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You’ve just signed up for a gym membership. Now what? It’s important to understand the equipment, the gym’s policies, and your own needs. Here are six tips to help you get into the groove of your workout after joining a new gym.

One: Set Your Goal

It’s important to have a goal in mind when going to the gym. Do you want to lose 20 pounds? Do you want to be able to run a marathon? Do you just want to be more healthy? Setting a goal will not only keep you going back to the gym on a regular schedule, but it will also be the basis for which exercises, equipment, and workouts you undertake.

When planning your fitness goals, be sure to set two different ones: a short-term and a long-term goal. Your short-term goal might be something like increasing the number of push-ups you can do while a long-term goal may be dead-lifting 200 lbs.

Two: Make the Most of Your Induction

When you first arrive at the gym, you may want to immediately jump on a treadmill or start lifting. You came to work out, right? However, if you skip out on your induction, you’ll miss out on time with a qualified trainer.

Arrive on your first day with a mental list of questions to ask that will help you achieve your goals. For instance, if you have a knee injury, ask which exercises won’t aggravate it. If you want to run a marathon, ask which exercises build stamina and so you can reach that goal.

Always ask for a tour of the gym to start. If there are machines that you’re unfamiliar with, ask how they work and what muscles they help build. If you don’t know where something is kept, the resistance bands, for instance, then ask. Be open to learning on your first day and set aside extra time at the gym if you plan to get a full workout in, as well.

plan work out

Three: Plan Your Workout

Once you know what all is available, you’ll want to make a plan for your workout. Gyms today are large and have a lot of equipment available. It’s easy to become overwhelmed and jump from machine to machine without ever really accomplishing anything. Set up a plan detailing how much time or how many reps you’ll spend at each station, so you know that you’re making progress from day one.

Four: Take Your Time

Don’t push yourself when starting out at a new gym. Perhaps last time you had a gym membership, you could run at 5 mph for an hour, but you haven’t been to a gym in over a year. Start slow to prevent the risk of injury. For each exercise, whether new to you or not, take your time and slowly work your way into it until you get the hang of the exercise. Also, be sure to warm up and cool down before and after each session so that your body is ready to take on those weights or that treadmill.

Five: Focus on You

While you may feel self-conscious as you go through your gym routine, don’t. Other gym-goers are only focusing on their own workouts, and you should only be concerned about yours. That means, don’t push too hard, because you think that the person beside you is silently judging your progress. Turn up your music, jam to a great playlist, and forget about everyone else. Just focus on your own workout.

Progress Workout

Six: Track Your Progress

It’s really important to track your progress as you continue your regular workouts. Monitor your body fat, BMI, and body measurements from week to week and note the changes that your exercise program has caused. Also, look back on your short-term and long-term goals and compare how you started out with how far you’ve come. Are you getting close to your goal? Have you already reached it? If so, set a new one!

Finding Success

Starting a new gym does not have to be stressful or scary. Remember, you aren’t in this alone. The staff at the gym is always available to help you with your workouts and to answer any questions you have. If you know the right steps to take, you’ll have the knowledge you need to handle any piece of equipment, and you’ll set yourself up for success with maintainable goals.

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