How Do I Gym?

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Hi :). I'm new here. I have been working out at a gym (YMCA) for the past week.. and I can honestly say I am lost. I spend most of the time I'm there wandering and trying to figure out how to operate a machine. I usually stick to the "safe" things, like a stationary bike, elliptical, or treadmill. I've successfully used the rowing machine and a few other pieces of equipment, but that's about it.

My main issue is that I want to be lifting weights, but I have no idea how. I don't know what proper form is, and I'm terrified people are going to look at me and be laughing on the inside (or worse, OUTSIDE) because I have no idea what I'm doing. I'm very weak. What weights I've tried I struggle at anything over 12 lbs. I get very shaky, is that bad? How do I know what to use, or if I'm doing it right? What's the best way to start out?
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Replies

  • tattoogrrl28
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    I'm actually in the exact same boat as you (even the same gym!). So I'd be interested in the answer as well.
  • madhatter2013
    madhatter2013 Posts: 1,547 Member
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    I'll tell you a secret...The other people at the gym don't care about you or what you're doing. If you are unsure about how to operate a machine, ask the trainers or staff. They are trained on those machines and (at least at my YMCA) they don't judge. They are there to help.
  • AmyZ46
    AmyZ46 Posts: 694 Member
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    Do you have any friends that lift ?If not , I would watch other people who lift ,mostly I would watch women and ask questions . Not too many because some people only have time to do their work out and get to work but one or two questions wont hurt and the worst they can do is ignore you ...lol

    also look at you tube videos on form and how to start off . You could hire a trainer but that's pricy ? I started and realized I had no clue on how my form was either , there were guys that were more than willing to help but since I am a woman I wanted a woman to tell me how I should work out ?>my preference . I was worried that men would work out differently and they all had different ideas and I was getting confused .

    Also you need to know what you are working out to gain - do you want to bulk up or just get stronger ?

    Some people are more than willing to help you ,I hope you find your answers soon .


    Amy
  • hastingsmassage
    hastingsmassage Posts: 162 Member
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    ASK THE STAFF :)
  • JoRocka
    JoRocka Posts: 17,525 Member
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    ASK THE STAFF :)

    not their job.

    eduate yourself- there is the internet- google- bodybuilding.com, nerdfitness, fitnessblender.com

    more importantly
    Starting Strength
    Strong lifts
    Strong Curves
    New Rules of Lifting.

    The best way to learn to do something is learn to do the thing- there are plenty of things to read out there- get your hands on them and get educated- that will make you feel more comfortable and save you a lot of time.

    Read
    Educate
    Pick some goals-
    read
    educate yourself some more
    Practice your form at home- even with a broom stick
    watch while you are doing your cardio- watch the weight room- watch what people do- how the interact- where stuff goes
    go at off peak hours
    write down what you want to do
    go in and do it.


    Then Go forth- and be fabulous
  • madhatter2013
    madhatter2013 Posts: 1,547 Member
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    ASK THE STAFF :)

    not their job.

    Actually, at a YMCA, it is their job. But I do agree that everyone should look up videos and educate themselves on proper form and safety for all gym machines.
  • JoRocka
    JoRocka Posts: 17,525 Member
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    ASK THE STAFF :)

    not their job.

    Actually, at a YMCA, it is their job. But I do agree that everyone should look up videos and educate themselves on proper form and safety for all gym machines.

    maybe to teach you how to use equipment- but not give you a program or give you a full workout- that's why they have trainers.

    But I haven't been to a Y in years- maybe every staff member is a trianer- who knows. But typically no- it's not their job.
  • madhatter2013
    madhatter2013 Posts: 1,547 Member
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    ASK THE STAFF :)

    not their job.

    Actually, at a YMCA, it is their job. But I do agree that everyone should look up videos and educate themselves on proper form and safety for all gym machines.

    maybe to teach you how to use equipment- but not give you a program or give you a full workout- that's why they have trainers.

    But I haven't been to a Y in years- maybe every staff member is a trianer- who knows. But typically no- it's not their job.

    Yes, you are absolutely right. I generalized in my comment. Most of the staff are there to show you how to use the machines and make sure your safe. Not every employee is a trainer, however, they do have some trainers there sometime and you can get on their schedule to have them show you a routine, or you can pay extra to have a personal trainer whenever you come in.
  • lilRicki
    lilRicki Posts: 4,555 Member
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    Youtube, New Rules of Lifting, Stronglifts, google, heavy lifters at your gym, heavy lifters here, more youtube, more reading, and trying it out.
  • Will_Thrust_For_Candy
    Will_Thrust_For_Candy Posts: 6,109 Member
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    ASK THE STAFF :)

    not their job.

    eduate yourself- there is the internet- google- bodybuilding.com, nerdfitness, fitnessblender.com

    more importantly
    Starting Strength
    Strong lifts
    Strong Curves
    New Rules of Lifting.

    The best way to learn to do something is learn to do the thing- there are plenty of things to read out there- get your hands on them and get educated- that will make you feel more comfortable and save you a lot of time.

    Read
    Educate
    Pick some goals-
    read
    educate yourself some more
    Practice your form at home- even with a broom stick
    watch while you are doing your cardio- watch the weight room- watch what people do- how the interact- where stuff goes
    go at off peak hours
    write down what you want to do
    go in and do it.


    Then Go forth- and be fabulous

    +1

    Youtube is a wonderful thing. Also don't worry about what you can lift now, we all started somewhere :) and for sure no one else therebcares what you look like while you are training! You got this!
  • misskerouac
    misskerouac Posts: 2,242 Member
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    Look up videos on Youtube

    The book New Rules of Lifting for Women is quite good

    Book an appointment with a trainer to show you proper form. I book "weight training" sessions with a trainer every 8 weeks or so where she gives me a new routine, shows me proper form for the exercise and i get a sheet with all the exercises, what weight, how many reps and sets. If I have questions I can email her. It costs me 35$ each 1 hr session and it's SO worth it. It's a bit different then a "personal training" session as she is not there to cheer me on or yell at me to push harder or anything like that. It is basically here is your new routine, this is how you do the exercises, lets' run through all of them, see you next time.
  • Krista916
    Krista916 Posts: 258
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    Definitely ask the staff. I was a YMCA member for many years and upon joining they actually assigned me a trainer and made me go through all the machines before I was aloud to go on my own. They will help you with form if that is your concern, they should be able to give you a good idea of what weight you should start at. They are most helpful and it's a good place to start.
  • kdeaux1959
    kdeaux1959 Posts: 2,675 Member
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    Get with the desk staff... They will help orient you to the equipment. Some will foo-foo on what I'm going to say but when first starting out, there is no shame in using machine weights... That is how I started and I still do quite a bit of that along with my free weights... Free weights are better for more established individuals but they can be daunting for those with no experience... The machine weights will help you get started and they DO HAVE VALUE... No matter what some of the free weight only crowd would say. Eventually, you will want to add a personal training session or two to get a good program. Here are a few keys though.

    1. Never work the same muscle group two days in a row... I work back/biceps then triceps/chest/shoulders, then legs... repeat. Core is a different type of muscle so you can do that everyday.

    2. Form over weight... Start where you are. Don't try to compete with somebody and don't be intimidated... Just do what you can... It will take time.

    3. If in doubt, ask... Most of us are more than willing to help newcomers... We WANT you to succeed. If you get somebody that is a jerk, they own that problem, not you... Get with somebody else.

    Best wishes on your every success.
  • annabird09
    annabird09 Posts: 2 Member
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    Do you have any friends that lift ?If not , I would watch other people who lift ,mostly I would watch women and ask questions . Not too many because some people only have time to do their work out and get to work but one or two questions wont hurt and the worst they can do is ignore you ...lol

    also look at you tube videos on form and how to start off . You could hire a trainer but that's pricy ? I started and realized I had no clue on how my form was either , there were guys that were more than willing to help but since I am a woman I wanted a woman to tell me how I should work out ?>my preference . I was worried that men would work out differently and they all had different ideas and I was getting confused .

    Also you need to know what you are working out to gain - do you want to bulk up or just get stronger ?

    Some people are more than willing to help you ,I hope you find your answers soon .


    Amy

    I don't have any friends that lift, sadly. I try to watch people, but I'm scared of coming off as creepy for staring haha. I'd prefer asking another lady as well, but there's rarely any women there that lift weights (when I go, at least). Asking a rather large bulky male to tell me how to lift seems intimidating. The employees show you how to use machines, but don't really say what I should be lifting or how to work out to get the results I want. I really just want to get stronger. I don't have a desire to lose weight or bulk up.
  • ncrugbyprop
    ncrugbyprop Posts: 96 Member
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    As for actual weight training, start with machines to get comfortable with just working out, with the eventual goal of getting into free weight training and more compound lifts. As people have previously mentioned, there are numerous web sites dedicated to strength programs for beginners. Bodybuilding.com has an list of excercises, the muscle groups, instructions and videos for good form cover about every lift imaginable.

    Also, if trainers/staff are not availible, most gym rats, meatheads, or meatheadettes you see regularly are happy to answer specific questions or help with form. Just don't ask, what you need to do to make X body part firm up but not to much because you don't want to get too big :)

    Best of luck to you.
  • JoRocka
    JoRocka Posts: 17,525 Member
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    doesn't matter- men and women train the same. When you are doing your cardio- watch them- it's pretty normal.

    But you can do a heck of a lot of research in advance so you don't have to feel so self conscious.

    Knowledge will make you certain of yourself- so you don't feel scared or unsure. Once you know what you need to do- you can go in and do the darn thing and not worry because you KNOW you are correct.
    Free weights are better for more established individuals but they can be daunting for those with no experience...
    I have found machines to be more time consuming- and more intimidating to people- sure it's easier- but even I feel self conscious trying to figure out how to use some of those machines. mostly because I'm standing there for like 10 minutes trying to read the damn diagram.

    Vs loads of videos/tutorials on how to perform simple compound movements that require only a squat rack/powder cage and a barbell.

    yes machines have their advantages- but I wouldn't say they go any further into making someone feel more comfortable.
  • thomaszabel
    thomaszabel Posts: 203 Member
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    I agree with asking staff and researching, but check out this link:

    http://www.fitnessblender.com/v/article-detail/Weight-Machine-Workout-Routines-Printable-Gym-Workout-Plans/c2/

    It gives you a basic plan and lists the machines so you can alternate between upper and lower body strength training. Print it out and ask the staff to show you those machines if you don't know which ones they are. And ask the staff or others there how to use each one if you don't know.

    As far as number of sets, and number of reps to do in each set, that is up to you, but do yourself a favor. Start with very light weight. It takes a few workouts for your body to get used to the motions and using some of those muscles in new ways. Your first workout should have such light weight that you think it is ridiculously easy. But then in future workouts you start slowly upping the weight until you get to what is good for you. If you start out with even a "moderate" amount of weight on the first day, your muscles will be stiff and on fire when you wake up.
  • Morgaath
    Morgaath Posts: 679 Member
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    1) Checkout a website called Fitocracy.com. It is like MFP, but for working out, plus they gameify it (You get points, level up, badges for doing stuff). Tons of groups you can join, just pick an interest. And lots of folks willing to help guide you.

    2) What the others said about youtube, strong lifts, starting strength, etc. Educate yourself, and feel free to ask questions of folks. The worse they are going to do is say no. Asked a guy last night if I was doing squats right, as he had just finished doing his sets. He pointed out something I need to work on. I said thanks, and he went his way.

    A year ago I had not a clue about what I was doing. Spent the first 8 months doing what you are doing, making it up as I went, sticking to the machines because they were safe. Started reading up, learning about this and that, changing how I did stuff. Last night I got dropped off, and then spent 1.5hrs at the gym lifting free weights, and then walked/ran the 4.1miles home. Today I hurt in good ways.
  • kagevf
    kagevf Posts: 509 Member
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    lots of good answers above

    someone said stronglifts and watch on you tube are a great start to educate yourself.
    proper form is important so you wont hurt yourself.
  • cwolfman13
    cwolfman13 Posts: 41,868 Member
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    ASK THE STAFF :)

    not their job.

    eduate yourself- there is the internet- google- bodybuilding.com, nerdfitness, fitnessblender.com

    more importantly
    Starting Strength
    Strong lifts
    Strong Curves
    New Rules of Lifting.

    The best way to learn to do something is learn to do the thing- there are plenty of things to read out there- get your hands on them and get educated- that will make you feel more comfortable and save you a lot of time.

    Read
    Educate
    Pick some goals-
    read
    educate yourself some more
    Practice your form at home- even with a broom stick
    watch while you are doing your cardio- watch the weight room- watch what people do- how the interact- where stuff goes
    go at off peak hours
    write down what you want to do
    go in and do it.


    Then Go forth- and be fabulous

    Just belaboring this point. You should be doing an actual routine as you do not have the requisite knowledge to program your own...that takes a whole lot of experience and even then, most people do variants of pre-existing tried and true routines...no need to re-invent the wheel so to speak.

    doing one of these programs will tell you what lifts to do, when to do them, how many days per week to do them, when to rest, when to increase your weight, etc.