Millions of people around the world go to the gym, for a wide range of reasons. Some even go every day. All of them, though, have one thing in common: they started somewhere. Among the billions of people in the world, millions of them want to improve themselves whether it be others’ perception of them, their self-image, health, or something else. Not everyone knows where to start though, and many refuse to go because of many excuses that they tell themselves. Going to the gym may seem like a chore, but it becomes a lifestyle if you go often and have the dedication that many others do not. To go to the gym, you have to start somewhere. Most importantly, you need to know why you want to go.

There’s many reasons to go, but to narrow it down to a few:

  1. You can go to feel better about yourself.
  2. It can be a new hobby for you.
  3. You can improve your health.
  4. You can even get over traumatic experiences with it.

One thing to note is that you should never go to the gym because someone does not like how you look. If they dislike your appearance, who cares? Your appearance should only matter to you. So if that’s not your reason, then you should prepare some things in advance to start going.

First: find a gym to go. If you want to go to Planet Fitness, you should not be going to the gym. If you don’t want to find a dedicated gym just yet, you can begin by working out at home. There’s squats, ab workouts, pull-ups, and many other exercises that don’t require special equipment. Before you even start going, you can start working on your form to perform exercises safely one you start going. Look at some options near your home that you can get to easily, then find what’s in your budget. I personally go to Gold’s Gym: the community is nice and the equipment is quality, but take a look at reviews and make a smart choice. Try to tag along with a friend that already has a membership to see if you like the location, and if you do, then purchase your membership.

A Gold’s Gym location

Purchase a gym bag. This will be your best friend for every single gym visit. Some common things that will be in any gym bag: a bottle of water, a towel, a change of clothes, a shaker, pre-workout, and workout gear. Those last three aren’t relevant for beginners, but you can now lug around all of your necessities in one bag.

Try to set up a schedule. When are you able to go? What are you going to do on those days? If you’re just starting out, knowing what to do is not relevant but on those days that you do go, try everything and find what’s comfortable. Search up videos for proper form to prevent injury and practice common courtesy. Common courtesy includes, but is not limited to: minding others around you, use headphones when listening to music, leave something by the machine you’re at to let others know that you’re using it, don’t use a machine if someone has left something behind on it, etc. In general, be kind, don’t judge, and if you need it, ask for help. Everybody is here for their own reason and you need to respect that.

Find a workout partner. If you can find someone that you know who already goes to the gym, the transition will be much smoother and more comfortable for you because you’re with someone you know. They can guide you to machines that might be more comfortable for you, teach you proper form, encourage you, and spot you for your lifts. Most importantly, a partner will encourage you to keep going. Some days you might wake up and say “I don’t want to go today” and you’ll stay in bed, but with a workout partner, they’ll drive to your house, go up to your room and drag your butt out of bed (thanks, Marcus) to get you to go. They’ll be there to motivate you and get you out of bed in the morning.

Prepare your body and your mind. The gym is an ecosystem and every component is necessary. Speaking from personal experience, the first day will most likely be HELL. (Especially if you have a partner.) First things first, do not eat anything before you go, and if you do eat, eat very light. Have something like a granola bar or some low-fat yogurt, but do not eat toast and eggs with a side of bacon and orange juice or you will throw up. Take it easy, don’t overestimate yourself and try to do the most strenuous workouts on the first day. I made the mistake of eating heavy and trying to do hard cardio (thanks to my partner) and I threw up within minutes.

Don’t underestimate yourself, either. You may not feel it, but you have explosive strength inside of you that just needs to be released. If you feel tired, take a break, drink some water, and try to do some more. If you just can’t do anymore, that’s fine, it was enough that you went. Make sure that you stretch before your workouts to get the blood flowing and loosen your body or you’ll be like a brick trying to be twisted.

And one last thing, don’t be scared. Very rarely will anyone judge you for poor performance because they’re just proud that you joined the community. Don’t be afraid that you’re going to get laughed out of the building because frankly, nobody cares. If you need help, just ask. Even ask the biggest guy in the gym, because most people there are nice as heck and don’t mind helping you out even with little things. Some people may even give you tips in the middle of you working out. Don’t take it as an insult; they are genuinely trying to help you and prevent you from getting hurt. Thank them and try to use those tips. Also, if the thought crosses your mind, compliment someone. I’ve complimented many people’s tattoos and PRs and they’ve all appreciated it and smiled, so there’s no reason not to. Everyone is there for their own reason and so are you, so be respectful and go JIM.