Stepping into the gym for the first time can be quite intimidating for some guys.

You step in, and first thing you see is a guy with 20+ inch arms pushing over 300 lbs on the bench press.

When it comes to the gym there’s a few things to keep in mind,

Choosing the right gym

There’s 3 main things to consider:

1. Convenience

How close is it to your place?  Having a gym close to your place is crucial for success.  If the gym is only a 5-10 minute drive away, it’s more likely that you’ll make it in for your workouts.  Also, you should check the hours of operation for the gym and make sure that it jives up well with your schedule.  I work shift work so my gym schedule can vary a lot from week to week, or even day to day.  If you join a gym that’s open 24 hours a day, you have no excuses. The gym is ALWAYS OPEN!

2.  Price

The cost of a gym membership also plays a huge role.  If you’re a little tight on cash, there’s plenty of gyms that offer great rates.  For example, Planet Fitness offers gym memberships for as low as $10 per month.

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If you go to university or college, it may already included in your tuition, and then it’s just a matter of getting there.  If you are a student and a gym membership is not included in your tuition, you can always look into student deals at a local gym.  Also, check at work to see if they have any fitness packages/deals.  Sometimes gyms will offer lower bi-weekly rates to companies than if you are just a “walk in” off the street.

3.  Type of gym

I’ve seen all kinds of different style gyms over the years.  Some gyms have a more “meathead” style with huge guys and roids pumping.  Some offer a more “studio” style with fitness classes and such.  Some facilities have a weight room, a pool/spa, and perhaps a basketball court, a tennis court, and a running track.  I have to say one of the nicest gyms I’ve ever been to was at the Florida Hospital in Celebration.  It’s definitely worth checking out if you’re in the area.

Gym Gear

As for what you should wear?  That’s entirely up to you.  For tops, you have the option of athletic tops, tank tops, or t-shirts.  I personally prefer athletic tops.  In fact, I consider Under Armour to be the highest quality workout gear on the market these days!  I have several Under Armour workout shirts so I can personally vouch for the quality.  I hang dry mine after they’re done in the wash instead of putting them in the dryer.

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I think the big thing with tops is to buy ones that fit well.  If you happen to be a little out of shape at the moment, it’s a bad idea to wear really tight tops as they will only amplify the appearance of the excess weight.  In this case, I recommend baggier tops.   If you’re already in good shape, there’s nothing wrong with wearing some tighter/fitted tops.  Whatever top you chose, you can often find great deals on discount racks of sporting and outlet stores.

For bottoms, some guys prefer shorts, whereas some prefer sweats or splash pants.

You should DEFINITELY get some gym shoes!  In fact, some gym owners would like to tear your head off if you were to walk in with muddy/dirty shoes on!  They don’t have to be expensive, just make sure they’re comfortable.  You can get a good pair in the $50 price range at an outlet store or on sale somewhere.  They’ll last a long time if you only wear them indoors at the gym.

reebok

(I personally prefer Reebok shoes and have had good luck with them over the years)

Accessories

Some guys like to use straps while performing certain lifts.  Some gyms have chalk on the house.  However, if you bring in your own, take it in a dish. This is a courtesy thing.  Do not spill chalk all over the gym floor or equipment.  Weight belts are an also option if you’re concerned about your back while performing heavier lifts.

The gym can be a great place to meet friends or even a woman

In case of meeting male friends, you already know that you have fitness as a shared common interest.  You can chit chat a bit here and there with some of the guys.  It’s really just a matter of being friendly.  “How’s your workout going?” After you get to know a few of them you can say something like, “Hey Mike, you, Billy and myself should go for a round of golf sometime/go grab a couple drinks this weekend/go grab a snack after our workout”

You may find that they invite you out if you seem like a good guy.  In fact, last year I was talking to a guy here and there at the gym and was trying to help him out a bit with work and the schooling he was taking.  I gave him so tips and we would casually small talk from time to time.  Anyhow, one night he texted me and asked me if I had Facebook.  I said I did and I thought he was going to ask me if he could add me on it.  However, he actually gave me the name of a girl he knew and said to check out her profile.  I did and she was gorgeous!  He said he knew her, knew she was single, and he thought I was the the kind of guy she’d like so he put in a good word for me. So being friendly and kind to others, and trying to help out when you can could potentially help out your romantic life as well.

Cold approaching at the gym can be a bit of a dicey thing.  I’ve had some luck with it before, but they were more of what you would call warm approaches.  The women were giving me very strong eye contact so it’s wasn’t completely random.  You’ll find that most people tend to go to the gym at the same time each day.  If this is the case, there’s no rush to get to know her.  You can just smile and slowly break the ice to see how she reacts.  The absolute last you want to do is be labeled as the “creep” at the gym.  This leads me to the next point,

 Don’t be a perv

I can’t believe I’m actually mentioning this, but it’s true.

“But, Mitchel, aren’t yoga pants God’s gift to men?”

Ok, you got me.  They are.  I’d be lying if I said I didn’t take a peak here and there.  How can you not at times?  In fact, at the gym I currently go to, it’s LOADED with gorgeous women.  That being said, it’s one thing to take a look, but another to stare and creep out women.  There’s no such thing as the “squat form inspector.”  Also, keep in mind that there’s a LOT of mirrors around.  Don’t be this guy….

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Workout buddy

Getting a workout partner is something you may want to consider.  Perhaps you and a friend from work or school have decided to give the “fitness thing” a shot.  Workout partners can help you stay motivated.  Be cautious about your training partner, though.  If they’re not very reliable or motivated, they may just drag you down.  I’ve had periods where I’ve had training partners, and periods where I haven’t.  With my current work schedule, it’s not a viable option for me to have a training partner.

Be courteous to those around you

If you add some weight to a bar or machine, unload it afterwords.  It’s very bad gym etiquette to not put your weights away.  The next person using the equipment will have to unload them.  Also, it can lead to some confusion as others will be wondering if you or someone else is still using the equipment.  If you suspect someone is using a piece of equipment, ask them if you can hop in or if they are done rather than just barge in.  Also, make sure to wipe down your equipment once finished.

Relax and have fun!

Chill out, bro!

I’ll let you in on a little secret,

NO ONE REALLY CARES WHAT YOU ARE DOING AT THE GYM!

I have NEVER heard anyone say, “Look at that loser over there that’s out of shape and can barely lift a thing”  You’ll often find that the “regulars” are quite focused on their own workouts.  Don’t be scared to ask a member for a spot or a staff member about something on your workout plan if you’re not sure about it.  You’ll find that most people are quite helpful.  Enjoy yourself at the gym and make it a place you regularly visit :)