Gyms can be intimidating places for a first timer. Women, in particular, may feel uneasy surrounded by unfamiliar equipment and the unfamiliar faces using them. This is completely understandable, and it’s entirely normal to be self-conscious on your first day in the gym.
Many men admit the same thing.
By and large, the fitness community is a welcoming one and everyone that you see working out will have had an induction and a first day at some time previously, but it’s tough watching people use equipment with ease and confidence if it's your first time stepping out on the gym floor. Remember, the only thing separating you from them is experience and after a few visits, you’ll soon be confidently slogging it away, too.
Even the hardiest gym rat and bunny had to start somewhere.
We’ve compiled a few quick tips for women hitting the gym for the first time. They’re not universal but we hope that you might find a few uses for them. Being confident and comfortable during a workout goes a long way in helping us all make the most of our sessions.
If you’ve got some tips, then post them in the comments below.
Make sure that you’re wearing a good sports bra in the gym
This might seem obvious but it really can’t be overstated. Being comfortable during your workout is vital not just for your health but also your own self-confidence. It’s hard to focus on your form if you catch yourself in the mirrors bobbing boobily around on the treadmill. It’s uncomfortable as hell, too, especially if you’re big chested. A good sports bra will fit close around the ribs without being too tight. You should be able to fit no more than 2 fingers under the band. The shoulder straps should be secure without pinching.
There’s no need to spend a fortune especially if you’re only just beginning to exercise but don’t fall for cheap brands. Look, too, at the exercise you’re planning on doing as a sports bra for yoga will be different to one designed for running. Research is key and even if you’re embarrassed to go into a shop to talk to someone, there’s enough information online including sizing guides that will help you make an informed choice.
Wearing a good quality sports bra is important. If you wear a regular bra (OMG - WHY!?) or a poor quality sports one then you’re going to suffer from chaffing. Worse still, you might also stretch ligaments in your breasts which can lead to premature sagging!
Wearing leggings in the gym? Squat test at home first
A good pair of gym leggings is worth its weight in gold. They help sculpt and lift a woman’s body providing support and a healthy dose of fashion. They’re also very practical: keeping material and fabric away from machines. The gym fashion industry is worth an absolute fortune. Sports and fitness clothing (women’s and men’s combined) is estimated to reach $231.7 billion by 2024. And leggings have been a key factor in a number of business success stories BUT they’re not all made equally. We cannot stress this enough: DO A SQUAT TEST IN FRONT OF THE MIRROR BEFORE YOU WEAR LEGGINGS IN THE GYM!
Cheap leggings are notorious for going see-through when you bend over in them.
This can happen even to super-black pairs. Premium brand leggings usually pass a squat test (although, you can never be sure), but a number of high street retailers are selling leggings that will leave you mooning the person behind. If you’ve already purchased a pair and find that they go sheer when they stretch, then you can always pop a pair of shorts over the top. Again, it’s not just about saving your blushes but it’s feeling comfortable during your session. If you’re self-conscious, then how can you expect to be able to focus on what you’re doing.
You might be surprised to hear how important our perceptions about our own appearance is in exercise. Enclothed Cognition is when we work out harder because we feel good: it’s a bit like power dressing and it’s been scientifically proven to affect our workouts. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on sportswear BUT choose what you do wear carefully and not only will you look rockin’ but you’ll feel it, too.
Take a towel to the gym.
Taking your own towel means that you can wipe down the equipment when you’re done. This is good for hygiene and good etiquette. Don’t be a dick and leave seats, bars, weights and handles wet.
Take your headphones to the gym
Working out can get repetitive. Music is a fantastic way of keeping your mind off the exertion you’re putting into your workout. Listening to music has also been shown to improve performance during exercise, too. Audiobooks are a great distraction mid-workout as well and podcasts are good for inspiration and insight into bodybuilding. Whatever you need to plug into to make your workout work for you - do it. Don’t assume that you have to workout in earphones. Headphones pack a much bigger punch for sound quality and are fine to use during exercise when paired with sweat-proof covers. Ear Hugs have just launched a fab new range with a number of female-friendly designs that work with Bose, Beats, Sony, Sennheiser, Skullcandy and many other makes and models.
Don't wear jewellery in the gym
Jewellery is easy to leave on but in the gym, it can become very annoying very quickly. If there’s something bouncing around your neck, jangling on your wrist or rattling around your ears, it’s a distraction. It could be a potential hazard, too, if it was to get caught in one of the machines.
Wear decent trainers in the gym
This isn’t just about fashion. Our feet, knees and hips take a real pounding in the gym, and if you’re wearing an old pair of sneakers, then you could be doing harm to yourself and undermining your form. A good pair of gym shoes doesn’t have to cost a fortune but it might take a bit of research before you find the right one for you and your workout. If you’re looking for a good affordable pair, then we’d recommend buying something out of last year’s range as many are reduced when the new designs hit the shelves.
Take that look off your face
Taking off makeup knowing that you’ll need to re-apply it later is annoying, sure, but if you exercise in makeup then you’re risking a breakout of spots. When we start getting hot, the pores in our skin release moisture (sweat) which should then either evaporate off our skin or fall off. If we’re wearing makeup, however, this creates a barrier and the sweat and dirt can’t escape. This can cause acne and spots, and it’s not a good look.
Pack Hair Ties
There’s nothing more annoying than getting hair in your face during a workout. Keep a pack in your gym bag for those times when you don’t have an elastic on your wrist.
What you need to take to the gym will be personal to you but it’s worth making your first visit as stress-free and as enjoyable as possible. You can always move forward from there once you’ve found your feet and gotten into a good stride.
And don't forget to check out the AWESOME range of sweat-proof headphone covers on the Ear Hugs website.