The gym is a scary place for most of us—insecurities are triggered and there are a lot of unknowns—the equipment, exercises, the people, the change rooms and the etiquette. It’s also important to note that we may have experienced some kind of discrimination or harassment based off of being a member of a marginalized community. Here I am going to lie out some general guidelines to make this transition into the gym easier.
Before the workout:
What to pack in the bag: Pack a towel to wipe your sweat and place on benches. Also bring your own water bottle and music—I find this helps keep you “busy” when you’re trying to figure out your next step. Bring your own lock for the lockers where you store your belongings and clothes.
You don’t have to “care” about what you look like in the gym, but you do need to be comfortable.
Have a plan:
Get a tour of the place beforehand, so you know the lay out. Schedule a session with a trainer and replicate that workout on your own afterward or look up some sample workouts online.
During the workout:
If you haven’t yet gotten a tour of the gym, ask for one now from the front desk.
The main goal is to leave feeling accomplished and positive, not exhausted and defeated. Start light with the exercises and gradually increase the weight every set afterward (if needed).
Every gym has the unwritten courtesy rules. I have created a “Getting Started” Manual for you, which lays out some common gym etiquette rules to help you navigate the space. You can get it here.
After the workout:
Clean everything you used. Don’t leave your lock on the locker—take everything with you. The lockers are typically day-use only and they will cut the lock and place your belongings in the lost and found at the end of the day. Put shower towels in designated area as a courtesy of staff and other gym members.