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How to get started at the gym?

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Old 03-30-2009, 10:21 PM   #1
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Default How to get started at the gym?

Well, I joined a gym today. I didn't really go there to join - I just wanted to look around, see how many people were there, etc. It was kinda quiet actually! This is a small gym and there were only 3 people on the treadmills and 3 people on the elipticals. There were 6 or 7 guys on the weights. And I joined on the spot

But now what?? As I said, this is a small gym and I think they only have 1 or maybe 2 trainers and I am not sure they are there when I will be. If they are, I will ask them to help me get started but in the meantime, how do I get started? I am only going to do cardio machines for now but which one is best to start with? And the big question is how long do I try for at first? And how many days a week?

Can you tell I have never been to a gym before?

Wanna

Last edited by Wanna : 03-30-2009 at 10:24 PM.
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Old 03-30-2009, 10:39 PM   #2
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check out this site, lots of great advice, for newbies and gymrats alike:

www.stumptuous.com

have fun!
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Old 03-30-2009, 10:48 PM   #3
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Super grats on joining!

The next step is finding the workout that works for you - 'cause the best one is the one you'll stick with.

I found for me that starting on the treadmill ('cause, you know, I already know how to walk basically) was a good move. I had to work hard to remember not to push myself unrealistically - I'm very competitive and always want to ramp up the speed and incline. I've found I last longer, and enjoy going more, if I set things up with a minimal incline and a solid, but not straining, walking speed.

I began with 30 minutes, and try to do 40 minutes every day. However if 10 minutes works, then ten it is! You can always work up to more - again the key is doing what makes it possible for you to want to return and do more the next time!

Because I like to try things, I also put in ten minutes a week (or more sometimes) on an elliptical, bicycle, stairclimber, or other equipment.

And as soon as you feel comfortable with it, go ahead and add in some weights.
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Old 03-30-2009, 11:01 PM   #4
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If you are only going to do cardio - I guess it depends on your current health status and what exactly you think you can do to start off with.

Can you give us some information on your health and what you think you might enjoy doing for 30 minutes or so? Also, keep in mind - you don't have to limit yourself to one exercise - you can mix it up - walk on the treadmill for 10 min - then quickly move on to another machine - maybe the bikes? Also, does your gym offer classes? Aerobics classes can be a lot of fun - takes your mind off the pain

Remember, cardio involves getting your heart rate up above your resting heart. The best thing (in my opinion) is to establish your current resting heart rate - so that you can find what your best working heart rate would be and your max heart rate.

Here is a really great site to help you understand training zones - it also has a calculator to help you figure out what your heart rate should be in any given zone.

Last edited by debbies : 03-30-2009 at 11:03 PM.
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Old 03-30-2009, 11:23 PM   #5
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I'm crashing the forum... sorry! However, I do a lot of gym work, so I'll try to help you out.

But first, good on you for joining a gym!!

If you're just starting out (never worked out before), try 1/2 hour, three days a week; it's a reasonable goal to get to the gym 3 days a week. Start out on the bikes or treadmill, and work your way up from there. After you're comfortable walking or biking for 1/2 hour, try upping it to 4 days. Then 4 days and 40 minutes at a time, using different machines (rower for 10, bike for 10, treadmill for 10, elliptical for 10). Then add in the weights. Ask for a session with a personal trainer or gym employee to show you how to use the machines. And don't forget your iPod. Good music makes working out so much easier!

I can't say enough about weight lifting for women. Not power-lifting or body building, but toning. Muscle burns calories! If your gym offers it, ask for a caliper test (shows what body fat percentage you are, but only if you're comfortable with it!) If you do, get one done every 3 months to find out how you're doing. See if they will make up a basic weights workout: back, biceps, legs/calves, shoulders, abs, chest and triceps, plus cardio when/if you go to weights.

As Annieoh said, don't be unrealistic when you start. Give yourself time to work into it. And as Debbie said, look at your heart rate. strive for 60-70% of your max (220-your age) for the best fat-burning.

Good luck!
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Old 03-30-2009, 11:31 PM   #6
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Wanna, congratulations on the action you've taken for yourself. I'm glad you found a place where you feel comfortable. I've been a member of several different types of gyms over the years and the ones that didn't have the right feel to me, those were the ones I didn't want to go back to.

Starting as a complete beginner, I'd definitely go for a good cardio workout to start. That's what burns fat most effectively. But you don't burn fat until you get your heart rate up to the target zone. That requires warming up first. So go for the treadmill for five minutes at an easy, comfortable rate. Then get off the treadmill and stretch. Check this site out for flexibility exercises: http://www.thewalkingsite.com/stretching.html. Then get back on the treadmill and walk at a rate faster than your warm up rate, but one at which you're still comfortable, where you can still breathe easily and talk a little. Walk at this rate for just 15 to 20 minutes. After that, slow it down to your original rate and walk another five minutes.

Try to walk on the treadmill without hold on to it. The more you hang on to the treadmill, the lower your heart rate remains. If you get bored, increase your speed for a minute or two, then bring it back down for three to five minutes. And do that for a few cycles. This is called HIIT (high-intensity interval training). This is a really efficient way to ramp up your fat burning, plus it makes the fat burning last longer into the day, even when you're not on the treadmill.

So, after you're off the treadmill, do the same stretches you did at the beginning. You can do this little workout everyday, seven days a week, even twice a day. Stick with it for a couple of weeks and you'll start feeling really good! If you want additional motivation, bring an mp3 player and listen to some tunes. They are very motivating. An mp3 that I enjoy, and even got me into jogging, is Cardio Coach. You can buy it here: http://www.cardiocoach.com/. They've even got a sale on their downloads now!

After a week or so, you may be ready to get into weight training. This is an excellent time to hire a trainer, if you feel the need to have someone coach you on form. Good form is very important in weight training. If you want to try it on your own, the machines are a good place to start. Once you're into the weights, then it's good to switch to free weights. They provide a much better workout. But the machines are good for starters.

It's best to lift weights after a warm up on the treadmill plus stretching. Do your cardio after weight training, because the training will elevate your heart rate and you won't have to wait so long to get into the fat burning zone.

Start weight training with the most weight you can do while keeping good form, just one set of 10. When this gets easy to do, increase to two sets of 10, and later three sets of ten. You'll be ready to read The New Rules of Lifting for Women by then, which is really informative.

Okay, there's a good start for you! Keep us informed on your progress.

Georgia
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Old 03-31-2009, 12:04 AM   #7
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Wanna you've gotten some good advice here. I worked out daily in high school (I marched in the band and needed strength because my instrument was very very heavy), then a bit in college (third string crew ~ pretty bad!), then a good bit in 2004, then started back again last month. I hadn't been planning on it but my weight loss had stalled.

Tomorrow will be my 4-week anniversary of going. The first day, I did 10 minutes on the treadmill and about 8 on the elliptical and I thought I was going to pass out! But I stuck to it and it got a lot easier.

I go 6 days a week. 3 of those days I just do cardio ~ generally, 30 minutes on the elliptical and 30 minutes on the treadmill. I try to keep my heart rate on both at around 115 with periodic intervals of 125, with a couple of 130-135 HR intervals thrown in. On the treadmill, after warming up I will raise the incline to 12-15 and keep at a pretty slow pace, then lower the incline to 6-8 and raise the pace. The fastest I can go is 3.2, which is pretty slow, but I have bad ankles and knees.

The other 3 days a week, I do a 10-minute warmup on either the elliptical or the treadmill, then I do 30-60 minutes of weights. The first 2 weeks I only did weight machines, but in the last 2 weeks I've added free weights.

My week generally looks like this: Sunday, cardio; Monday, weight training (upper body); Tuesday, cardio; Wednesday, weight training (core/lower body); Thursday (off ~ gotta watch The Office!); Friday (cardio); Saturday, weight training (upper/core) ~ and on and on.

Things that really help: I take my wonderful water bottle full of ice so my water stays cold the whole time. I have awesome music on my iPod including a lot of disco and a lot of James Brown! I do a few stretches when I first start out then continue to stretch at intervals throughout the workout. And I've made it a habit because I go every day without fail except on my free day.

I haven't lost any weight since starting BUT I have lost a whole size ~ AND I am getting major major muscle definition in my shoulders/upper arms. Of course, that's one of my goals because I am lifting very heavy weights, just a few reps. Most women go for toning rather than building, but my upper arms are enormous and I don't want saggy skin if I can help it. So I'm trying to fill all that skin up with muscle. Small would be better, but I'll take giant muscular arms over giant fat arms any day. And maybe one day I will look like Linda Hamilton in Terminator II, or a WNBA player...I can dream, anyway.

Best of luck to you. You will do great! And before too long you will really start to enjoy it! I am a deeply, deeply lazy person and I actually have really gotten into it because of the RESULTS!
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Old 03-31-2009, 12:05 AM   #8
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One thing I forgot to add ~ I bought the book "Weight Training for Dummies" and it is very helpful, particularly with free weights. I highly recommend it.
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Old 03-31-2009, 12:40 AM   #9
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Wow! A lot of good advice here. I definitely dont have that great of advice, but it all helped me too. I just say - stay committed once you start. If you fall off, just get back on. You will feel so much better after just a few days of working out. If you start slacking, just think of how great you feel when you do work out. Good lucK!
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Old 03-31-2009, 03:06 AM   #10
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i just started the c25k program. it basically takes you from being a couch potato to running a 5k in 9 weeks. im training to run a half marathon for my 30th birthday. it seems to be a great way to get your body moving
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Old 03-31-2009, 07:12 AM   #11
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WOW! Thanks for all the great advice and tips! I walked out yesterday thinking - OMG what have I just done? LOL I intended to join but not yet. I was putting it off to sometime in the "future", ya know?

I think I will start on the treadmill and a few minutes on the elliptical. See how I do. To answer Debbies question on my health - I am in fairly good health (other than that pesky morbidly obese thing ) I was told a couple of years ago that I was pre-hypertensive and my cholesterol was a little high. I am thinking I will make an appointment with my doctor before I get too intense with this. I also smoke but that will be going by the wayside as well once I get the diet change down. Maybe in a month. I don't think I can do both at the same time.

We have a small farm here so I do some walking everyday feeding the animals but not WALKING if you know what I mean. I do some occasional lifting around here as well - haybales, 50lb feed sacks, etc. But again it is casual, not LIFTING. And it is not daily. I will add in strength training once I get in the habit of going and am more comfortable with the gym. And once I have the cardio down pat.

This gym only offers one "Trim & Tone" class twice a week no other organized classes of any kind. The girl yesterday said that was a pretty fast paced class when I asked about it. I don't think that is anything I will be able to do in the near future but one day I will try it.

Today I need to go buy something to wear. I don't think jeans will work I also need to buy some decent tennis shoes.

Thanks again!
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Old 03-31-2009, 08:14 AM   #12
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Wanna -- Congrats!!

If you don't work out much now you may not be able to yet do 30 min (or even 15-20) where you get your heartrate up. When I started exercise, I did 15-20 min of cardio and that was it. I built up.

I also couldn't do more than 2 (yes, two) minutes on the elliptical when I first started. Now I love it!

Oh, I invite you (encourage you) to join our monthly exercise thread! Keep track of your minutes and then record them in the stickied thread at the top of the forum. You'll be helping us! We're trying to break a record from 2007 of minutes exercised and we need EVERYONE'S minutes!!
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Old 03-31-2009, 08:37 AM   #13
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Wanna-congrats on joining a gym! I just want to add that you got really good advice, but Heather is correct, start where you can. If its 5 minutes, then thats what it is. Start slow and build up. Also I would add that alot of times a gym will give you a free walk through and show you how to use the machines correctly. If they do, take advantage. They also may give you a free session with a personal trainer, take advantage.
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Old 03-31-2009, 12:02 PM   #14
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Quote:
I do some occasional lifting around here as well - haybales, 50lb feed sacks, etc. But again it is casual, not LIFTING.
Still--50 pounds.
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Old 04-01-2009, 08:24 PM   #15
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Heather - Thanks for the advice and the invite. Once I get started I will add my minutes. My DH wanted me to get a good check up with my Dr (before I start) so I have an appointment in about 1 1/2 weeks.

Devsmama - you are right - what I can do is what I can do. I am certain I won't be able to do more than just a very few minutes at first. But I will get better and do more!

MariaMaria - I guess I should clarify - It isn't lifting so much as slinging it up on my shoulder. Taking the feed bag from the tailgate of my truck to my shoulder is all one fast motion so...not really lifting. I admit it - I cheat

Thanks,
Wanna
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