Your 9-step guide to getting started in the gym

Getting started in the gym can be a bit intimidating but everyone’s got to start somewhere, right? Fit University Ambassador from Stony Brook, Michael C. shares, “When I first started lifting, I was a little intimidated because there are some strong people there. I felt weak lifting my weights..”

Sound familiar? He continues though, “but that mentality faded away rather quickly because, for the most part, everyone at the gym minds there own business and is worried about their own health and well being. People who are serious lifters would be happy to see new people hitting those weights if anything.” 

This guide is designed to get you acclimated and comfortable on the gym floor so you can reach your fittest potential. 

1. Know the basics

Familiarize yourself with a few basic exercises so once you step into the gym, you’re confident in your movements. You can learn the basics right in your dorm which makes it all the more easy. Northeastern student and Certified Personal Trainer Lauren Smith explains,”Don’t start with a barbell squat before you learn how to do an air squat. Don’t try to jump on the bench press until you can do a push-up. The basics are underrated and it’s always more important to start slow and be consistent.” Some basic exercises to know are:




Push Up

2. Consider a group fitness class or a personal trainer

Classes are great for two reasons. One, you have someone telling you exactly what to do and exactly how to do it. Two, they are generally high energy and incredibly fun. Take a Zumba or BollyX class, for example. Maybe even a glow in the dark yoga class. You can take what you learn in the class and apply it to your solo workout. If you’re a little timid to get started in a class, stand in the back but make sure you can still see the instructor and yourself in the mirror. It might also be a good idea to schedule a few sessions with a personal trainer if you’re trying to get serious. They can show you around the gym, what equipment to use and how to use it.

3. Workout during “off” times 

Amanda G. (Northeastern), says, “try going at times when you know it will be less crowded so you can get acclimated without feeling like everyone is watching you. Sunday mornings are usually pretty quiet, especially on a college campus, and can be a great time to take your time figuring out your routine.”

getting started in the gym

4. Do your research 

When you’re getting started in the gym, it is so crucial to do your research. The best and worst part about the internet is that there is endless health and fitness information available to you and as a result, there is a ton of misinformation out there. Just because someone works out doesn’t mean they are a personal trainer. Look for sites that use credible sources and rely on certified professionals for their content. is a great resource to learn proper form to avoid injury. 

And of course, you can always ask the gym staff how to do an exercise. It’s much better to ask if you’re unsure than to do an exercise incorrectly and hurt yourself. 

*Ladies… let me save you a bit of research. If you’re worried about strength training, please know… lifting weights will not make you look bulky.  I repeat, lifting weights will not make you look bulky.

5. Set a schedule 

When you’re first getting into a good gym groove, you might want to consider setting up a schedule with specific “gym days.” Pick one day of the week that’s the best time for you and stick to it – just one day. Starting off slow will make your goal of working out more attainable – if you happen to go a second or third time during the week, great! But if not, no biggie. Make a reminder in your phone so you have no excuse of forgetting.

6. Go in with a plan.

A plan without an action without a wish. Sorry, had to say it. It’s true! Walking into the gym without a workout in mind is like walking around the grocery store with a grocery list. You’ll just wander in an out of the isles until all of the sudden you’re spending $300 on paper plates because they were on sale. Don’t be that guy. Instead, go into the gym ready to know what your workout is and what equipment you’ll need. Need help finding a workout? Here’s a bunch for you to try.

7. Find a gym buddy

Accountability, motivation, fun-ness… that’s a word, right? These are just a few of the benefits of having a workout partner. Fit University ambassador Marie L. says, “What helped me when I was getting started in the gym was definitely the fact that I started going with a buddy, in my case Michael Crespo! He was more experienced with the gym and was able to show me around and teach me everything he knows about lifting. In no time, the intimidation of being a new member of the gym went away!” Don’t have any friends who are willing to make it out the gym with you? That’s ok! Our Fit University chapters have workouts in the gym to help you find your way around the gym. 

8. Try new things 

You’ll never know what you enjoy or what works for your body until you try it. Try a spin class, rock climbing, weight lifting, pole dancing. Whatever it is, try it! Worst case, you don’t like it. Best case, you just added something new to your life.

9. Have fun 

This is probably the most important part of it all. Nobody wants to go to the gym if it’s boring and seems like a chore. After you’ve tried some new things, figure out what you like and don’t like. Do the activities you like and don’t do the activities you don’t. Love kickboxing but hate running? Don’t run. Fitness should be something you enjoy and crave not something you hate and dread. Find your fun and stick to it.

Check out these articles too:

What You Need to Know About Basic Nutrition
Healthy Habits for College Life
No, I Didn’t Always Love Staying Fit (But I Do Now)
Fitness is About More Than Your Appearance: Here’s Why

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