Surviving Your First Trip to the Gym

If your idea of fitness is fit’ness donut in your mouth, and you think the gym is a character from The Office, you’re in the right spot. While we typically focus on the world of online dating here, we do occasionally like to get our swole on. And for that reason, we’d like to share a little bit of our insight with those of you who are looking to make a change this year.

Getting in shape (no, round does not count) will not only help your health, but it will help you look and most importantly feel better. This can give you added energy and confidence that you need to achieve any of your goals this year including finding that special someone or future swole mate.

If you’re brand new to this “workout” stuff, we’ve got you covered. If you’ve never been to the dreaded gym before, we got you fam (we think that’s the word the kids are using these days). Below you’ll find some basic tips to make your first trip to the gym enjoyable. These tips will help you to fit in, feel confident, not get kicked out, and most importantly have a nice and effective workout.

Gym Checklist

What To Bring to the Gym

A Workout Towel

As we’re going to talk about more in a few, a workout towel is necessary to keep your sweat from flying all over the place and drenching the machines. Bring a small towel that you can use to wipe things down. This doesn’t have to be a Nike emblem, dedicated workout towel. If you need to, bring a kitchen hand towel or even a regular towel if you sweat like a champion. Just bring something as most gyms now require it.

Clean Clothes

Yes, you are going to get sweaty and probably stinky at the gym if you’re doing it right. This does not mean that it’s okay to show up in clothes that look like you already got the job done. You don’t have to show up in pressed and ironed clothes, but you need to show up in clothes that are at least on a friendship level with the washing machine.

A Water Source

Hydrate!!! Any of our military friends out there have probably heard that one a time or two (million). Staying hydrated is important, and it becomes a lot easier to remember to do when you have your own water bottle or sports drink with you. Gyms will usually have a water fountain, and you won’t be turned away if you don’t bring one, but if you want to look like you know what you’re doing, show up with a water bottle.

It also helps you not have to leave your machine in between sets. In a crazy beginning of the year gym climate, you might come back and find your machine taken over by someone else which means you have to do the most awkward thing ever at the gym – talk to other people. We are kidding…sort of. Just bring a water bottle.

Proper Shoes

Here’s a fun experiment that you should not do. Put a flip-flop on one foot and an athletic shoe on the other. Drop a 25 lb weight on each foot. Which hurts more? We’ll save you the trouble and tell you it’s the one with the flip-flop. You don’t have to go out and spend a million dollars on athletic shoes, but at least wear something with a closed toe. This is going to protect your feet and can also help with your form and protecting your body in other ways.

Weightlifting? Get a pair of Chucks. Running? Get running shoes. Only showing up to ogle the hunks and babes? Flip-flops are fine.

A Clean and Healthy You

This is the same reason that you’re going to be showing up to the gym with clean clothes on. It’s disrespectful to show up at the gym smelling like garbage. It can also be dangerous if you happen to show up and you’re sick. You’re going to spread that to everyone else and get the whole gym sick. If you’re a complete tool and don’t care about anyone but yourself, go for it! If you have a shred of decency, though, stay home if you’re not healthy.

A Bomb Diggity Attitude

Wooooooooo! Look, we know the gym is an escape and a release for a lot of people. It’s okay to show up angry and get the lead out. What is not okay is showing up and being rude or mean or disrespectful to other patrons of the gym. Show some class and take that rage out on the machine.

The Cardinal Rules of Gym-Going

These rules are your friends. These are the rules that are going to make or break your time at the gym. If you don’t follow these rules, you’re going to set yourself up to have a bad time and really upset some of the gym regulars. They’re not rocket science, but they do require an ounce of effort out of you. If the idea of exerting effort bothers you, we’ve got some bigger issues that we need to address.

Wipe Down the Machines

Sweating on the machines is okay! What is not okay is not cleaning up after yourself. When you were little, someone probably taught you that you should always clean up after yourself. If they didn’t, we are teaching you now. Welcome to being an adult. When you get done on a machine, wipe your sweat off, so the next person to use the machine doesn’t have to glide around on pools of your bodily fluids.

A lot of gyms will have paper towels and spray bottles located strategically throughout the gym. If they have these, use those. Grab a paper towel and a quick spray on it every time you get done with a machine. If a gym does not have these, find a better gym. Okay, okay, sometimes your options are limited. If the gym does not have this, use that trusty workout towel that you brought with you.

Don’t Hog All the Equipment

If your workout that you got from Cosmo magazine says that you have to rotate between five different machines at once, don’t expect to do that at a public gym especially at 6 pm on a weekday. Use one (maybe two) machines at once and alter your workout to fit that. If you are trying to reserve half the gym for yourself, you’re a jerk…plain and simple. This goes for free weights as well. If you’re using five different weights, don’t have a mountain of weights pulled off just for you.

Be Mindful of Other Patrons

This brings us to a bigger point. When you are using a public gym, there are other people that have paid their hard-earned money to be there as well. You have to respect that and allow them to do their thing as well. This doesn’t mean to let people walk all over you or intimidate you, but it does mean that you should be mindful if you can of what you might be able to do to help them.

Here’s a great example story from the gym this morning. The writer of this article was doing sit-ups on the ground next to a punching bag because that was the only open space when they got there. (It’s fun to write about yourself in the third person). The writer then noticed a few sets in that someone was looking to use the punching bag. The writer took a quick glance and noticed some more open floor space. The writer asked the gentleman if he wanted to use the bag and offered to move. By being mindful of the situation, the writer was able to help another patron have a better workout experience. It’s a new year. Let’s be better people together.

Benches are NOT for Resting

“My favorite thing about gyms is that they put those places to sit right next to the weights. I get so tired after doing curls.” This is sadly a phrase that we have heard uttered from a real human being’s mouth. The benches in the gym are workout equipment. They are not a place to set your cell phone. They are not a place for you to sit and rest. They are meant to be used for lifting weights and doing exercises. We don’t even care if Forrest Gump is playing in the gym; don’t sit on the benches to rest unless you are also using it to do your workouts.

Don’t Curl in the Squat Rack

You know that big rectangle jungle gym looking thing? It’s made for doing some big-boy or big-girl exercises. This is NOT meant to scare you away from it. In fact, you should be finding your way in there during your workouts. What you shouldn’t be doing, though, are workouts that can be done elsewhere in the gym.

These machines are usually pretty busy and should be reserved for these specializes workouts like squats. One of the biggest offending exercises is curls. You can curl with dumbbells or a bar elsewhere in the gym. You don’t need the structural safeguards of the squat rack. Just don’t do it.

Don’t Break Your Neck Staring

The gym is filled with some nice to look at people; there is no denying that. In fact, we aren’t even going to tell you not to take a quick peek. It can be motivating. What we are saying, though, is not to stare. Yoga butts drive us nuts too, but that doesn’t mean you need to make someone feel uncomfortable by staring for 20 minutes straight. Get your quick creep in and move along.

Don’t Laugh at Anyone or Else

There will be no jokes in this section. When you’re at the gym, you do not make fun of anyone. People are at the gym to better themselves, and you should never make fun of someone for that. Why does it say “or else?” Well, that’s a threat. If we see or hear about you making fun of someone at the gym, we will come handle it ourselves. Have respect for people that are trying. Build up your fellow man. Don’t be a douche.

A Final Word…

Don’t quit. Whatever you do, don’t quit. Getting in shape and changing your life is not easy. If it were easy, there wouldn’t be so many resources dedicated to helping people do it. The more you go to the gym, the more it will become routine. The more it becomes a routine, the more it will become a lifestyle. And before you know it, somewhere in that process you are going to be in the best shape of your life.

For those of you that are our normal readers who are here to work on your body to help you find love, please remember this. You should NOT be doing this for anyone but yourself. If you are, you’re going to end up failing. Remember that your health, your life, and your self-esteem should be things that are important to you for you. Is it going to help you in the romance department? Probably, but that shouldn’t matter. Do this for you and all the other things will fall into place.

Good luck and remember, the best day to start is today. Even if you only show up, work out for five

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Author: Matt Seymour, MSF

Matthew J. Seymour is a dating industry expert with over a decade of experience coaching singles, reviewing dating apps, and analyzing trends within the industry. Matt is a published author with his most recent work “Get More Dates: How to Master Online Dating Apps” that hit shelves in 2023. With a Masters of Science in Finance (MSF) degree from the University of Florida and extensive knowledge of the innerworkings of the online dating industry, Matt frequently serves in an advisory role to some of the largest dating apps on the market. In Matt’s current role with Healthy Framework, he leads the interview team that regularly interviews key dating industry leaders, and leverages his financial knowledge and dating app experience to review and share what singles need to know to get the most out of dating online.