What to do on your first day in the gym? – 13 tips to crush your first day at the gym

Worrying about what to do on your first day in the gym? Fear not, everybody does. This guide has you covered, though. Read it and you will be crushing it in the gym from day one!

Your first gym session can be a daunting and unnerving experience. The gym can feel like a rather foreign, mysterious place to those that have never ventured inside.

This quick-fire tips guide has you covered.

The truth is, the gym is an awesome place to get stronger, fitter and improve your quality of life.

Sure, you can do that in a home gym but training around like-minded individuals is excellent for motivation.

The first day at the gym, however, needs to be conquered if you are ever going to enjoy the benefits of training in a gym. Here are some quick-fire tips and advice to help your first gym workout go smoothly.

What to do on your first day in the gym. Gym noob success tips:​


1. Check you have everything you need. Check again.

There’s nothing worse than getting to the gym and realizing you have forgotten something. Even for more experienced gym-goers, it can ruin a workout. It’s even more important to make sure you have everything packed in your gym bag if it’s your first day at the gym.

Forgetting something important puts you on the back foot and creates a negative experience before you even begin. Ensure you’ve got it all beforehand.

You might not need all the items, but here’s a quick list of common gym gear to take:

Towel, water bottle, lock, hair ties, earphones, membership card, toiletries, workout clothes, a change of clothes, workout trainers.

2. Have a plan.

Knowing what you’re supposed to do before getting to the gym is key for everybody.

first day at the gym plan ahead image

Making up a workout on the spot isn’t an effective way to train. Wandering aimlessly around the gym as a newbie is also a very awkward and helpless feeling. I’ve been there.

Do a bit of research on good routines and exercise technique before you head in for your first session.

3. Warm up on the bike or elliptical machine.

This isn’t because those are the best machines to warm up on, it’s actually a tactical choice.

The bike and the elliptical require less concentration than the treadmill or rowing machine, making them an excellent choice for scoping the gym out before your workout.

Try and pick a machine that has a good view of the gym if you can. Spend a few minutes looking around and spotting the pieces of equipment you want to use for your workout. Take a look at how other people are using them so you have a rough idea of how they work.

I used to do this all the time and still do if I’m heading into a completely new gym. It’s a really good way to get comfortable.

4. Work with a trainer.

Many gyms will offer induction sessions for new members. Take advantage of them and gain as much relevant information from the trainer as you can.

It is an easy way to get around the confusion of What to do on your first day in the gym. Let a professional take care of that for you.

Walking around with a trainer on your first visit will take away the feeling of vulnerability that sometimes comes with being alone. The trainer will also be able to show you exactly how to set up the equipment so you won’t need to fumble around by yourself.

5. Train with a friend.

Following on from my last point, being with a friend gives that “safety in numbers” effect. It doesn’t really matter if your friend is experienced in the gym, although that can help, the main thing is that you have somebody familiar with you.

Arnold and Franco training together

6. Wear comfortable and suitable clothing.

Sounds obvious but a lot of people either don’t think about it or don’t fully realise what type of clothing is suitable. Do a little research.

Pick clothing that isn’t going to get caught up in machinery or inhibit your movements but that you feel confident wearing. You will probably feel conscious enough so go for clothes that make you feel good to wear.

7. Forget about what others think.

Easier said than done, I know.

But, Honestly, they probably aren’t thinking anything. Most people are either there to train and don’t pay attention to what others are doing, or they are feeling just as self-conscious as you.

In the gym and life in general, people are way too focused on themselves to worry too much about what you’re doing so don’t even sweat it.

8. Hold back a bit.

You do need to push outside of your comfort zone at some point to get results. Your first session probably isn’t the time to do that.

You need to be learning exercise technique and getting your body used to the movements first. Pick weights that you are comfortable handling and build up from there.

Another point is that you are probably going to quite sore for a day or two after. Everything will be new to your body so it’s going to create a bit of soreness. Take a look at this post to find out what you need to know about muscle soreness.

9. Clean the equipment after use.

Self-explanatory, you don’t want to be laying or sitting in anybody else’s sweat puddle and they don’t want to sit in yours.

10. Don’t tip the barbell.

This would be a most scarring thing to experience on your first day in the gym.

I have never done it myself but, many times, I have heard the almighty crash and turned around to see the red-faced, horrified victim looking helpless in the aftermath.

Not to mention it could also be very dangerous.

What I’m talking about is balancing the barbell on the rack, bench press or stands. Loading too much weight on one side has a see-saw effect that sends the opposite end flipping into the air.

It depends how far apart the uprights on the rack are, but to be safe, I never have more than a 45lbs/20kg difference between each side.

11. Ask for help.

bench press spotter

Don’t struggle by yourself or do anything you are unsure of. There should be plenty of staff around to lend a hand.

If not, ask a member that looks like they know what they are doing. Most people will be willing to help you out.

If they’re not willing to help, then good news, you discovered the gym a$$-hole on your first day. You can now avoid him/her from the get-go.

12. Do not answer a call in the gym.

A quick text is fine, just don’t spend ages sitting on the bench press staring at your screen. However, full-blown phone conversations in the gym should be illegal.

I might be sounding like some grumpy old man here but it winds me up so much. I’m pretty good at letting people do their own thing, not much bothers me but it’s quite hard to ignore somebody wandering around, shouting over the music with their phone stuck to the side of their face. It’s quite off-putting to word it lightly.

I know you can’t ignore calls, it could be an emergency. Answer it and walk away to the changing room or the exit to take the call.

13. Put back everything you use.

A sure-fire way to make yourself an enemy to members and staff alike, is to leave equipment lying everywhere.

Be courteous and anything you use back where it should go. Don’t be lazy.

My view has always been that returning the equipment and weights is just another part of the exercise. You get some extra work for your muscles when you are carrying plates and bars across the gym anyway, so why not do it?

Laine Norton
 

I am a strength training enthusiast that loves discovering new ways to get stronger. As a certified trainer and powerlifting competitor, I'm always looking for different training methods and advice. I hope to pass some of what I learn on to my fellow lifters.