There’s something absolutely thrilling about being a beginner. It can also be downright terrifying. The gym is one of those places where we can feel deeply out of our comfort zone, and it can take us a while to find our rhythm, and figure out all the little details that can help switch our experience from daunting to empowering.
With this in mind, we’ve asked members of the GGS Community to share some of the elements and items that help make their life easier at the gym.
Choosing the right gym can certainly be an important step in your journey, and you should take the time to look at the options you have instead of letting persuasive marketing tactics pressure you to sign up at the very first place that you come across.
Take the time to draft a list of what you’re looking for in terms of feel and equipment, in order to be better equipped to ask the questions that matter. Does the gym have barbells and squat racks? Kettlebells? Suspension trainers? Is the weights-to-cardio equipment ratio in line with what you’re looking for?
If you’re someone who enjoys group classes, what are the classes offered and at what times? Conversely, if you’re looking to train solo, the number of classes offered shouldn’t factor into your choice (despite what motivated salespeople may want you to think).
What about the staff? Are they kind and approachable? Friendly without being so chatty that it’s distracting you from your workout? What’s the overall vibe of the place when you visit?
“Gyms are intimidating places to be; I’ve trained in some that are really clicky. I once had a 12-month membership at one place and didn’t speak to or have eye contact with a single member in that period despite going on average three times each week!” — Emma
Take the time to factor in these elements with some of the most crucial ones, including your budget and your schedule, and you’ll be equipped to make a more informed choice.
What Do You Bring to the Gym?
So you’ve made your choice, and you’re ready to go! You have your gym bag packed: workout clothes, underwear, socks, training shoes, toiletries… you’re good to go, right?
Sometimes, we can realize either before, during or after our workout, that we’re missing an item that could have made our life so much easier. Curious to know what? Here’s what members of the GGS Community had to say.
“Nothing zaps my energy more than even a slight thirst. Staying properly hydrated, especially during a workout, is so important.” — Kristin
While most gyms will have water available in one form or another, having to walk back and from the drinking fountain in between sets can be distracting, especially if you’re short on time or if you want to keep your eyes on the equipment you’re currently using.
Having a water bottle on hand can not only help you stay hydrated throughout your workout, but you can also use it to gauge how much you’ve been drinking, and have a better idea of you overall water intake.
“It has many uses! Obviously, it aids in hydration overall, but it also helps to pause and take a sip between sets to mentally prep myself for the next round. It is also helpful to set it with my towel by whatever equipment I’m using, in case I’m doing circuits, as it alerts others it’s in use.” — Susanna
While many gyms have some music playing, it may not necessarily be to your liking. Or you may appreciate creating your own little “bubble,” free of distractions, in which you can more easily focus on the task at hand, instead of mulling over work interactions or tasks awaiting you at home.
“Music is 100 percent linked to my emotions, so just a song can get me motivated to move during cardio or help me focus when I’m struggling. It also helps me block out distractions.” — Charlotte
Wireless headphones have also found favor among our community members
“I was recently gifted some Bluetooth headphones. I’m one of those clumsy ones who ends up getting the cord all tangled until it rips the headphones from my ears, so this has been a dream!” — Tess
Depending on your gym’s locker room situation, bringing your own padlock can be a good idea — both for security and peace of mind. Be aware that many places won’t let you keep a personal lock on a locker at all times, so remember to empty your locker fully and take your padlock with you once you leave.
“Worrying about whether or not someone is going to steal my stuff while I’m working out is not the motivating mindset I want to have, nor do I like carrying my keys with me to every machine.” — Kristen
While many gyms do provide some way of wiping down the equipment before and after use, bringing your own sweat towel can be a good idea.
“It mops up sweat before it goes into your eyes and hurts, it provides an opportunity to bury your head in something during a particular tough workout, you can wipe down equipment with it, and it makes you look cool!” — Candice
Workout Tracking System
Let’s face it: this sounds a lot fancier than it has to be! Whether you like tracking the old fashioned way with a pen and paper journal, or you like using technology to do so, a workout journal is a great way to keep track of your program for the day, as well as load and rep progressions for any given exercise.
If you like having all the information you need on one single device — not to mention music too — you can use your smartphone to that effect as well.
(This is why we provide digital and physical workout journals with all of our Get Results training programs! Join the pre-sale list so you’re the first to know when it’s available again!)
For anyone with long hair, comfort and concentration during a workout can be seriously compromised in the absence of a proper hair restraining solution.
“Not having a hair tie is the one item that will cause me up turn around and leave. I have a lot of hair, so doing a workout without being able to put it up is a no go.” — Cassie
Tip for coaches and gym owners: if you work with women, keeping some hair ties available for them to use is one of the easiest and least expensive things you can do to ensure your clients’ comfort.
“I sweat a lot. Stopping mid set so you can wipe sweat out of your eyes gets annoying after the 16th time.” — Stephanie
Whether it’s to keep your hair in place, help with sweat management or both, a properly-fitting headband can go a long way to ensure a more comfortable, distraction-free workout.
“A soft, stretchy one is great since you can wrap it around your wrist until you need it. I use it as a scrunchy when I’m doing cardio, but then wear it as a proper headband when I lift — I can’t stand having ponytails bulging at the back of my head when lying on my back doing bench work.” — Susanna
Wearing gloves or not can be a point of contention among lifters. While many advocate for the benefit of having well-maintained callused hands, others simply can’t stand the feel of hardened skin. At the end of the day, it can simply be a question of personal preference.
Regardless of your beliefs, gloves can be an interesting option if your hands become a restricting factor, preventing you from completing your workout when the rest of your body is quite capable to keep going.
“Protecting my hands while lifting is important. Not to mention I feel like a badass superhero when I put them on!” — Stephanie
If you choose to go without gloves, as many do, chalk can be an interesting option.
“Without it I find by my second or third set my hands are really sweaty and I lose grip easily.” — Tracy
Some gyms have a no-chalk policy, to minimize particles in the air and on the equipment (and on the floor, and on other members), which is where liquid chalk can come in very handy. The particles are suspended in a quick-drying alcohol-based liquid, which leaves you with the grip, but not the mess.
While you can find some resistance bands in many gyms, they are among the items that tend to break or get lost the most easily, so many people choose to bring their own. Resistance bands are pretty inexpensive, and can help modify many exercises.
“Minibands can add extra feedback around legs for work in hips & glutes but also around arms for push-ups or pull-aparts. Large looped bands can also be used for full body work.” — Nicole
If you enjoy using the jump rope as a conditioning tool, bringing your own may be a good option. While some gyms have them, they may not always be available, or be of the quality that you want. A jump rope takes very little space in a gym bag, can be found inexpensively, and yet can be a powerful component in your workout.
If you’re working on a tight schedule — exercising during your lunch break, for example — wet wipes can be a game changer when you’re running out of time.
“It sounds silly, but I used to avoid the gym because I didn’t figure I’d have time to shower. I’ve found that for all but the sweatiest of workouts (and those are the minority by a lot) the wipes are sufficient for a quick wipe down.” — Tess