It's that time of the year again: the time when we all look in the mirror, remember when we got out of breath running for the bus last week and promise ourselves that this is the year we get fit.
If you're hitting the gym, there are some basic etiquette rules that you should be aware of.
It's important that you wear the right clothes for your work out. If you're not comfortable donning spandex hot pants and a tiny vest, baggier clothing is fine, but make sure it is lightweight and not excessively loose. At the other end of the scale, make sure that the outfit you choose covers your modesty.
Footwear is essential: trainers or specialist shoes are the only options suitable. You must support your feet properly as a good grounding for any exercise.
In addition to the above outfit, you should carry a small towel at all times, in order to wipe down machinery after use. If you don't have a suitable towel, most gyms should provide disposable paper roll to sanitize equipment – just ask. While water bottles aren't an absolute must, they are highly advised. Keeping yourself hydrated is important throughout all activities.
Machines: treadmills, cross trainers, etc.
When using cardio machines, there are a number of considerations. Firstly, if you don't know how to use them, ASK. All gyms should run a basic introduction program.
After you jump on your chosen machine, consider how busy the gym is before you start a program. If there are people queuing up behind you, an hour-long run is highly inconsiderate. During busy times, 30 minutes is the generally accepted period of use. Finally – always wipe down parts of the machine you've had contact with afterwards.
Most gyms have both weights machines and free weights areas. Consult with your gym staff about what is best to use in order to reach your exercise or training goals.
Again, as space is limited in a gym, there may well be a queue for equipment. In between doing sets of reps, allow other users to use the machine and/or dumbbells. If you're using a weights bar and plates, continue your sets and reps without swapping in with other people, unless they are happy to lift the same weight as you – swapping plates between sets is very time consuming. Yet again, make sure your towel or wipes are handy in order to clean the equipment for the next user!
Finally… KNOW YOUR LIMITS
Don't push yourself beyond what you can comfortably achieve. Challenge yourself, certainly – but if you ever feel sick, dizzy or severely out of breath, seek help from staff.
It's often not considered to be the case, but exercise is fun! Allow yourself to enjoy it and soon you'll be putting that annual gym membership to good use.
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