I love working at a fitness facility. As you may have gathered from my blog over the years, I love just about anything to do with physical fitness. As a trainer, health coach, and running coach I spend a lot of time at the gym and over the past few weeks I have been taking note of a few things you should and shouldn’t be doing when you are there.
I know that for many people, going to a gym can be intimidating. I am often asked what the best rules are to follow. Some are written and some are just assumed. Let’s go over a few of the recent ones that I have come across.
Do wear athletic shoes. If I had a dollar for every time I saw a person walking around in just socks or flip flops, I would make a decent allowance. First of all, we do try to keep the fitness floor as clean as possible. But I recommend taking a moment to look around at how many sweaty people drip all over those floors. Second, take a moment to notice how many heavy things are carried around and how unobservant other members are. It only takes one small accident for a large weight or piece of equipment to land on your bare foot. Wear athletic shoes. They are made just for this type of facility and come in some rather fashionable styles too!
Do wear fitness clothes/Don’t wear swimwear. Fitness clothes serve a purpose as well. They protect certain areas of your body (hello chafing) and also keep certain areas of your body from showing. Swimsuits are meant for the pool or other bodies of water and are not meant to be used for exercise. They don’t necessarily keep you covered up and don’t guarantee that parts of your body will stay where they should be.
Don’t take on the world the moment you walk in the gym. There is no rule that says you must go 100% when you are at the gym. It is recommended that we get 30 minutes of cardiovascular activity in, three times per week. It is much better for you and your body to do 30 minutes of moderate activity than to run yourself ragged for 5 minutes. Whether you are trying to get into shape or lose weight, 30 minutes of moderate activity will reap far more benefits than a short burst of tough activity. You will likely enjoy yourself much more and find it easier to return to your workouts.
Do wear deodorant/wash your clothes. Maybe it is just my over active pregnant sense of smell but there’s a lot of funk going on in the gym these days. Sure we all sweat, and yes it can stink. But slap on some deodorant before you hit the elliptical. And for the love of Jane Fonda, please please please swap out your clothes between workouts. I have an acquaintance who comes in a few times each week and only makes the switch for laundry day. To say it is cringe worthy, is putting it very lightly.
Don’t compare yourself or avoid mirrors. I have so many clients who refuse to workout in front of mirrors. As an athlete who has spent far too many years criticizing my own body, I beg of you to please use mirrors to help make sure you are doing exercises properly. I can assure you that you are your toughest critic. Just as you are consumed with worry about your own appearance, so is 99% of the rest of the gym. No one is worrying about you because they are just as worried about themselves. Take a look in the mirror. Appreciate your body. By seeing yourself now, you will be able to truly notice the changes as you continue to exercise.
It’s your gym. Try everything and learn what you enjoy the most. I always encourage members to truly take advantage of their membership. Try everything. Ask if you aren’t sure how to use something. Try equipment that interests you. Take a class that sounds fun. Make the most of what you pay for.
What are your gym do’s and don’ts?