In the coming weeks, people everywhere will take the first steps towards their new commitments. Whether it’s a commitment to acts of kindness, to visit your parents more, to do your laundry every week, or to take better care of your health, the start of a new year acts as a perceptible starting point.
It’s kind of like the most celebrated Monday of the year. “I’ll start Monday” simply becomes “In the new year, I will…” Except there is usually a lot more motivation in the new year because you are not alone. Everyone else is talking about their own goals and the energy can be contagious.
For many, hitting the gym is on the resolution list. If you’re doing so for the first time ever or getting back to the gym after a long time away, this guide is for you. We’ll tackle some real concerns like “It’s going to be too crowded,” “I don’t want to be judged,” “I don’t know how to use the equipment,” and “I don’t want to get sucked into a sales pitch.”
We understand. This is your personal guide for how to navigate your first visit to the gym.
What to Expect
At the Front Desk
When you first walk into your local LA Fitness, this is what you can expect:
If you already have a membership, simply check-in at the front desk using your mobile app. They will scan your digital Member ID for you, and you can proceed inside.
If you don’t have a membership, you can visit our website here to sign up for a Complimentary 5-Day Pass. You will need to provide your name, email address, phone number, and zip code, and will need to sign a waiver. Your Complimentary Pass will then be emailed to you.
Your first visit activates your free pass and it will stay active for 5 consecutive days. Be sure to check out this list of Gym Bag Essentials so you are prepared for your workout.
Once You’ve Been Checked In
If you check-in with a Membership, you may not be asked if you would like a tour because it’s likely you’ve already had one. If you need a refresher, feel free to ask! Then, head down to the locker room to pack your items in a locker (don’t forget your padlock) and get ready to workout.
If you check-in with a Complimentary Pass, you’re in good hands. You will be taken care of by a member of our team who will give you a tour of the facility and chat with you about your fitness goals. Yes, you may be asked if you’d like to sign up for a membership, but there is no obligation to do so. You can simply decline and choose to stick to your Complimentary Pass. Once you’re done with that, you’re free to head in and enjoy your workout!
The General Layout
Each LA Fitness location has the same general layout, but according to the size and structure of the building, the equipment may be located in different areas. One thing you can always expect to be the same, is that the equipment is grouped by type. The cardio equipment (the treadmills, ellipticals, etc.), the weight training equipment (bench press, shoulder press, etc.), will always be grouped together.
If your club has a pool, it will usually be located by the locker rooms. This makes getting to the showers a lot more direct.
If your club has a juice bar, it’s usually located near the entrance. This makes grabbing your pre- or post-workout shake easy and accessible.
The Kids Club is also typically located near the entrance.
But I’m Intimidated
It can be easy to let your mind run off with worries about what other people see in your workout. Are they judging you for your routine or for how much or how little time you spend on a machine? Are they impatiently waiting on you to figure out a machine they already know how to use and are waiting for?
Every single person in that gym was once a “first-time gym goer.” No one has ever walked into a brand-new environment and instantly understood everything about it. Bear that in mind and let the fear that someone is watching you melt away. This is your space too.
But I Won’t Know What to Do Once I’m There
All the options can be overwhelming. Narrow things down by choosing which muscle group you’d like to work on and then finding the workout space that will help you meet that need. Take a look at some of these articles for help deciding on some workouts:
- For Sculpted Shoulders
- For Strong Legs and Glutes
- For a Defined Chest: Part 1 and Part 2
- For A Shredded Six Pack
- Top 10 Most Popular Exercises and How to Do Them Properly
You can also browse through our LA Fitness YouTube Channel to watch how-to videos and get a better feel for what the gym offers.
- Work out one muscle group to start. Don’t do a full body workout on your first ever gym day or the resulting soreness will be a huge deterrent.
- Go at a comfortable pace. We promise, no one is watching you. You don’t need to “blend in” by working at a pace or level that isn’t right for you.
- Weight train before cardio. Trust us, you don’t want to try lifting weights over your head when your body is already tired from your cardio. You can warm up with light cardio but save the intense stuff for the end.
Don’t Forget That People are a Resource Too
Go with a friend who can show you the ropes or ask any of our Pro Results® Personal Trainers how to use the machine you want to work on. If they are not currently in a training session with someone, they will be glad to assist!
You can also ask someone on a machine nearby. Not everyone is actively working out at the same time. Some will be taking a brief rest period in between sets. Some are just arriving to set themselves up on a piece of equipment. Others are moving on from one machine to the next. There tends to be at least one available person who can help answer your question. However, try not to ask someone who will need to stop mid-workout to help you.
But the Gym Will Be Crowded
“I’ll stick to the treadmill. It’s familiar and at least I know how to use it.” That’s exactly what everyone else thought. So, the cardio section is probably going to be the most crowded area in the gym.
It’s also this kind of thinking that will get you stuck. Adhering to the familiar means you’re more likely to get bored, and more likely to miss out on everything else the gym makes available to you. Take advantage of your access to a fully stocked gym!
Lastly, Some Thoughts on Gym Etiquette:
Just like there are Do’s and Don’ts in nearly every public space, there are Do’s and Don’ts at the gym. Here are a few:
Do wipe down equipment if your workout left it sweaty.
Don’t ignore time limits especially during peak hours. Signs are usually posted asking guests to limit their usage of certain machines when others are waiting.
Do allow others to “work-in” (to share the equipment with you) if you plan to take long breaks between your sets. Don’t feel obligated to say yes. It’s nice if you are able to share the space, but if you don’t want to share someone else’s sweat, you don’t have to. Decline politely and let them know approximately how much time you still need.
Do communicate your interest in a machine that you’re waiting for. Doing so kindly lets the current user know that someone is waiting. Don’t hover over the person or make them feel rushed.
Do return movable gym equipment (like free weights and resistance bands) so others may easily find and use them. Don’t use movable equipment in walkways or in front of doors where you may risk your safety or someone else’s.
Any new environment can be a little bit intimidating, but don’t let that keep you from using the resources you have available to you. For more helpful information and to access our monthly blog post highlights, subscribe to our newsletter. See you in the gym!