We could discuss women in the work place, and that is a viable topic I would love to tackle, but today we’re looking at women in the workout place. You know, that place you rarely get to visit because you’re too busy working and taking care of other humans.
Ladies, are you lifting weights? Please, for the love, lift weights and lift heavy weights. Don’t let the men at the gym intimidate you. In just the last month at the gym I’ve seen a guy working out in a polo and gym shorts (showing off his pencil legs, because body proportion is wack) and a guy who looked like he came in right off the job site in steel toe boots and a work shirt with his name over the pocket. I’ve seen men using the machines improperly, lifting weights that were too heavy so they were not working the intended muscle group and I’ve worked in on machines with guys that I had to up the weight when it was my turn. You deserve to be there and I promise you, you know as much as they do… and besides, being women, we’ll ask if we don’t know rather than do squats on the leg press machine.
Here are a few survival tips for women in the workout place.
1. This is the best kept secret to surviving at the gym and one that men use. It’s a pretty complex concept: ACT LIKE YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO BE THERE!
2. Go in with a plan. Create an idea of what you want to accomplish at the gym that day. This helps to keep you from feeling lost or aimless. Google some exercises and write them in a note on your phone. You will look like you’re changing music instead of checking notes. Really though, anyone who knows what they are doing keeps notes of their exercises anyway. Record the exercise, how many sets you did and how much weight lifted or the duration of the exercise. This helps you see progress and keeps you motivated.
3. Every machine has a picture with how to use it. I have been lifting weights since I was 12 and am a personal trainer yet I still have to read these from time to time. When you stop to read it, you may feel like everyone in the gym is judging you for having to read it. It feels like when the teacher would call you up to the board in front of the class to do a math problem, but no one is watching you. If the room is full of men, they’re watching themselves in the mirror and other women are reading their own machine’s placards. If you still don’t understand how to use the machine, ask someone. Find a trainer (they usually have on a shirt with “trainer” on the back) or go up to the desk and tell them you have a question about a piece of equipment.
4. Schedule a free session with one of the gym’s personal trainers. Most, if not all, gyms give you a free first session with one of their trainers. They will assess your fitness needs and take you through a sample workout. They will offer you a training package but do not feel compelled to sign up for it. This assessment will give you a few ideas of how to use some of the equipment. You can even request a session specifically to show you how to use the equipment. You may even get this service free from your gym, just ask. If you can afford to continue working with a personal trainer, sign up for 5-10 sessions (the per session rate should decrease the more sessions you sign up for). You can get a jump start on being in a routine with some accountability and learn how to put together a workout. You will be well prepared to go it on your own after that.
5. There is etiquette in the gym that you should be aware of. Some people ignore it, but don’t be one of those people. Take turn on machines: If you are doing three sets then be aware of others who want to “work in”. This means they want to get a set in in between your sets. Don’t just sit on the machine texting between sets and if someone else is, just ask them to work in. Wipe your sweat off the machines: Carry a towel with you and simply wipe down the seat when you’re done. There will be antibacterial wipes around too so when you’re done with your sets you can grab one and wipe it down that way. Re-rack your weights: If you are using free weights, put them back where you got them.
These tips should get you started, and that’s what’s important: to get started. A couple weeks of getting used to the gym and you’ll be a regular. Don’t be intimidated, act like you’re supposed to be there, go in with a plan, ask for help and do work. The quickest way to change your body is to lift heavy weights. That means heavy weights by your standards, not Joe Muscle over there using his back to do curls that are entirely too heavy for him. You can do this! Need some extra motivation or suggestions? Drop me a question in the comments or for more regular posts, head over to facebook and check out AvengerFitness!