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Getting Started: The Beginners Guide To The Gym

Introduction

This mini e-book was inspired by a younger version of myself and many of the clients that I have worked with over the span of my career as a personal trainer. On a regular basis I meet new members who are being introduced into the gym who are scared, nervous, intimidated, uncertain, and just lacking confidence in this bright, new environment that they have walked themselves into. I can relate to this whole sensation myself as I still remember the first day that I set out to get my first gym membership. I had NO FREAKING CLUE, what I was doing and the guy at the front desk could have sold me a mule I was so nervous. Upper and lower cross syndrome refer to a series of muscle imbalances within the body. It is possible to have one or the other (upper or lower), but it is also not uncommon that one can lead to developing the other as well. The human body is comprised of many different organs, tissues and structural components. Upper cross syndrome (UCS) or lower cross syndrome (LCS) effect the muscular and skeletal systems of the body causing muscle imbalances that result in poor posture, muscle aches and pains, reduced mobility and distorted movement mechanics.
Fast track forwards a decade and I now take new members under my wing and begin teaching them the ropes and what they will need to be successful. This e-book will outline everything you should be considering while embarking on this super awesome and exciting new journey to achieving your fitness goals and being the best version of you possible. You are in the right spot, trust me!

Chapter 1 – Getting Started

Getting started with resistance training can be an intimidating and daunting experience, particularly if you have never done it or had any guidance on how to do this. Just making that first step of driving to the gym and walking in the front doors can be a task that many people attempt many times before gathering up the confidence to enter the gym and approach the front desk to inquire about a membership.

For many, getting started at the gym is a decision that has been put on the back burner several times prior. “Everybody at the gym knows what they are doing and are all SO fit!”, does this sound familiar? “How will I even know where to start or how to do anything once I get in there. Surely everyone will be watching and judging me!”. Trust me – you are not the only one to ever feel this way. I would guarantee that nearly every single person who “knows what they are doing” in the gym had to start somewhere and could have easily been in your same shoes at the beginning of their journey.

 

Chapter 2 – The First Step

“OK, I got this!”, There you go – take that first step with confidence. Go ahead and talk to one of the friendly front desk associates, tell them you have never been in before and that you are considering a membership. See, that wasn’t so bad. Picking the right gym for you is important. Make sure that you take a moment to look at what is going on around you; look at the types of people that are that there, if it seems busy, what does your membership get you (i.e. access to classes or other amenities). Remember, this is a place you want to feel welcome and comfortable in. Finally, wear whatever makes you comfortable – seriously, nobody is paying attention to that.
Once you have decided on the right gym for you, proceed with getting a membership. If you have the opportunity to have a personal trainer or another associate demonstrate how to use any of the equipment, do it. This is a great way to not only begin building a friendly rapport with a staff member. It will also provide you with some guidance when you come in for your first workout on your own, so you will not feel overwhelmed or uncertain where to go. If the gym you select provides any other complimentary services such as consultations / goal setting with a trainer or demos of team training or group exercise classes, again, take this opportunity.

Chapter 3 – Appreciate The Process

Okay, so now you have been welcomed into your gym. You have gone through the induction process and have been shown your way around and picked up some tips from associates you have crossed paths with. You are all ready to go hit the weights, right? Well, take it one step at a time. The gym is a great place for anybody to come to work towards establishing habits that will lead them to long-term success on their fitness journey. Appreciating what you will be doing and having a plan will be an important aspect of ensuring you not only progress in an appropriate fashion, but may also reduce the risk of unnecessary injuries. If there are exercises you would like to perform that you have never experienced or seem complicated – now is there perfect time to ask. Understanding the basics early on is critical.
Going into a workout with no understanding of movements can lead to injuries, imbalance and improper movement patterns which can cause issues down the road. Take some time to do a little research on the proper technique required to do the exercises you wish to do or inquire with a personal trainer in the gym about getting some assistance. Personal trainers are qualified and trained professionals who can get you set on your path to success in the most effective and efficient path possible. Just like you would go to a dentist if you had a toothache, personal trainers are the go-to professionals who understand how the body moves and how to safely exercise.

Chapter 4 – Practise, Practise, Practise

Alright. Now you have some understanding of the movements you wish to do and how these movements will benefit you and your fitness goals. “Time to hit those weight!”. I know this feeling, the feeling of undeniable excitement and motivation to chase your goals – I too was once in your shoes. However, now that you have a general understanding of the movements you will be performing, the next seemingly logical thing is to jump right in and begin hitting the weights. “Patience, young grasshopper – I promise you, you are nearly there!”
Every single time you approach an exercise you are going to perform, think about what it is you need to do: how will you set yourself up, how will that feel, what muscles or sections of body are you working during the movement, can you envision yourself performing this exercise? These are all valuable considerations to make before diving right into it. If this is an exercise that you can perform a bodyweight version of, go ahead – give this variation of the exercise a try first. How did it feel for you? Did you feel stable and balanced? Did right side feel the same as your left side? Was it pain-free? If your answer was anything other then “Good” or “Heck yes!” then there is some opportunity here to improve your knowledge of the exercise or gain mobility to allow for a smoother experience. If, and only if, you performed the movement and everything felt great should you then venture into adding a little bit of resistance to the movement.

Chapter 5 – Quality over Quantity

When you first approach with an exercise, start easy with a light weight, and again, perform the same movement in a slow, controlled, and stable fashion. This should elicit a similar response from your body but just slightly more difficult due to the added resistance. Gradual and progressive increments of the weight you are selecting with quality form will lead you to being more successful. Always remember, QUALITY over QUANTITY. Pro tip – your body does not, I repeat, does not know how much weight you are lifting or how many reps you have done. Your body responds to the physical stressor of you lifting something repetitively by physiologically signalling the brain that some adaptations will be required if this becomes a consistent stimulus put on the body.
When you get comfortable with a weight and you feel like you can likely increase the weight, I have a challenge for you. Perform your next set and try to perform the same amount of reps, but instead of plowing on through the reps – slow down every rep. During the lowering phase of the movement, try counting to 4 (full) seconds in your head. If you did this appropriately and by the end of your set you feel as if it is still not challenging, then this is an appropriate time to gradually make an increase in your weight selection for this exercise.
Reducing the speed of an exercise inevitably increases the amount of time that your muscles are under tension. This technique of slowing down will not only ensure that you have the strength, control and stability required to increase the weight but also is a way to really send a strong signal to your brain that it needs to adapt and build new muscle. Look at you go – you are already miles ahead of the average gym-goer who hastily jumped into their routine with no rhyme or rhythm to what they were doing.

Chapter 6 – Gaining momentum

You will begin to gain momentum with all exercises. Apply these same considerations to each new exercise you add to your routine. Remember, if something does not feel right or you are uncertain about something – ASK! Although the initial feeling of being an outsider or newbie in the gym may be daunting, the absolute truth is that everyone started somewhere and likely if they are in the gym, they too are working on some type of fitness goal themselves. The average gym-goer is just a more experienced version of you and if you went and asked them for some advice, they would be happy to help. Or take the sure thing and talk to a personal trainer – it is their job and they would be elated to be able to help teach you something that would help.
Building confidence, feeling good and having more energy are just a few of the many amazing benefits of beginning with a healthy routine at the gym. Everyone’s “WHY” that got them to walk in the front door and begin their journey is different, and the goals that everyone are working towards vary. The gym is a wonderful place to go and connect with like minded people. Be friendly and considerate of everyone and in return you will build many strong relationships with all walks of life which could lead to long-term friendships, business partners or even life partners. There is so much to learn from the gym and the people in it everyday. Always remember to stay true to your goals, remember why you got started and most importantly, stay humble. One day you may have a “newbie” asking you for advice!

Chapter 7 - Closing

Thank you so much taking the time to join me in this moment to initiate into your fitness journey. It has always been such a rewarding sensation to be able to play a role in others journey, watching them learn and grow.
Celebrating successes and overcoming challenges. The happiness and joy that fills me every time a client or member comes to me and tells me about their successes they have achieved outside of the gym due to their continued efforts within the gym in indescribable. I have seen people overcome many difficult adversities in their personal lives, their careers, or families, but to have them attribute their resiliency to skills, habits, and techniques which we have learned in the gym is truly amazing.
For you, I hope you always remember the details in this book and always know that you can refer to this at any time you feel like fallen off track. The key principles of success in the gym never change regardless of how long you have been working out for. And remember, stay humble – there is always something more that you can learn!
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Scott Shaheen Personal Training

861 Warwick Street, Woodstock

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