physical therapy walking on treadmill

With the holidays fast approaching many people will experience the inevitable over-loading of plates and forced second helpings of Grandma’s desserts, though delicious they may be. With the new year closely following, inevitably many will take up their yearly oath to “be more active,” “lose weight,” or “get stronger/faster.” This is all well and good, but there are a few steps that you need to take to lessen your chances of experiencing the common pitfalls. Many people will take up these oaths and hit the gym at 1000% only to find themselves sidelined due to injury, or slowly losing steam because the goals they initially set were not reasonable, and the experience of failure over-rides their desire to continue. In order to give yourself a reasonable chance at success this time around, please follow along with this blog and perform some of the habit-forming suggestions. Soon you may find yourself well ahead of last year because this year, you have prepared.

The topics throughout the blog series will be: understanding the gym environment, exposing the myths; setting goals and creating a plan, understanding adaptations, and avoiding injury.

The first thing you need to understand if you have not been to the gym before is the environment. To some this may seem trivial, but to others the gym is an intimidating environment to step into either because of large bulky individuals grunting and dropping weights or it seeming like everyone else in the gym is already so fit! Well, this is how they got to where they are, and it can be your avenue too. Rest assured, most of the intimidation you may feel is only within your head. By understanding the environment, you can help yourself overcome this initial intimidation factor.

The first thing to understand about the environment is those very people who may intimidate you. Everyone in the gym has different goals and are currently working hard to try to attain them…just like you. Different exercises in the gym serve different purposes, with power lifting you may hear people grunting and dropping heavy weights. They are not doing it to show off (in most cases), but to conserve energy and prevent injury before their next attempt. The people who are running seemingly forever on the treadmill, they did not get to that point over night and many may have started in your shoes. They are not judging you for being in the gym, more likely is they may quietly be mentally cheering you on. You should never compare yourself to these people, the person you are working against in the gym is only your former self.

physical therapy shadow in mirror

The next thing to know about going to the gym is the do NOTS. The thing that will get many dirty looks is talking on your phone while occupying a piece of equipment. There may be someone waiting on the piece of equipment being occupied, and many gym goers are too polite to confront someone on this. This rule extends to the cardio equipment as well, nobody likes hearing someone else’s conversation over their carefully chosen playlist. Next, do not leave your equipment with weighted plates on it, if you put them on then take them off, it is part of your workout. The final do NOT is…leaving dumbbells off of the rack or putting them back on the rack where they do not belong. Please be courteous and match the numbers on the weights to the numbers on the rack. This way when you, and your fellow gym goers need it, you can spend your time lifting it rather than looking for it.

(Dumbbells on the outside, barbell in the middle)

physical therapy dumbbells

Well, those are the important notes to understanding your gym environment. The next part of this series will focus on understanding your muscles and how they move your bones (your musculoskeletal system), and then we will branch off into exposing the myths, setting goals and creating a plan, understanding adaptations, and avoiding injury.