Working as a fitness professional I have witnessed, first hand, the present day soar in gym memberships. Whether it be a future sporting wannabe, weekend warriors, Doris from weight watchers or average Joe who considers himself the next Arnie, more and more people are investing their time and money into creating better versions of themselves.
However, for many of these ‘newbies,’ walking into the gym for the first time can be a daunting experience. This feeling of entering the unknown can be bad enough, without the possibility of standing out like a sore thumb by being guilty of committing one or more of the following gym crimes.
The Headless Chicken
Many gym newbies wander around the gym aimlessly like a headless chicken, looking confused and wondering whether they need a PhD in rocket science to switch on the treadmill. They arrive with no plan of attack, no goals, and no structure or guidance: all of these are complete necessities if you want to get the most out of your gym time. Firstly set yourself some realistic and specific goals and then seek guidance from qualified professionals who will help structure a programme best suited to yourself. Just because a gym is littered with lots of different machines and contraptions doesn’t mean you must use every single one of them every time you enter the building. Use only the equipment that will benefit you the most and train specifically to your goal or sport. For instance, if rugby performance is your aim, do not go and train like a bodybuilder just because you like the idea of having big guns!
All the Gear, No idea
Unfortunately, it’s not only beginners who can be found guilty of this one. I see many ‘experienced know it all’s’ who train daily but possess a complete lack of basic knowledge regarding technique, form and intensity. And just because you have seen some Popeye type creature using things like lifting belts, straps and chalk doesn’t mean you have to walk into the gym wearing all the above...especially if the only thing you’re going to lift is your water bottle! These accessories have their uses to experienced lifters but probably not to a newbie. Most gyms offer a free induction so why not take advantage of it and learn how to use things, and most importantly…Why.
Jumping in at the Deep End
The most common crime I see (especially amongst the younger generation): jumping straight in at the deep end without first even learning how to swim and training their ego rather than their muscles. I don’t know whether it’s arrogance or the dread of embarrassment but I have witnessed newbies walking straight over to the bench press or squat rack and attempt to lift more than their own body weight on their first rep, without even contemplating any form of warm up! I don’t know about you but I would much rather lift next to nothing and look sensible rather than being flat on my back or being choked by a barbell as you are renamed by all as the new ‘gym clown.’
Fearing the Gym
People are afraid of change, so it’s understandable that newbies may initially fear this brand new environment, especially if they are self-conscious and have a tendency to feel embarrassed. However, it’s important to understand that everybody is there for the same reasons, and remember that everyone was a newbie at one stage. As harsh as it may sound, nobody else cares what you are doing and nobody is watching you (providing you are not being one of the ‘gym clowns’ that we previously spoke about…in which case I am sorry but you deserve all that comes your way!)
At the end of the day you’re spending your hard earned cash on your membership so make sure you are getting the most out of it. Don’t be afraid to admit your lack of knowledge – be confident and eager to learn – ask the advice of as many instructors or fellow members as possible. You’ll reap the benefits.
Disrespecting Gym Etiquette
One huge MUST in a gym is respect. Respecting equipment as if it were your own and respecting and treating others as you would expect to be treated yourself. There is no bigger crime than newcomers (and regular members for that matter) failing to put back their weights after use. If you’re big and strong enough to remove the 40kg dumbbells from the rack, then you’re certainly strong enough to put them back.
Also if you have the tendency to sweat like a pig in the heat, be sure to always carry a towel or use the readily available tissue to wipe down the machines once finished.
Being a ‘Socialite’
Last but not least is my biggest personal pet hate when it comes to newbie habits. It is great that you have made the commitment to get active…but please ensure that you are arriving with the correct intentions – to train hard, rip in and go home content that you have pushed yourself to your limit. This does not include training your fingers on your phone, or your jaw or voice box as you attempt to throw your finest (or cringey!) chat up lines to the yoga instructor. There is a time and a place – the gym is certainly not that and sweat-working is not a thing.
Want to impress?
Then earn the respect. Become knowledgeable, choose your destination and learn how to get there. A great informative place to start is right here at Everything4Rugby. Check out all of the performance and coaching articles written daily by our experts.