Fit Fridays: Navigating the Weights Area

Hey you guys- I meant to post this last Friday but things got a little crazy.  They still are little crazy but I see the light at the end of the tunnel- woo hoo!

Anyway,  I wanted to discuss a topic that I find is often an issue and- while I hate to say it- a problem I notice many women have.  That is the weights section of the gym.  It can be an intimidating area- so many different machines and things to do (and do wrong!).  I remember my freshman year in college when I went to the gym for the first time.  Let’s just say I walked in, looked around all the machines, free-weights and open mats, and walked back to do some cardio before quickly leaving.  I never went back- I’ve always been self conscious and worried about doing something wrong and making a fool of myself and didn’t want to do so then.

Even though I basically live in the weights section now, I’m still always learning and always looking to improve my form and work on new techniques.  Here are some things I’ve learned over the years:

  1. Do Some Research: If you’re just starting out, do some research!  The internet is an endless area of information and you can find some really great starter workouts.  Bodybuilding.com is a great resource and has a lot of information about different routines and techniques.
  2. Schedule a Session: Most gyms offer a free training sessions when joining.  Even if you aren’t planning on hiring a trainer down the line, take advantage of the complimentary session to ask to be given a basic breakdown on how to use the different machines.  If you don’t get a complimentary session I would still recommend scheduling a single session with a trainer to help.
  3. Read the Machines: Machines typically have instructions for standard ways of using them- don’t feel shy about taking time to look it over before trying.
  4. Avoid Peak Hours: If you’re just starting, try going during the slower hours if you can.  I find afternoons are a good time during the week as well as the weekends.
  5. Slow and Steady: When in doubt, whether it’s free weights of machines, keep it slow and steady.  If you’re trying something new, don’t go for quick, jerky movements and always keep your core tight!  When starting out, you can’t go wrong with keeping your body controlled and stable.
  6. Ask Questions: Now I’m not saying every person is going to be a good option to ask, but if you aren’t sure about something, ask someone!  Trainers or gym staff are usually happy to help (but don’t bother them if they’re training a client!).  They would much rather help you out than have you do something wrong and injure yourself!  

Gym Etiquette:

Now I have to just add this in as a side note because the weights section has certain rules of etiquette to follow:

  1. Don’t Hog: Use the machine or weights, do what you need to do and move on.  Don’t spend excess time using an area (especially during peak hours!).  This isn’t a time for texting or calling people!
  2. “How many sets do you have left?”: You want to use a machine someone is using?  Don’t be afraid to ask them this question.  It let’s them know you’re interested in using the machine too, which might motivate them to work faster or they may just offer to let you work in with them.  Either way, it’s polite.
  3. Don’t Stare: This is just a general rule of etiquette but is sometimes forgotten at the gym.  Don’t stare- it’s rude.
  4. Conversation to a Minimum: You’re there to work and other people are there to work.  Keep your chatting to a minimum and if you have to make a phone call, please step away from machines or free weights so you aren’t in the way.

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