What To Do On Your First Day in The Gym

What To Do On Your First Day in The Gym, December 2021

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...Then Check Again

Man coach and woman discussing something from paper

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

Two black men writing and discussing on a white board

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

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

Group of people running on treadmills

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

A mane coach assisting a woman athlete lift a barbell

This is an optional step to take when going to the gym for the first time, so don't feel you need to spend the money if you have to, but it's worth considering.

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.

Arnold Schwarzenegger working out with his 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.

Even having someone to chat to can help alleviate gym anxiety. Whether it's your first time, or their 500th time, it's nice to have a partner to help push you or make you feel relaxed and enjoy your time in the gym.

6. Wear Comfortable and Suitable Clothing

Two people working out together with kettle bells

Sounds obvious but a lot of people don't think about it or don’t fully realize what type of clothing is suitable.

Do a little research and find gym clothing like weightlifting shoes, hoodies, and other accessories that will help you perform and feel better in the gym.

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.

Most gyms have a dress code as well, and while you might want to rock a gym singlet reminiscent of the 70's golden age of bodybuilding, it might not be suitable.

Once again, the most important aspect of wearing at the gym is wearing stuff that feels good to move in and allows you to workout uninhibited.

7. Forget About What Others Think

A black man listening to music while doing deadlifts

Easier said than done, I know.

But, honestly, they probably aren’t paying attention to you.

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 and focus more on improving than how you look.

8. Don't Go Too Hard

Two woman working out together doing a handshake

You do need to push outside of your comfort zone at some point to get results, but 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 our previous post to find out what you need to know about muscle soreness.

9. Clean the Equipment After Using It

Woman in mask spraying down a machine to workout

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.

Not only will you appear to be an upstanding gym patron, it's just a small act you can do to help out everyone else around you.

10. Don’t Tip the Barbell

A man on a black tank top and navy blue shorts benching heavy weights

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 mighty crash of plates hitting the ground 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

Man spotting another man benching weights

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 someone to avoid on your first day.

Even though some people don't have any gym etiquette, there are always experienced lifters around that are glad to show you the ropes and lend a hand.

12. Do Not Be Obnoxious

A woman in rose pink top and gray leggings stretching  in a gym

No one's going to fault you for being on your phone in between sets, but don't be that person talking loudly on their phone interrupting everyone's workouts.

In fact, it goes for all kinds of obnoxious behavior at the gym. It's unfortunate that I still have to tell people this, but no one wants to listen to your music out loud. 

If you're there with a group of friends or a partner, try not to talk too loudly, try not to get in everyone's way, and be respectful of other gym-goers. Simply put - treat others the way you'd like to be treated at the gym!

13. Put Your Weights and Equipment Back

A man putting dumb bells back to their rack

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.

Keep in mind that leaving things lying around is a major safety hazard too, so be courteous and make everyone's life simpler by putting things back where they belong.

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?

Final Thoughts

The gym is like a dojo for many. It's a place to go to clear your head, sculpt the body, or for many, a good learning lesson on why the gym is so beloved.

If you're reading this, it's likely that you have some nerves about going to the gym for the first time. That's okay, because after reading these simple tips, you can see that with a little common sense and advice, your first time at the gym can be very pleasant.

So, what are you waiting for? Grab your bag and get in there!

Denver Matheson

I spend a lot of time at the gym and even more time in the kitchen giving my body what it needs to repair itself and grow stronger. The third most important place for any athlete is their research zone. That's exactly why this site exists, to help me share all of the information I've learned throughout the years just like people did for me in the first place!

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 3 comments
tayyab - June 3, 2022

thanks for information

Frederick Dyer - May 14, 2022

Thanks a lot for sharing such a great piece of article! I found it a good helpful write-up with a good sound and explanation. Here I have seen some valuable ideas that are definitely helpful for every fitness enthusiast who wants to start the workout in the gym. Please keep sharing more updates!

Afton Jackson - October 31, 2021

The segment of your article that talked about training with a friend really caught my attention. This definitely sounds like it can help me get into the routine of working out if I have someone who can give me tips and some help along the way. Once I find a gym in the area, I’ll take one of my friends who also wants to lose weight and train with them.


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