New to the gym? 7 Tips for First Time Success

By: Mollie Shauger | Thursday, December 19, 2019 | Fitness

A woman lifting weights is assisted by another woman. Credit: iStock

Stepping into any gym or fitness center for the first time can be overwhelming, from the machines and equipment, to the schedules of programs offered. Whether you’re new to a gym, or returning to one after a hiatus, here are some tips for getting the most out of your time. 

1. Make connections

Connect with either the fitness director or a trainer in the fitness center. They can help familiarize you with the equipment, connect you with other members, and advise you on the best way to achieve your fitness goals by using your time effectively, says Cathy Scutti, Fitness and Wellness director at the Wayne YMCA, a branch of the Metropolitan YMCA of the Oranges.

2. Come prepared

Always bring a water bottle and wear comfortable clothes, Scutti says. It’s important to replenish the water your body loses when sweating. The American Council on Exercise advises drinking 7 to 10 ounces of fluid every 10 to 20 minutes during exercise. Choose loose clothing so you have the right amount of movement to exercise correctly and comfortably, suggests

3. Sign up for programs and classes

Sign up for group exercise classes to spice up your fitness routine and meet new people. Also, take advantage of introductory sessions with personal trainers or wellness coaches. New YMCA members are automatically enrolled in the MyFit VIP program during their first 30 days of membership, with provides three sessions with a qualified wellness coach who will design a custom workout based on your goals. After the second session, MyFit members also receive a free personal training session voucher. 

4. Track your progress

Write down your goals and give yourself a realistic timeline: “Don’t say you’re going to lose 20 pounds by February because that is too big of a letdown if you don’t reach that near impossible goal,” Scutti says. If you’ve set goals such as losing weight or building muscle, write down notes about what exercises you did, and any numbers or relevant data that you can use to measure your progress.

5. Bring a friend

Having a workout buddy can not only make working out more fun, but also hold you accountable to your routine. Another perk of the Y’s MyFit program is that members also receive a 30-day pass for a guest to come to the Y with them. 

6. Ask for help

Don’t be afraid to ask staff for help with using a machine or with other concerns, such as injuries you might have. A fitness instructor can provide modifications so you can have a successful workout, Scutti says.

7. Don’t overdo it

You can lose motivation by trying to do too much too soon, says The Also, don’t push your body’s limits, or you’ll risk an injury. Start with three to four exercises, and move on from there.

To learn more about fitness and wellness programs at the YMCA, visit Not a Y member yet? Join online or by visiting your local branch. Because the Y is for all, financial assistance is available for individuals and families who would like to participate in Y programs.


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