth about most health clubs – everyone is there to get into shape, just like you. So why worry?