5 tips for beginners at the gym

Denise Collman Denise Collman Health mentor/personal trainer at the Nuffield Health St Alban’s Gym
Joining the gym for the first time can be a daunting experience, regardless of your age or ability. But help is at hand. Personal Trainer Denise Collman shares her top tips on getting the best start.

1. Don’t copy others

Gym goers around you might be doing exercises prescribed for a specific injury or health condition. These exercises may not be suitable for everyone so always look to train based on your own goals and requirements. Everyone is unique and what works for one person may not work for another. 

Many people also perform exercises with bad form and technique which may increase their risk of injury, so always ask a professional for advice if you’re unsure.

2. Gradually build things up

It can be easy to throw yourself into training five days a week when you’re motivated and everything is new. However, this is likely to lead to burning out and more often than not, injury. Start by training twice a week and build up from there.

3. Be flexible and find what works

If you've never tried a class before it's worth picking one designed with beginners in mind, you can also find lower-intensity classes that are safer and more accessible for new starters.

It's also a good idea to have get a training programme written to structure your week. It means that if you can’t get to a class, you have clear guidance on what your sessions should look like to ensure you're working towards your goals. Learn more about workout plans and exercise routines here.

4. Find out what else is on offer

Gyms often provide a range of services that mean you can do more than just work out each time you visit. If you're suffering from an injury, physios can help you overcome any physical injuries that prevent you from getting the most out of your training sessions. Many locations also offer relaxation facilities like steam rooms and saunas that can turn your workout into a chance to enjoy some well earned rest.

5. Find activities that you enjoy

There is no "perfect programme”. The best training programme is the one you’ll stick to. Don't worry about what everybody else is doing. Find the activities and exercises appropriate for your goals and how you like to stay active. Looking forward to your gym visits will go a long way to ensuring that you can maintain your new lifestyle long into the future.

Gym anxiety and what you can do about it

Whilst most people feel anxious at one point or another, if you suffer with anxiety it can stop you doing and enjoying the things you want to do.

If you’re worried about what people might think of you or you are concerned you’ll look silly working out, you might be suffering with gym anxiety (or gymtimidation).

A great way for nervous people to navigate the gym is to ask for help. Gym staff are friendly people who want to make you feel comfortable and at home. It’s also important to remember that everyone was in your position once. Start slowly and don’t overburden yourself initially. You’re just starting out after all.

Doing some research on how the equipment you want to use works and where it’s located can make that very first session feel a lot less scary. Attending the gym with a friend who knows the ropes is another great way to feel more included from the get-go.

How personal training can help

Working with a personal trainer makes starting at the gym feel a lot less daunting. Having a friendly face in your corner who knows you and what you are capable of makes a world of difference.

Whether it’s building a unique workout plan or getting familiar with the equipment, personal training has something for absolutely everyone.

If you’re interested in personal training, click here to find out more

If you’re apprehensive, remember...

  • Most people are too focused on their own workout to notice you
  • Everyone was in your position once
  • You’re new – give yourself time to learn how everything works
  • Don’t dive right in if you’re not comfortable
  • Start slow and build up the duration of your workouts
  • Ask if you need help

Book a free tour at your local Nuffield Health gym

Last updated Friday 22 March 2024

First published on Tuesday 1 September 2015