A new year means a new beginning, and if you’re one of the many people whose New Year’s resolution is to get fitter than before, great! But heading to the gym for the first time can be a scary, and sometimes confusing, ordeal. It doesn’t help that there are these big and intimidating guys grunting and lifting (sometimes literally) tons of weight.
If you’re afraid that you might embarrass yourself by doing what’s socially unacceptable at the gym, you’re not alone. No one wants to be “that guy”. Thankfully, a recent r/AskReddit thread popped up to answer those exact concerns you have. With these tips, you’ll look right at home in no time.
Don’t block the mirror
Be a little considerate of others when you’re lifting. “Do not exercise directly in front of the dumbbell rack. Take your weights a couple of steps back,” says redditor u/HotSunTheory.
It’s not just about vanity – some people may need to look at themselves to check their form, so it makes sense to leave some room so everyone can see themselves.
To put it in perspective, u/varsitymisc adds that “it’s the gym equivalent of standing right in front of the baggage carousel.”
Don’t curl in the squat rack
“Don’t do your bicep curls in the squat rack. Bicep curls can be done anywhere. squats can only be done in the squat rack.” – u/ewwthrowthataway
Don’t leave your weights after you’re done
Re-rack all your weights and put all equipment back where they belong after you use them. It’s just simple courtesy. Plus, you may not think it’s a big deal, but it can be a hassle to other gym users.
“This is a big one. For me, as a 230 lb (105kg) guy, I can unrack all your 45 lb (20kg) plates without issue. It’s annoying, but no big deal. But not everyone can; I have known of some instances where people have had to ask others for help to derack the weights so they can use a particular station.” – u/optimaloutcome
“5’3 (1.6m) gal here. The local sports teams workout at the same gym I do. I cannot unrack the squat rack when the 6’5 (1.95m) basketball players have the 45# weights loaded on a bar that’s above my head.” – u/BridgetteBane
Don’t leave without cleaning up the equipment
“Be clean and wipe down the machines you’re on. Even if you don’t think you were that sweaty on it, it’s just courtesy.” – u/ridersderohan
The last thing anyone wants is to lie back on a bench and feel someone else’s sweat on there. Not only is it unhygienic, it’s just not cool.
Don’t make others feel uncomfortable
“Leave the hot girls alone, they are not there to flirt” – u/k1rage
Yes, some of the fittest girls at the gym can be some of the most attractive. But like anyone else, they’re there to exercise and not be eye candy for you. Don’t be creepy.
Don’t hog equipment
Sure, you’re excited about trying this brand new workout routine you saw online. But be aware of what you’re doing and don’t end up using the only power rack in the gym for two hours.
“Don’t hog equipment. This encompasses a variety of behaviours, from dragging every dumbbell off the rack to your spot so you can switch between them at your convenience rather than using and returning them as you go, to sitting on busy/limited equipment checking your phone for several minutes while people wait, to switching between 2 or more machines and claiming you’re using them all. The gym is a shared space, and you have exactly the same rights to use the equipment and resources as everyone else there.” – u/abunchofsquirrels
Don’t worry about what others think of your current fitness level
It’s only natural to be self-conscious when you step into the gym for the first time. You’re surrounded by super fit people, so your unfit self is gonna stick out like a sore thumb, right? Wrong.
u/svenson_26 dispenses some valuable advice for all first-timers out there:
“You will see impossibly big muscular dudes that get all red in the face and scream at the top of their lungs while picking up a bar with as much weights as can fit on it. You will see insanely attractive women with perfectly flat stomachs and huge boobs working out in designer yoga pants and sports bras that hide nothing, taking up half an acre of space with their mats, dumbbells, stretchy bands, weird half yoga balls, ipads, and shaker bottles full of mysterious viscous green fluids. You will get on the treadmill next to an old skinny 80 year old dude who will be running faster than you for twice as long as you, and will walk around the change room afterwards very naked.”
“The important thing to remember is that you have every right to be a part of this gym, just as much as they do. You are allowed to use everything you are paying to use.”
“Nobody will ever judge you. If you do a cardio machine at the lowest speed for 5 minutes, or if you go lift weights and lift just the empty bar, or if your hair is a mess, you have no makeup, your fat is jiggling everywhere, you sweat completely through your shirt, and you look like total shit, NOBODY will judge you. Nobody cares. They are their for themselves, not for you. Most, if not all of them, were in your situation at one point.”
Simply put, don’t worry so much. People are more concerned about themselves when working out. Unless you do something highly dangerous or are creating a general disturbance to the rest of the patrons, you’ll be fine.
Don’t give up
“People will look at you and think ‘they’ll be gone by February’. Prove them wrong.” – u/jjake101
By Gilbert Wong, Men’s Health Content Producer