Happy New Year! It’s time to get it started! And for many of us, getting started means a return to the gym!
Across the country, gyms, studios and health clubs are bustling with new classes, equipment and members. We’re excited about keeping those New Year’s resolutions and starting new fitness regimens.
Whether you’re a rookie or a regular, however, keep in mind the following tips and “house rules” to have a safe, effective and fun experience.
Before you arrive:
- Hydrate at regular intervals during the day–long before the workout. Drink water throughout the day, not simply right before hitting the gym. And while I suggest drinking about 8-16 ounces of water before you workout, don’t overdo it.
- Eat a light snack 60-90 minutes before class. A snack, not a full meal. Good options include almonds and raisins, ants on a log, apples and bananas. Again, do not overdo it. Working out on a full stomach can be very uncomfortable.
- Practice good hygiene. Yes, you’re going to get hot and sweaty during the workout. But please respect yourself and others: Don’t walk into the gym already smelling like Pigpen.
When you arrive:
- Arrive early to group exercise classes–especially if you’re a rookie. As an instructor, I want to spend extra time to welcome you to class. I want to explain proper technique before cycle class, for example, or encourage you before we begin yoga practice. Though I will ask if there are new members before class begins, being proactive helps me notice you even faster.
- Remember that this is your workout. Don’t worry about how you think you may look during class, or on what others may or may not be doing. Focus on the workout–YOUR workout.
- Give the instructor feedback after group exercise classes, too. What did you like best? What questions do you have? Please ask!
- Remember the “first come, first served” rule. Many of us have a favorite bike we like to ride in the cycle studio, or space we flock to in a group exercise room. A favored bike or space, however, does not equal “yours.” Please be courteous and kind to other members. Lose the attitude if someone “takes” a bike or space that you may consider “yours.”
- Clean up after yourself… Gyms do not include maid service. Wipe down the equipment after use, including weight machines, indoor cycles and mats. I bring disinfectant wipes for class members’ convenience, but spray bottles and towels are available always.
- …And put equipment back after use. Put weights, mats and other equipment back in place.
- Be friendly to your fellow gym members, whether you’re regulars or rookies. A warm smile and a kind hello can help everyone feel welcome.
- Put down the phone. In fact, put the phone away. It is difficult to have an effective workout if you are continually stopping to text or talk. Don’t shortchange yourself. It can wait.
- Stop it with the selfies during class. Taking selfies during class is dangerous–for you and others. Yes, I’ve seen it. And stopped it. But because you followed rule #8, you shouldn’t be tempted.
- Feel GREAT about what you’re doing! You worked hard, so let it out. Shout, pump your fists, exhale–you deserve it!
When you get home:
- Track your progress. Write down what you have achieved for the day, and how you felt doing so. For example: how many miles did you ride? How long were you able to hold Warrior III? Whether you’re a techie, a pencil-and-paper traditionalist, or a bit of both, use charts, calendars, planners, diaries, spreadsheets, Fitbits, training apps or websites to tally your work.
- Refuel. Feed your muscles right and help your body recover by eating a balance of proteins and carbs. I often eat a salad with brown rice or quinoa, and chickpeas, chicken, or salmon. This video gives great ideas, too.
- Drink more water. Just like refueling your body, you need to make sure you hydrate properly. I drink at least 12 ounces of water after my workouts. This article is a handy guide as well.
- Choose your gym clothes for tomorrow’s workout. My workout clothes are selected and readied along with my work clothes for the next day.
- Smile at a job well done. Feel proud of what you achieved today!
- Be ready for even more tomorrow!