I used to be a gym rat. I went 5-6 days a week religiously. I went to a dumpy little cave of a gym that I grew up going to. Its where my parents went from the time I was little. I knew every machine, every dumbbell, and the routines of most of the other regulars. It was my territory – I felt like I owned the place. Then one day my gym shut down and I had to find a new one. Great, I thought, I’ll pick up right where I left off. Wrong. Going to a new gym felt like starting from scratch. Sure, I knew how to exercise but being in a new place was uncomfortable. It had different equipment, a different layout, a different mentality, and I didn’t like it…at first.
After a few months, though, it became MY gym.
Because I went outside my comfort zone, tried new things, stuck with it, and made it my gym.
Likewise, you need to make it YOUR gym. Here’s how…
Whether you’re brand new to the gym scene, or if you’ve been before and are starting up again, it can feel intimidating and even overwhelming – especially if you aren’t quite sure about what exactly to do when you’re there. Maybe you feel comfortable on the elliptical machine and that is your go-to spot. But what if it’s taken? Now what? Or what if you’ve been training on the elliptical regularly for a month and stop seeing results?
Perhaps your body has adapted to the exercise it is familiar with and by continuing, you aren’t pushing it any further. To get results you want, sooner or later you have to step out of your comfort zone and learn some new exercises.
After venturing out and exploring new equipment and new exercises, pretty soon you will gain more confidence.
Where To Start
Here are 6 steps to take to follow to step out of your comfort zone and start a new workout routine:
- Warm up on a treadmill, elliptical, or stationary bike. Spend 10-15 minutes going easy to get the blood flowing and muscles ready for activity.
- Head over to the resistance machines or free weights. If you’re doing this alone and don’t have much experience, I recommend starting on machines for safety. They put you in a position that supports your back, they guide your arms or legs in the proper direction, and eliminate the possibility of dropping a weight on your toe. Most gyms have a row of machines that strengthen each major muscle group. First, familiarize yourself with the machine by reading the instructions attached to it. Set the weight to a light load and try a few repetitions.
- Work your major muscle groups: chest, shoulders, Back, Biceps, Triceps, Glutes, Quads, Hamstrings, Calves.
- Do 1 set of 10-15 repetitions on each machine. That’s it? Yes. This is your first day. Believe me, you will feel is tomorrow and probably the next day.
- Head back to the cardio machines and try one that you didn’t use in Step 1. Again, go easy for 5-10 minutes just to cool down.
- Stretch. There is probably a “stretching area” somewhere in the gym with a place for you to get on the ground with a mat. Spend 5-10 minutes stretching. This will help the muscles you just tensed up to relax and lengthen.
Not too bad, right? After your first successful workout, now what?
Steps After the Workout
Take the next day off, maybe walk a bit, and stretch some more. The following day (assuming you’re not sore), go back for round 2. Do the same thing but maybe add a little more weight to each machine. Or try some new machines. Do this workout 2-3 times the first week. You can also add in a full cardio workout on a couple of days, as well.
The next week, add another set to each exercise. So now you’d be doing 2 sets of each exercise. Each week you can add a set and some weight as your body can tolerate it. You can also add some time and intensity to your cardio. Each workout, try incorporating one or two new exercises in place of others you’ve been doing.
Spend a month or two getting your body used to working out. Then you can venture over to the free weights and give those a try. You may need some direction here, so it might be a good idea to ask a friend or hire a knowledgeable personal trainer for 1 or 2 sessions. Tell her that your goal is to learn basic exercises for the major muscle groups. Emphasize that you would like to work on form. At this point, you don’t want to have someone push you to your limit when you don’t know what you are doing.
Increased intensity comes after you have mastered the proper form of the exercises.
Stick With It
If this has got you shaking your head in fear or self-doubt, you are in good company. Everyone feels this way when they start. I felt this way when I joined a new gym even after I’d been going to another gym for years.
It won’t be easy. Sorry. But, then again, nothing is at first.
It won’t be easy physically.
You have to push through that introductory period before your body gets used to the feeling of being repeatedly broken down and built back up.
It won’t be easy mentally.
If, at first you feel insecure and afraid, in a few months you will feel empowered and bold. You need to make each section of the gym YOUR territory. Your turf. You will own it. And no one will mess with you.
Even though it isn’t easy, it can be fun.
Make it fun. Work out with a friend. Put together a playlist of your favorite songs. Listen to podcasts or audiobooks. Watch Netflix while you’re on the bike. This is Your time – use it well.
The more comfortable you get stepping out of your comfort zone, the better results you’ll see and the more fun it you’ll have.
This is Part 2 of a 2 Part series entitled The Beginner’s Guide to Working Out. To Read Part 1 Click here.
Question: Where are you stuck in your workout comfort zone? What are you afraid of trying? You can leave a comment by clicking here.