Going to the gym for the first time can be a daunting experience. Paranoia can strike and you may feel like everyone is watching you. If you're looking to join a gym for the first time, there is some preparation you must undertake to help you settle in a new environment.
Do not feel intimidated
Firstly you must remember that everybody at the gym, no matter how big or small, are all there for the same reason - and that is to improve their bodies or fitness levels in some way, shape or form.
It doesn't matter how fit or muscular some attendees are, they all started somewhere, and you must take this into account when feeling intimidated by more experienced gym-goers. There is a mutual respect for everybody taking time out of their lives for positive results.
If you are unsure of how a machine operates or need spotting, just ask. Nobody is there to bite your head off and most will genuinely be happy to assist.
Instead of digging out your old PE kit, it might be a good idea to buy some appropriate clothing, there are plenty of places and brands out there which cater to your budget so it doesn't have to be an expensive experience.
Throughout the summer, simple shorts, a t-shirt and a pair of trainers will be sufficient. Over the winter it may be a worth investing in a couple of hoodies/sweatshirts, and if you're brave, get the tights out, but remember to wear shorts over the top, unless you're Simeon Panda.
Layering up over the winter is good practice as it also assists with keeping your joints warm to a certain extent.
Set a goal
It is always a good idea to set a goal in anything you do, it motivates you and ensures you stay on track. Make sure that it is a realistic one and do not expect insane results overnight - or you will be hugely disappointed. At the same time, it is important that it is challenging enough that it excites and stretches you out of a comfort zone.
Understand how to achieve your goal
Having a goal is one thing, but knowing how to achieve it is another. If you know how to achieve your goal, you will have a basic understanding of what is required, in terms of both training and nutrition. Unless you're planning on getting a personal trainer, a cost-effective solution would be to do your research on YouTube.
There are great channels out there that offer information which is useful for both beginners and advanced athletes. Find who you like, feel you can trust and also make sure you qualify that belief through something tangible.
Assess your nutrition
MyFitnessPal is a great app which allows you to track your macronutrient intake (Protein, Carbs and Fat). Track your intake for a while and if you find its too high, take the appropriate steps to reduce it, this may be something simple such as swapping the coke for a diet coke, or blue milk to red milk. A good understanding of nutrition is essential as diet and training work hand in hand.
Also make sure you are consuming adequate micronutrients, which offer health benefits and potential performance benefits.
Taking progress photos and tracking your body weight is a great way to ensure your progress is consistent and can also be motivating. It is something to look back on down the line and allows you to visualise clear improvement.
Ensure you have time
Don't be one of those people who join the gym on New Year's Day, only to cancel their membership 2 months later. If you are joining the gym, understand its a long-term commitment and plan your availability to ensure you can maintain a routine which will lead to you achieving your goals.