One of the most popular resolutions for New Years is to get fit/lose weight/hit the gym. This means that gyms across the country have probably seen a huge influx of people these past few weeks.
Many of these people are hitting the gym for the very first time, or returning after a long hiatus. If you’re one of them, it’s important to make sure you’re not doing anything that can potentially hurt yourself or others. Here are 10 safety tips to keep you – and everyone else – a little safer at the gym.
- Get checked by a physician or doctor. Before even stepping foot into the gym, you want to make sure you’re medically fit for physical activity. It’s important to have a physician clear you, especially if you have a medical history of illness or injury. Getting a check-up also gives you an idea of where to begin in the gym, which leads to…
- Set realistic goals. Decide if you want to lose weight, build muscle or something else. Choose small goals that are challenging, but attainable. It’ll help you gain confidence and keep you returning to the gym.
- Be prepared for the gym. Wear proper clothing that is lightweight, breathable and moisture wicking. Don’t exercise on an empty stomach; always eat properly before you begin. Bring a water bottle and identify where the water fountains are so you can hydrate.
- Be friendly and courteous. Know the gym rules. Learn how to use the machines properly so you don’t hold up someone else’s workout. Place any weights you’ve used back where they came from (re-racking). Wipe down any equipment you use. In general, be courteous.
- Warm up. You’re in the gym, ready to go, but don’t just jump in. You need to warm your body up to minimize the chance of injury. Jogging, stretching or slowly doing your planned activity are good ways to warm up.
- Start with less weight. Don’t overestimate what you can do from the start and don’t do anything silly to impress a cute girl or guy. Start with the lower weights and get used to the feel. Learn how to use a machine properly. This places emphasis on the next tip…
- Use proper technique. Using less weight will allow you to focus on the proper technique for using a machine or free weight. It’ll allow you to have a more efficient and safer workout. When you get used to the exercise, gradually add more weight until you feel like it’s a comfortable challenge. If you’re a beginner, consider buying a few sessions with a personal trainer to learn the proper technique. While this can be costly, it can save you from hurting your body in the long run.
- Listen to your body. Remember, you just started working so there’s no need to exhaust yourself from the get-go. If you feel weak or tired, take a break and breathe. Don’t push yourself beyond your limits as it’ll only lead to injury. If you’re too sore and you can’t use proper technique, take a rest day and recover.
- Be alert and aware. It’s easy to forget, but you’re not the only one in the gym. Avoid dropping heavy weights and throwing dumbbells around because you might hit others. Be aware of what others are doing, so you can avoid being hurt by their carelessness.
- Cool down. After a hard workout, it’s natural to want to just sit down but you shouldn’t. Similar to a warming up, you want your body to safely get back into a normal rhythm. Try doing a light jog, walking around or a few stretches to settle your body down.
The gym can be daunting and scary at first, but it’s not. Plan ahead, don’t try to overdo it and be courteous. Follow the rest of the tips here to keep yourself and others safe. Good luck with your resolutions!
Have any other tips for the new members to the gym? Share them in the comments below!