– By Quincy Tejani –
After years of overeating and barely moving, you’ve decided it’s time to shed some pounds, gain some muscle and get lean. You may find, however, that—as with most undertakings in life—it is the first step that is the hardest to take in your fitness journey. First time gym-goers often either feel they have too little knowledge about what to do or are embarrassed to work out in a gym that’s filled with big beefy bodybuilders and cute, fit young women. This discomfort impedes many people’s attempts to begin a healthier and happier lifestyle.
When I began my own fitness journey, I had no idea what I should be doing or what would lead me to where I wanted to go. With the abundance of information available, I felt overwhelmed. I’d like to help you feel better about your first step and so I present this guide, which will make it easier to leap into your new life.
1. Recognize that we were all beginners once
The first thing that you must realize as a newbie in the fitness world is that everyone was a beginner at some point. No matter what your shape, the people who actually go to the gym regularly will understand you, relate to you and applaud you. In fact, fit and healthy people are notorious for wanting to lead others to join their clan.
If you’re very overweight, sure there might be the odd person who makes some stupid comment just like you might encounter in the mall, but for most people—get this—you are an inspiration. Yes indeed. A man I know who lost 160 pounds always thought people at the gym were saying to themselves that he didn’t belong there. He found out later that he inspired them all to go regularly; they would say to themselves, if he can get there and do his workout every day when it’s that difficult for him, then what’s my excuse?
But you don’t have to be vastly overweight to go to the gym. You just have to want to get fit. And the more you go, the more comfortable and fit you will become. Next thing you know, you’ll be the fit person that beginners are looking up to. See how this works?
Once you can understand that the “fitness stars” of the local gyms were once where you are in terms of their fitness level, you should find it a lot easier not only to get to the gym for the first time, but also to feel comfortable when you get there.
2. Understand that people are not watching you
We all think that everyone is watching every move we make when we enter the gym, but that’s simply not the case. In reality, no one is really all that worried about you, because they’re worried about themselves. They are thinking about their muscles performing, and whether their form is good and whether they’re improving. They’re thinking about how they look. They’re thinking about their own goals. For the most part, you’re the least of their concerns. If someone is watching you, it is probably just a professional trainer or a very experienced gym-goer who wants to help make sure you’re safe, not to make fun of you.
3. Make a goal
One of the most important things in motivating yourself to take the first step towards a healthier lifestyle is to have a clear goal in mind. When I see first-time gym-goers hitting the weights they often jump back and forth from machines to cardio equipment. Newbies often have no clear and distinct idea of what they actually want to achieve at the gym. Sure everyone wants to “tone up” and see some definition, but in order to do that do you want to build muscle or do you want to lose fat? If you really think about these questions and do some quick research to figure out how to accomplish your specific goals, getting to the gym in the first place and then using your time wisely while there will be much easier. And once the results start to show, it will only increase your motivation and your drive to succeed.
4. Be patient and consistent
The last and possibly the most important thing that you have to understand is that fitness has to become part of your life. Accomplishing your goals and staying there will take consistency and perseverance. Many people seem to think that looking like Schwarzenegger will take a couple of sets of curls and some pushups three times a week. Some fat loss can happen relatively quickly but for most people muscle building is a slow process that requires commitment and dedication. The sooner you realize this, the sooner you can move forward with a better understanding of how to accomplish the things you want.
Whereas for some people it’s tough to get going, others become obsessed. When people get excited about changing their lives, they sometimes get too excited and feel like they have to put in many hours to make up for not lost time. Trying to work out seven days a week for two hours a session will quickly lead to burn out, and then, more often than not, quitting. The overtrainer begins to feel resentment and hatred towards the gym, killing motivation. Overtraining can also lead to injury and illness, as your immune system works hard to build and repair your cells. For this reason, patience and smart training is a necessity for a successful introduction into the fitness world.
Becoming healthy and fit can and will be an exciting, rewarding and positive time, but be safe and smart when starting your fitness journey. These tips will make it easier to take the first step towards a better life and also to maintain your motivation and drive when you embark on your new journey.