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My first night at the gym = nightmare

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Old 01-30-2008, 08:02 AM   #1
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Default My first night at the gym = nightmare

Yesterday was my first day at the gym I signed up at. I haven't been to a gym since my skinny days 4 years ago.

I was completely intimidated. I didn't know what to do, what machine to use. So I first went into the stretching room. They had a few resistance machines in there in a circle. I guess if you go around them on a circle, you're supposed to be warmed up?? Well looking at myself in the mirror (they're everywhere) really hurt my ego. I just looked like a fat round blob sitting on these machines. I can picture people laughing at me in their head.

So after I warmed up, I went to an eliptical machine and got on that. I didn't know how to work it, so I just hit the quick start button. After 2 minutes, it felt like 30. So I told myself I would stay on it till 5. And I did!! Then I did 1 minute backwards and got off it. I only did 6 minutes on the thing, but it's a start right? I wonder if the people on the machines behind me noticed I was only on it for 5 minutes.

I wiped the machine down and left. Such a humilating night In and out of the gym in 20 minutes. I hope to improve this, but for now it's a start.

What do you do when you go to the gym? I want to go, I spent too much money on membership to quit.
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Old 01-30-2008, 08:15 AM   #2
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Aw. You did a great thing getting in there and doing something. That's all anyone could ask you to do! I always feel intimidated when I'm in a new place. Always. I feel like everyone is staring at me and thinking things about me. Chances are, no one noticed what you were doing because they were so wrapped up in their own workouts.

Does the gym you attend offer a free training session or anything? Could you ask the people who work there to explain how the machines work or give you an idea of what kind of a program to do? I would imagine that's part of their job - they have to keep you safe in their establishment, so you have to know how to work the machines properly.

When I go to the gym I like to do the elliptical as well. Our gym has LifeFitness ones. When I get on, I start pedalling and then press the "Manual" button. Then it asks for my weight, which I enter on the numerical pad and then push "Enter". Then it asks for the time I want to go for. I usually do an hour (I had to work up to that) so I push "5500" (it makes "55:00" on the screen) and then "Enter" because it does a five minute cooldown automatically at the end so that makes an hour. Then it asks what level I want to do and I always just do Level 1 so I push "1" and "Enter". Then it starts. I pedal the whole time I'm entering the stuff.

Hope that helps!

Oh, I don't find it very useful to stretch before I do cardio because my muscles aren't warmed up yet and I don't want to hurt them. I do spend about fifteen minutes after each cardio workout stretching, though.

Also, if your gym offers any classes, they would be a great way to change up your routine a bit. I like to do yoga classes and toning classes (my gym calls them "chisel" classes). I don't care for spin (on the bike) very much because it hurts my bum, but that is also a very popular class.

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Old 01-30-2008, 08:23 AM   #3
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Hey, you WENT! This should be a triumphant morning!

I think, as Tomandkara said, that someone at the gym should be able to take you around and help you out for your first night. Just to show you the ropes and machines!

I generally just treadmill.

I tried out the elliptical at my work's gym (no trainers or anything, just equipment) but I think I was using it wrong I'm no gym genius.

Now that I'm looking into lifting some weights (something I'm clueless about, unfortunately) I, too, may soon be looking for someone in person who knows what the crap they're talking about.

Eitherway, best of luck! And I can't say anything about what other people are thinking/doing, but I know that when I'm doing my treadmilling I'm not thinking about anyone else around me.
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Old 01-30-2008, 08:25 AM   #4
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I think you did great -- I would never have been able to sit in the room full of mirrors!!!

When I started I could only do 3 minutes on the elliptical and now I'm up to 40 minutes and then a mile or so on the track. You'll get there, honest!! I agree, see if someone who works there could at least show you how to set the machines for your personal use.

At first I felt like everyone was watching the "obese woman" on the machines to see how long I lasted, but they care about what you are doing almost as much as you care abou them!! Everyone is there to exercise their body and are into themselves more than whats going on around them, honest!! You'll get comfortable and even start helping out the new people who come in.
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Old 01-30-2008, 08:28 AM   #5
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Thank you guys

I signed up for a trainer on Thursday and wanted to propose an exercise plan I read about in an oxygen mag. It's called the push/pull exercise. I also need someone to show me how to work the machines. I am completely out of it. My office has the exact same elipticall as the one at the gym. One of those preforms or precor, I'm not sure on the name. I was going to try working out on the one here at work to understand it better so I'm not makign a fool of myself in public Is the elipticall supposed to hurt?? I was in pain almost the whole time, and broke a mad sweat in those 5 minutes.
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Old 01-30-2008, 08:39 AM   #6
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I'd suggest mixing up your cardio with lifting free weights. I think weight lifting is just as, if not more important, for weight loss as cardio. I'm a fan of the Precor ellipticals (I have a heart rate monitor and it can "talk" to those machines, so that it displays my actual heart rate on the screen ). I'm lifting weights (full-body routines) 3 days a week now and taking a cardio kickboxing class (it's an hour long) two days a week. Maybe look into some group classes?

I think you're doing the right thing asking a trainer to help you figure things out. Most gyms worth their salt give a complementary session with a trainer after a new member joins, to show the member all the equipment and how to use it. The human body is incredibly adaptable. I remember my first time on an elliptical. Nightmare. Like you, 5 minutes completely wrung my out my first time. I can now go an hour without a problem if I choose to. I worked my way up by 5 minutes every time I went, until I reached an hour. Good luck!

PS~ I know you think everyone's watching you. I think we've all felt that way in a gym at one time or another. Someone told me once that "everyone is so busy worrying about other people looking at them, that they're too focused on themselves to be looking at you". I take some comfort in that. And, now that I'm lifting the heavy free weights on the "guy's side" of the gym, I've found that those intimidating "meat heads" are really friendly guys--they're usually willing to spot you on your bench press or answer a question if you have one.

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Old 01-30-2008, 09:15 AM   #7
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Congrats on making it there and getting started!!!

I often go to the gym for 10 minutes at a time (it's in my apartment building, so it's easy for me to duck down for short periods). I also feel self-conscious about doing that, because I wonder if people are laughing at me that I'm there for such a short time. But you know what? Who cares. It's my body and I'm getting it in shape MY way And it's working! That's all that matters.
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Old 01-30-2008, 09:19 AM   #8
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Hi Sneeks! You go, girl!! I had exactly the same experience when I started at the gym. I think I made it four minutes on the Precor, and my legs were on friggin' FIRE the whole time. Absolutely nothing like the stiffness I experienced the second day afterwards!!! But it got better, and then I could do 20 minutes. Fast forward two years, and I walked my first half-marathon.

As far as strength training goes, I second everyone who said to work with a trainer the first couple times. Form is everything - and once I learned the right way to lift, I started looking at those big beefy guys in a whole new light. A lot of those non-fat people at the gym actually have no idea what they're doing! Over the years I've seen some appalling form and dangerous moves. Not saying that it's great to be critical of what other people are doing, but it helped me with feeling like I don't look right and everyone else is rolling their eyes at the fat lady puffing away on the treadmill.

The other thing that helped was cultivating a "so what?" attitude about them. Maybe they are thinking that I look terrible. So what?
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Old 01-30-2008, 09:21 AM   #9
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I just want you to know how great I think it is that you went, and by yourself at that! I'm working up the nerve to go, but I'm dragging my husband with me lol. I think you should feel very proud of yourself
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Old 01-30-2008, 09:22 AM   #10
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I've often found that having a plan before I walk in the door makes a big difference for my comfort level - especially when I was first starting out. That way I felt like I had a purpose/mission.

For cardio I sometimes mix up the machines I use to accomplish the # of minutes I plan to do. Eg. 15 min elliptical, 20 min tread, 10 min rower. I get bored & this helps keep it fresh plus some machines I just can't hack it for the full 45 min (especially the rower - lol).

As well, on the cardio machines I never use the preset routines. I always use the quickstart features & then (usually) create my own intervals as I go along. Again, I get bored so this lets me change it up & keep myself entertained.

Good luck - & good for you for joining the gym!!!

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I still overt my eyes from the mirrors - I soooo wish they were not there!
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Old 01-30-2008, 10:41 AM   #11
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Make sure you turn down the resistance on the elliptical, its not supposed to hurt. I only use the lower resistance levels on those.
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Old 01-30-2008, 11:05 AM   #12
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First of all - WAY TO GO! You went and you did something! Thats just awesome
As for being worried what others think - I remember when I was a lot thinner than I am now and I would go to the gym quite a lot. When I saw a "person of size" I would always just think good thoughts. I would think it was so good that they were doing something about their health, and that they were brave for facing the mirrors. I have no doubt that the few people who werent too wrapped up in what they were doing and actually noticed you thought nothing but positive things, and certainly didnt think you looked stupid or anything like that.

Keep it up, you are an inspiration


/Timk, who is too chicken to go to the gym and wishes she had more guts
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Old 01-30-2008, 01:47 PM   #13
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That's great that you went! If you're intimidated by the machines, and not sure how to work them exactly, you could go really early in the morning so you're one of the few in there. That way you won't feel as though so many people are watching you (which they're probably not, anyway!).
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Old 01-30-2008, 02:29 PM   #14
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You should try other machines, not feeling like the elliptical is "THE" way to go.. Maybe you're more a stair climber person, or a rower, or a weight machines person..

For me, I would always get burnt out on the recumbent or regular bikes. Other people said those were the easiest ones, but even with a really looooow fitness level I could do a LONG time on the rower.

Find a machine you like and can do for a while, and then work up to the ones you aren't so good at, like the elliptical (which you WILL be good at, eventually).

Heck, even just grab some of the 1 or 2lb free weights and do some reps to put in your time so you feel you're doing SOMETHING if all else fails. The swiss balls are pretty great, too!
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Old 01-30-2008, 03:30 PM   #15
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I'm another person who when I first got on the elliptical could only do a few minutes. I would do a few minutes elliptical, then treadmill for awhile and then another few minutes on the elliptical. Over time I worked my way up to an hour at a hill level of about 5.

I echo the advice of getting a personal trainer, even if for just a few sessions. It will make you much more comfortable in the gym.
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