5 Tips to Make Your First Day at the Gym a Great One

Woman checking in at the front desk of a Planet Fitness gym
When you first walk in, the gym can be a scary place. But it doesn't have to be.

by Steven Auger

There's an old adage that life begins outside of your comfort zone. For folks who are joining a gym for the first time, or who now belong to a new gym, walking in on that first day can be daunting. I still remember my first day 17 years ago. The uncertainty and fear of being judged can be enough to make you want to turn around. But if you let your fear stop you, you'll miss out on everything the gym has to offer! Here are five gym tips for enjoying your first day, basedon my own experiences.

1. Remember Why You Signed Up

The predominant reason for joining a gym probably has to do with some aspect of your health. I first joined in the middle of January simply to have a place to jog indoors during the winter months to stay fit.

Maybe you're looking for different ways to stay active, trying to lose some weight, or are looking to join a new and uplifting community. As you walk through the door on that first day, remember why you signed up to join a gym in the first place and focus on the fact that you're taking the first step on a positive path.

2. Be Prepared

When I first joined a gym, it was right near where I worked. A couple of my co-workers were active members so I picked their brains about the cardio equipment it had to offer, how crowded it got after work, and what the members and staff were like. I later dropped by and one of the staff members gave me a tour, including locker-room facilities, before I officially signed up.

Nowadays, you can often take a virtual tour online (Bonus! Many Planet Fitness clubs offer virtual tours). Check out the club's website to make sure it has the necessary equipment to allow you to meet your goals. (For example, if you're strictly into cardio, you don't want a place with only a few treadmills.) If you still have some questions, drop by for an in-person tour.

3. Find Your Comfort Zone

When you first walk in, the gym can be a scary place. Between the complex machines and all the folks who seem to know what they're doing, it can sometimes feel like you don't belong. To counter that feeling, seek out something that will put you at ease and get you into the flow. If you had taken a tour before, you should be familiar with the terrain, so you already know what's available for you. When I first joined a gym, I was big into running. At first, I felt intimidated, but knowing I could walk in and jump on a treadmill helped me feel more comfortable. Find your treadmill.

4. There's Strength in Numbers

When I first joined the gym, I didn't find a workout buddy immediately. But what I came to realize is that everyone has a first day at the gym. We're all newbies at some point, so there's no reason to feel intimidated by those around you. Consider asking a friend to join with you so you can hold each other accountable. If you don't have a workout buddy now, don't sweat it at all. Before long, you'll naturally find someone you connect with.

5. Stay Motivated

Everyone's fitness journey is unique. And we all need motivation from time to time. For me, the compliments I received from friends and family always brought a smile to my face and drove me to push harder during my next workout. For a different kind of motivation, check out Planet of Triumphs - an online community for Planet Fitness members where they can share their success stories and cheer each other on. You'll see members who've lost as much as 150 lbs -- and received an outpouring of positive and encouraging comments from other members in response. What better way to stay motivated than to feel the support of your gym peers?

I hope these gym tips help you on your own fitness journey!