Starting Gyms in the New Year

I want to follow up on a tweet thread. One of my 2020 goals is to post more content on this site, so why not get started a little early?

You're allowed to take up space

When I first started going I tried to stick to stuff that was always empty. I avoided the "weight room" because I felt like that's where "real" gym members went. You pay the same fees they do, break out of your comfort zone and try new stuff.

I generally walk in to the gym with a small towel, water bottle, my workout sheet, and a pen. First thing I do is look at what equipment I'll need and stake my claim if it's empty. If you're experimenting with new things, take a friend and try stuff out. Any time you're using a new machine or piece of equipment try to do a few reps with empty weight and add gradually. Having a friend standing over you will make sure that if you have trouble they can help (please, be careful).

Start easy, Take breaks between sets

A lot of people overestimate where they should be at strength wise. Start with a low weight and tell yourself how many reps you're going to do each set (I generally do 20-12-12 at different weights). It's more important to hit your reps than the weight.

If you look online you can probably find some good beginner workouts or apps that give you a plan. Saying: "I'm going to do X workout Y times" gives you something very specific to accomplish, and feels better than aimlessly using machines and weights.

Trying to force the workouts out quickly will be tiring and probably leave you very sore. Resting between allows your muscles to recuperate and give you similar power across workouts.

Walking in is more important than staying

Don't force yourself to stay longer than you want to. The most important habit early on is changing into your clothes and going to the gym. If you stay only for 15 minutes and leave, you still went to the gym that day.

I just finished reading Atomic Habits and James Clear made the very astute point that we need to break down our habits into manageable chunks. Start with something that takes 5 minutes, that's pretty easy.

If your goal is to go to the gym everyday for 1 hour, the days you don't have an hour will feel like losses and you won't go.

If you have a busy day but can fit in a 5 minute walk on the treadmill, you're still practicing the behavior of changing into your gym clothes and going to the gym. That's still a win in my book.

Watch workouts online // Get a trainer

If you're unsure of how to do some workouts I'd recommend watching videos or getting a trainer. Trainers are expensive, but even 2-3 sessions will help educate you on how to use the equipment and weights safely.

You can also watch videos online of how to do certain workouts. They usually tell you exactly what muscles you should be feeling and any caveats that come along with the workout.