I just read an awesome Facebook post from a friend who was fired up about a pair of lunks in the gym who scattered their free weights all over the floor and lounged around the equipment, gabbing about their protein shakes and (grunt) how many reps they just did. But since I know you’re not those guys, let me share a few other tips to help you survive the gym, ‘cause it’s a jungle out there.
1. Little known fact but, there is a thing called “Gym Science.” Don’t do it, or use it! “What is Gym Science,” you say? Ever see someone in the gym doing something that looks REALLY COOL, I mean super cool and you just gotta try it? That, my friend, is “Gym Science.” Often times, a member reads about an exercise, sees it on YouTube or in magazine and decides to try it because it’s the best thing to get your (insert muscle group here) the biggest and best in the shortest amount of time. Who knows where that member learned the exercise from or why they are doing it. More often than not, their goals are not your goals and they very well could be doing the exercise all wrong. In short, don’t be a lemming.
2. Don’t hire a personal trainer! Wait, what?! Well, that’s not quite what I am getting at. I mean don’t go into a gym and buy personal training sessions and let the sales person just schedule you with anyone. It is your hard-earned money and you should be able to meet with the trainer before you have to give up one of your precious sessions just to find out you know more about the gym than they do. Ask for credentials, certifications, how long have they been training, types of clients they usually work with. If you have the time, watch that trainer on the floor with other clients to see their style and make sure it fits with your personality.
3. Ooh, supplements that you just need to take that everyone in the gym is taking to melt fat fast or give you the sought after 6-pack of abs before swimsuit season. Steer clear, and stay safe. Are there good supplements out there? Absolutely, but what does the front desk girl really know about supps when she is up there popping her gum and eating a Big Mac in front you? Do your research and talk to a dietician, nutritionist or other fitness professional you trust about feeding your body chemical supplements just to reach a goal. Ask yourself, is it really worth it? I don’t know about you, but I never remember to take supplements that MUST be taken 30 minutes before a meal to be effective. Blah! Just eat a better meal!
4. Don’t go into a gym blind. Have a plan of attack with you. What are you going to do for the day? What type of workout is going to give you the results you seek? What are you going to do if all the equipment you need is being used? Listen, if you’ve ever gone to any gym at 6 p.m. on a weekday, well, it’s like a bunch of bunnies darting about trying to get the last carrot on Easter morning. Have a contingency plan, such as, if you cannot get the cable machine, grab some dumbbells and switch things up. Don’t be afraid of the weights, especially the heavier ones. Go up a few pounds if your normal 5lb weights are not available – Jeez it’s probably time to increase anyway.
5. Don’t sit down! For heaven’s sake, chances are your job has you sitting most of the day anyway. Try to do as many exercises standing up as you can. Functional, multi-joint exercises will give you the best bang for your time. The machines you see in there give you the WOW factor but really, you’re at the gym to work out so get off your duff and get movin’.
6. Don’t go to the gym 7 days a week, even if you are trying to lose a substantial amount of weight. Your body needs time to rest and recover. When you are working out, you are adding stress to your body. No, no, no that doesn’t mean exercise is a bad thing. But, it is a stressor and we need down time. Choose a day or two to take a walk or do some easy light stretching. Catch up on a good book or much needed sleep.
7. Similar to Number 6; don’t spend all day in the gym. We’ve all seen that person! You know, the one that was on the treadmill when you walked in, was on the bike while you were doing cardio, then lifted, then back to the rowing machine and then into the yoga class. Get in and get done. More is not always better and in this situation you could be hindering your results.
Oops thought of another one, we’ll call it a bonus number 8 – Don’t buy a gym membership. Wait, what— again? Okay, let me rephrase this: know what you are purchasing and make sure you have someone to help you along the way. All too often, new members come into a gym, think New Year’s resolutions, and start off strong in the beginning of the year. Then, they get injured, over train, lose interest, don’t see results, this list goes on and on.
Before you spring for the “All Club Membership,” have a game plan: see Number 4. Make sure the gym is somewhere you want to spend several hours a week. You should feel comfortable with the staff and other members. More people see results when they continue to come to an atmosphere that is like a community. Have you noticed how many small fitness studios are opening? They offer new members a community feel and they notice when you are not there, call to check on you and give you motivation when needed. More than anything, you are valued at their studio and have a name, not just another EFT.