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I joined a gym! Now what?

If you’re like roughly 80% of Americans, you’ve never had a gym membership. So what should you know the first time you go to the gym?

  • Consider a “fact-finding mission”: You should probably visit a gym before you join, but if your needs are simple and the price is right, you may end up joining first. You don’t have to work out on your first visit. You can walk around, see how the equipment is laid out, check out the locker room, and make a note of things you might want to look up online when you’re back home.
  • Many gyms have a new-user orientation of some kind, whether a group session or a private session with gym staff to show you equipment basics. For some gyms, this is an opportunity to sell you a series of personal-trainer visits; this may be a good option for you, but it’s also OK to wait a little while before you make that (financial) commitment.
  • Find out what the gym’s rules of conduct are: Some gyms forbid the open use of cell phones, for example, as a result of privacy issues with respect to cell phone cameras. Gyms with free weights expect you to wipe down equipment that collects sweat (benches, rails and entry panels on cardio machines), and to re-rack any weights you use (dumbbells and plates).
  • Find out what the gym’s processes are: Most gyms provide equipment on a first-come, first-served basis. Depending on your plans, you may want to alternate between 2 sets of equipment — be aware that other gym users will expect to share equipment (trading off between sets is called “working in”). Some high-demand machines may have sign-up sheets. Most gyms have free lockers for day use only, and some may also have lockers you can rent, so you can keep clothes and a towel there.

Now the adventure really begins — trying things out and learning what workout works best for you!

Wonderful photo from Going to the Gym Today? Thank This 19th-Century Orthopedist

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