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Let’s be honest, we’ve all been secretly pleased that gyms have been closed and we no longer have that pressure to go and get ‘beach ready’. However, all over the world gyms are beginning to open again and they do provide a varied and efficient way to burn off some energy, tone up and feel good about ourselves. If you are nervous about stepping foot into a gym for the first time, here are some tips for you to follow to feel more relaxed, enjoy yourself and get the most out of your workout.

Do your research and book a tour

Getting a tour of the gym facilities is a must for someone who hasn’t really set foot in a gym before. It is a great way to see if you can picture yourself being comfortable to work out there and if it fits in with your lifestyle. For example, some gyms offer swimming pools, saunas and classes as well as a fitness room with cardio and resistance machines, whereas some gyms are simply open spaces with a few weights and ropes. If you feel like you would prefer to go to a class or have a post-workout swim, then the former option would work best for you. Additionally, some gyms are ‘health clubs’ and have social events and bars. If you feel like you would be more likely to work out knowing you can have a cheeky gossip and a glass of wine afterwards, these types of gyms might be the best ones for you.

Book an introduction

Most gyms offer introductory sessions for new members. This will involve a detailed tour around the gym facilities. If most of the machines and heavy weights seem intimidating, book a personal trainer to show you how to use any equipment you are unsure about. Don’t be embarrassed as this is their job and they will be more comfortable knowing you are working out safely as using the equipment incorrectly or with the wrong form can cause injury.

Try out everything

We all prefer some types of exercise to others, but if you have not tried them all then how do you know which ones you like best? If your gym offers classes, try out a few and see if you enjoy them. If you haven’t tried lifting weights before, have a go (making sure you know how to do so safely first). As mentioned earlier, if you are unsure about any of the equipment, make sure to ask a personal trainer or someone who works at the gym how to use it. You will find that there are so many different types of exercise out there, and finding one you enjoy means you are much more likely to keep it up. If the idea of running on a treadmill makes you quench with fear, don’t do it! Find a Zumba class or do some weights that you actually enjoy and feel good (and maybe even one day look forward to!) doing.

Work out a plan

Ignore this section if you are just looking to get your exercise fix and get your heart racing. If you are looking to progress your fitness, whether that’s lifting heavier, running faster, or simply losing a few pounds, creating a plan of how to progress your workouts is essential. There are many different ways to add intensity to your training. For example, you may start off running intervals of 5 minutes on the treadmill with 1-minute walk. As you find this easier, try extending the period of running to 7 minutes, or reducing your walk time. With weights, you can either lift heavier or increase the amount of reps you do. Think about what you are trying to achieve and map out the different stages of how you are going to get there.

Stay motivated

Easier said than done, it can be hard to get yourself pumped up and excited for a gym session when you’ve had a long day at work. Finding a gym buddy to hold you accountable is a great way to keep you committed. If you like to do your sessions in the morning, get your clothes and gym bag ready the night before. Most importantly, it’s important not to overdo it. Work your way into your training slowly and come up with a plan that you can maintain. There is no point going every day for a week and hating every minute of it. It is much better to incorporate it as a lifestyle change and go 2/3 times a week and enjoy it. Activewear that you feel good in also helps!

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