Let’s be honest: the gym can be confusing, even daunting for newbies. But don’t worry! I’ve been going to the gym for a whole week and am here to answer your frequently asked questions.

What should I wear to the gym?

Throw on that old pair of New Balances you usually wear for doing yard work and you’ll be ready to get started with—whatever that thing is over there.

What is that thing over there?

It’s intimidating right? I totally agree.

It could be a metal tree with sad branches or a robot villain from an action movie, rescued from a Planet Hollywood. I think it also might be a fire hazard because it has a picture of the man’s chest burning.

One thing’s for sure: it’s for exercise!

How do I use this machine for exercise?

Simple! Just sit back and push up on the sad branches/robot arms, letting the weight fall back down with a loud SLAM. One or two presses are called “a set.” Don't forget to rest between sets to let your muscles recover: anywhere between five to ten seconds should do it. Don’t be afraid to go hard! Remember: pain is good.

What do these knobs on the machine do?

Do not adjust any of the knobs on the machine. That’s pro-level and could lead to injury. Whatever that guy before you just did is probably the way to go, exercise-wise. I mean, just look how huge his arms are—that could be you!

I’ve heard I should have variety in my workout, is that important?

Absolutely! After working out your arms, it’s important to switch it up with different kinds of arm exercises.

If you’re like me, you probably have fond memories of curling dumbbells while chugging Mountain Dew in your high school friend’s basement. Guess what? Dumbbells are back!

In high school, you could probably curl about 20 pounds, but you’re older now which means you’re stronger: physically, but also emotionally and spiritually. You got this!

What size weight should I use?

B-line it to the 35-pound dumbbells. That’s a pretty popular weight, so if you spot a 45-pound dumbbell, that’s ok, too. Do “some of these” and “some of those”—whatever that means to you.

That corner of the gym, it looks like an abandoned house of mirrors?

Sure does! But don’t be fooled, it’s also a place for exercise. Look closer and you’ll spot a rack of yoga mats and a smattering of medicine balls.

Let this area of the gym inspire you: one of the best things about being a beginner is experimentation. Try holding a medicine ball to your chest in meditation, then pump it straight out and straight back into your chest. You’ll know you’re using the right velocity and force when you can hear an audible THUD against your rib cage above the sounds of your workout playlist.

What songs should I put on my workout playlist?

Whatever you listened to in high school while chugging Mountain Dew in your friend’s basement. Muscle memory!

Is that a bowling ball with no holes and a built-in carrying handle?

Yep! But in gym lingo we call it a kettlebell. Heavier than it looks, right? Feel free to put it back down immediately.

Way to go! You’ve created your own custom pseudo-yoga calisthenics routine with a blend of low and high-intensity exercises, I’m pretty sure.

What is “cardio?”

It is a word that is short for a longer word.

Does it have something to do with running?

Yes, that’s right! Cardio is running. Time for the treadmill!

NOTE: The treadmills at the gym aren’t like the one in your aunt’s bonus room, stacked with old Tom Clancy novels and blouses draped over it. These treadmills are for a singular purpose: running at an Olympic record-setting mile pace.

What buttons do I press?

Click “start” and begin tapping the “up” button until you’re in an all-out sprint for your life. With natural adrenaline, you’ll have the boost needed to run at break-neck speed for about three minutes. This is the perfect way to wrap up before your ‘cool down’ of walking back home and kissing the ground. That sweet, stagnant, unmoving ground.

What’s next?

Do these same exercises or improvise entirely new ones every time you go to the gym. And remember: as a beginner, you can cancel your gym membership, guilt-free.

Really, it’s no big deal. After all, you’re just getting started. Take it from me, I just did it myself!


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