Joining a gym for the first time is both an exciting and intimidating experience.
On one hand, you’re eager to begin a new exercise routine and tackle your fitness goals. On the other, with a new environment that feels unfamiliar and equipment that you’re not sure how to use, you may also feel overwhelmed and unsure of where to start.
There’s no need to let your nerves get the best of you, though. If you remind yourself of the simple fact that everyone was a beginner at some point, kick-starting your gym habit for the first time won’t seem like such a big deal. In no time you’ll be one of the regulars, too.
But, before you get started there are a few common mistakes you should take extra care to avoid.
To find out which mistakes first-time gym members are most notorious for making, I sought out insight from two industry experts: Dustin Martin, co-owner & instructor at Barry’s Bootcamp Boston and Ed Halper, M. Ed., Certified Personal Trainer and proprietor of Mountain Fitness in Warren, New Jersey.
These are the fitness-first-timer mistakes they say you should absolutely avoid.
Don’t: Set your expectations too high.
Put simply, be aware of the fact that achieving your new fitness goals, especially if you’re just starting out for the first time, is going to take time. You won’t transform overnight, so be realistic about what you’re setting out to achieve. As Martin notes, you may not see any significant changes over the first few weeks, but don’t let a lack of visible progress deflate your motivation. Similarly, don’t expect to overhaul all of your bad habits at once. Slowly integrate new practices (like exercising three days each week or incorporating a serving of vegetables in one meal each day) one at a time instead going to extremes, like vowing to exercise every single day and eat only salad.
Don’t: Start without a plan.
“A steady and consistent workout plan and diet are much more effective than extremes,” says Martin. “Find a workout facility that is convenient to your home or work, and plan your meals ahead of time. Stock your pantry and fridge with healthy options. Plan your weeks and workouts ahead of time.”