How To Start Going to The Gym

Zahra Mustansir


Going to the gym can be nerve-racking experience for beginners. For me, it was like stepping onto an unfamiliar terrain filled with machines I had no idea how to use.

man running on treadmill

Back in high school, I was never a sports champ. Gym was a blur and because I was going into sciences, I never had to take gym after grade nine.

In my first year of university I decided to take advantage of the resources at the Campus Recreation and Wellness Centre the university had and headed to the flex.

Once I entered,  I immediately went to the elliptical and stayed there for 30 mins then left. I was too scared to leave the safety of the elliptical and too stubborn to outright leave.

After that experience, I wondered what joy people got out of going to the gym and decided that working out was just not for me.

Woman saying 'working out? friggin nightmare!" 

I lived an unhealthy lifestyle after first year. Balancing school and work made me all kinds of lazy. I decided to make a change last year and finally went back to the flex.

It was a whole mess of ‘how do I use this machine? Am I using this machine right? This is definitely not how I’m supposed to be using the machine.’

I finally got myself out of the mindset that the gym is not for me and now I walk into the flex without fear. But first I needed some guidance which I'm now going to pass onto you.


Before The Gym

Create a workout for yourself before you go to the gym.

I was scared of the machines—not only that I wasn't going to use them right and people would look at me, but also because I was afraid I would seriously injure myself because I’m a klutz.

Cat lifting up rear leg

So I made a list of exercises I could do on the mat. Sit-ups, plank, bicycle crunch, squats—there are so many exercises you can do without any equipment and I finally felt at ease knowing exactly what I was going to do once I got to the gym. 


At The Gym

If you’re a first-timer, gyms can be intimidating. I always thought that people were looking at me or judging me because I didn’t know how to use the machines.

I was too afraid to change the setting on them to make the seat higher or lower, so I never had a good workout.

 3 cats balancing

After getting comfortable with no-equipment exercises, I ventured out and tried the machines.

The most important thing I learned at the gym is that nobody is paying any attention to you. Everyone is too focused on themselves to spare you a glance. 

Once you get in the mindset that you’re not being judged, you’ll feel more comfortable in trying out new machines.

There are instructions on the fitness machines but it's always good to ask the staff if you're unsure. They have a great knowledge and are happy to help. 

trainer helping girl with fitness machine

Remember gym etiquette and wipe down the machine with the spray and cloth after a tough workout!


After the Gym

Hooray! You made it. The next part is to keep up a good routine. Don’t over-exert yourself. Give yourself plenty of time to recover before going back for another workout.

Mr. Potato-head losing hands after lifting

Keeping a routine is going to be hard and will require tons of commitment. That’s why its important to keep manageable goals.

You don’t have to the gym everyday. Try going two or three times a week. Slowly increase your limit when you get familiar with the routine. 

Those are the the things I learned through my journey to a healthier life. It's okay to not know what you're doing at the gym. There are many people like me who are on the same boat.

The only thing you have to focus on is yourself and your goals. If you can do that, then you're already ahead of the game! 

Want a tour of the campus recreation facilities? Check out the virtual tour below! 

View Virtual Tour of Flex


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