That first trip to a gym can be intimidating and it is often difficult to know how to behave, especially when the gym is full of trim and muscled individuals who seem to know exactly what’s going on. I can empathise as I felt the same the first time I entered a fitness centre.
If you’re struggling, there are a few tricks that should help you.

Choosing the right gym
Make sure the staff and members are friendly, the place is small enough to feel welcoming and that it looks clean and well-equipped. Join somewhere close to home or places you visit often — that way chances are you will know a lot of people already as you are familiar with the area.

Know the gym rules
While every gym is different, there are some general unwritten rules you should be aware of. Return equipment to where you got it from, don’t drop weights, wipe up your sweat, share the equipment and be pleasant to everyone.

Program and assessment
Once you join the gym make sure you get an assessment and program — that way someone will have shown you around the facilities and equipment so you will know the basics of what to do. This means you can approach pieces of equipment with more confidence and not stress about making obvious mistakes.

Group fitness
Find out what classes are on offer as they are a great way to have a fun workout and meet new people. Once you are attending regularly, if you have a day off it is guaranteed your new friends will wonder where you are.

Get a gym buddy
If a colleague regularly attends the gym, find out if they would mind you going with them. You could also try starting your new health and fitness regime with a friend, joining the gym together and keeping each other on track.

It’s important to remember what the purpose of a gym is. They are there for people to get fit and to stay fit, not a beauty pageant. Simply hold on to the fact that you are there to do something for yourself, to improve your health, and in no time going to the gym will feel comfortable and just another part of your life.

info: Paul Peroy is group fitness manager, Lifestyle Fitness Australia.

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