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A first-time gym goers guide

Deciding it is time to join the gym can be both exciting and overwhelming, especially if you're stepping into a gym for the first time. Knowing what to expect, what to bring and how to build exercise into a sustainable schedule will certainly help to build your confidence and get you started. So, in this comprehensive guide, we'll cover everything you need to know as a first-time gym goer, from frequency and duration of workouts to essential items to bring, what to expect from your initial assessment with a personal trainer and more. 


Cardio equipment set up in a gym in Barnstaple

What should I bring to the gym?

  • A water bottle - hydration is key during workouts, so be sure to bring a reusable water bottle to stay hydrated throughout your gym session.

  • Your phone - our training app helps you through all aspects of your workout, featuring how-to videos for all exercises, custom training plans, rep counts, progress tracking nutrition tracking and more, so make sure you bring your phone along charged to use all of these perks.

  • Suitable clothing - you should wear comfortable, breathable clothing that allows for freedom of movement. Opt for moisture-wicking fabrics to help keep you dry and comfortable during your workout.

  • In our gym, there is always music on in the background to keep your energy levels high, but you’re welcome to bring your own headphones if you find this helps you to get in the zone.


That’s pretty much all you need to get started!


Should I wear different shoes for different exercises?

While you can wear the same shoes for most gym activities, certain exercises may benefit from specific footwear. For example:


  • Running trainers are ideal for cardio activities such as running on the treadmill or using the elliptical machine.

  • Cross-trainers are versatile shoes suitable for a variety of activities, including strength training, group fitness classes, and light cardio.

  • Lifting shoes offer stability and support for heavy lifting exercises such as squats and deadlifts, with a flat sole and elevated heel to improve squat mechanics and help to keep your balance. 


Choose shoes that fit well, provide adequate support, and are appropriate for the activities you'll be doing. When you’re getting started, there’s no need to overthink your trainers, as long as they are comfortable you can get started. Then, as you progress through your training program you may decide to invest in more specialised trainers depending on your needs.


Deadlift bar for strength training

How often should I go to the gym?

One of the core questions we get asked time and time again is ‘how often should I go to the gym?’. The truth is, there’s no one size fits all approach to the frequency of your workouts, but it is essential to strike a balance between consistency and recovery. Aim to go to the gym between two and four days per week, allowing for rest days in between to allow your muscles to recover and adapt to the new stimulus. As you progress, you can gradually increase the frequency of your workouts if desired, but be sure to listen to your body and avoid overtraining. If you’re only able to consistently go to the gym once per week when getting started, it’s far better to opt for consistency than squeezing 5 gym sessions into one week and not stepping foot in the gym for the next 5 weeks afterwards. 


How long should my gym workouts be?

The duration of your workouts will depend on your fitness level, goals, and schedule. A typical beginner's workout session can range from 30 to 60 minutes, including a warm-up, strength or cardio exercises, and cool-down stretches. Focus on quality over quantity, ensuring that each exercise is performed with proper form and intensity and try not to get too hung up on the exact length of time you are training for. Some days the time will fly by and you’ll barely notice an hour, whilst other days it may feel like a bit of a slog, and this is completely natural. 


Dumbbell rack for strength training exercises

What is strength training?

Strength training uses resistance, through bands, free weights and body weight to put pressure on the body to improve muscle mass, strength and stability. Whilst a common misconception is that strength training will make you bulky, it’s a fantastic tool for weight loss, prevention and management of osteoporosis and improving your overall fitness. We’ve got a comprehensive guide to strength training for you here to help you get started.


What to expect from your initial assessment with a personal trainer

If you're new to the gym or unsure where to start, scheduling an initial assessment with a personal trainer can be incredibly beneficial. This will help the trainer build a plan with your needs in mind and set a baseline for where your fitness levels lie currently. A few of the key things that we’ll cover in your initial assessment include with one of our personal trainers in Barnstaple:


  • Goal Setting - we’ll discuss your fitness goals, preferences, and any limitations or concerns you may have.

  • Fitness evaluation - we’ll complete a workout designed to evaluate your current fitness level, test your strength training limits and start to learn about the exercises you enjoy, and which ones feel more of a struggle. They’ll also be able to assess your form and make sure you’re completing each movement safely.

  • Gym equipment introduction - we will show you the range of equipment available in the gym with a brief overview of what muscles each one targets and how to use it.

  • Creating a training plan - after the session, based on your goals and assessment results, your personal trainer will create a personalised workout plan tailored to your needs and preferences which you’ll be able to access through our app. 

Personal trainer in Barnstaple, North Devon

By following the guidelines outlined in this guide, including setting realistic goals, attending the gym regularly and seeking guidance from a personal trainer, you'll be well-equipped to embark on your fitness journey with confidence. Remember to listen to your body, stay consistent, and celebrate your progress along the way. With dedication and determination, you'll be well on your way to achieving your fitness goals and enjoying the many benefits of a healthy, active lifestyle. If you’re looking for a gym in Barnstaple, why not come and take a look at our facility which offers a quiet and high-end space for you to work towards your goals?


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