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7 Helpful Tips for First-Time Gym Goers

BY AIMEE NICOTERA

Do you avoid the gym because it's overwhelming and costly? These tips will get you ready to commit to a gym membership and help you seriously improve your fitness.

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1. Take a Class
Choose a class based on the description that interests you and seems appropriate for your level. If you are just starting out, look for words like "basics," "101," and "intro" to be on the safe side. Be sure to introduce yourself to the instructor, and let them know it is your first time attending their class. Taking a class could make the gym more enjoyable, and it's an easy (and fun!) way to up your fitness game.

2. Hit the Treadmill
Since you already know how to walk, try picking up the pace on the treadmill. Straddle the belt, hit "quick start" and adjust your speed to 2.0. Once you get comfortable, pick your speed up to a brisk but doable walking pace, anywhere between 3.2-4.5 mph. Add some incline by adjusting the grade to 1, 2 or 3 percent to start. Try to walk for 15-20 minutes to start.

3. Go with a Friend
You probably already have at least one friend who frequents the local gym. Try tagging along with them, as they may be able to show you their routine, give you a tour of the facility and help you feel more comfortable. They might be able to recommend their favorite trainers, machines and classes. Best of all, they could give you that extra push of motivation you need!

4. Attend the Orientation
Most fitness facilities offer new members a complimentary orientation, and it's a great idea to take advantage of it. The orientation usually includes a tour and a general idea of how to use a few pieces of basic equipment. Pay attention because this could help you avoid injury and avoid germs to keep you healthy and safe.

5. Hire a Trainer
Hire a trainer for a few sessions. Let them know you are interested in two different strength-training routines that you'll be able to eventually do on your own. You'll want a routine to use a mix of weights and machines, and you want to keep it simple. You can also ask them to show you how to use some of the other pieces of cardio equipment too, to make sure you are getting the most out of each machine.

RELATED: 3 Ways Your Trainer Steers You Wrong

6. Prepare
Try a strength-training fitness DVD, and get yourself ready for the gym. You'll learn some basic bodyweight exercises and figure out which hand weights to use when you get to the gym. Plus, you'll learn proper form for many moves that will help you avoid injury.

7. Ask for a Free Introductory Promotion
Most facilities will offer you a free week before you fully commit to join. Use this pass to make sure the gym is a good fit for you. You want to be sure that the equipment is well maintained, the fitness class times work for you, the facility is clean, and the trainers appear to know what they are doing.

RELATED: The Best Time to Buy a Gym Membership

Remember, the idea is to get started. Keep it simple, start a routine and develop the habit. The more comfortable you get, the more likely you are to try something new and stick with it!

-Aimee

In addition to being a certified group fitness instructor and personal trainer, Aimee Nicotera holds a BS in Nutrition and MS in Health Education. She is the creator of the 2X2 Conditioning® and Take 20!® Fitness DVD series. She encourages her clients to make fitness fun by trying new workouts and classes. Find out more at www.aimeenicotera.com.

Follow Aimee on Twitter and Facebook.

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