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So I joined a Gym and need advice...
Old 01-09-2019, 04:17 PM   #1
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So I joined a Gym and need advice...

I haven't ever been fond of exercise- I have been a runner in the past, but now live where it isn't practical. I joined a Gym that is sort of on my way home from work as that's the only real time I have to do it thanks to the kids' schedules and my own. SO- I know how to use the cardio machines, and I plan to start with those. I'm not sure I've ever used the weight lifting stuff, but after reading Younger Next Year, I get that I need to. So here are the questions:

All I own or have ever owned (in athletic shoes) are running shoes. Is that fine or do I need "trainers" whatever that means. If I do need something different- tell me what I'm looking for please.

There are a million machines in there. They assured me they'd show me how to use them properly, but how do I know WHICH ONES are important? Any website references would be great, because I'm confused. There are so MANY. How do you tell?

The goal here is to be fitter. Don't need to lose weight, and don't want to be noticeably more muscular. I like goals- what should my goals be- i.e., how do you track progress here, and what should I expect?

I think I want a heart rate monitor- got any recommendations?
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Old 01-09-2019, 05:00 PM   #2
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If you have shoes good enough for walking and some jogging, then they would be fine (IMHO) for doing gym exercise.

When you do weight lifting, frankly you could do it bare foot, but it would freak everyone out, so don't do that, but the shoes won't matter for weigh lifting.

If you keep at it, perhaps in a while you will want to get little gloves to wear for weightlifting, but I'd give it a go first and see if you desire them.
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Old 01-09-2019, 05:13 PM   #3
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And working out in front of a mirror is not (generally) vanity....it's to ensure that you're doing the exercises correctly.
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Old 01-09-2019, 05:23 PM   #4
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As far as weights, most gyms will have a section of weight-machines, which are far better to start on as they force you into good form. Instead of dealing with loading on plates, you just place the pin at the number you feel ok with. And far far far better to start too light for the first few sessions while you awaken muscles and learn good form.

A leg press is great for overall lower body strength. you kinda sit inclined and then extend your legs out, against a high-ish weight. For more targeted stuff, you'll find one that's just for quad raising, and then for hamstring curls. Then there's usually one for addctors/abductors, for outer/inner thighs, and probably a calf extension too.

For upper body, the lat pull downs are nice as they work your back, your side laterals, and your arms a bit - like the leg press you might find this is one of the higher weight machines, before moving on to more targeted bicep curls and tricep extensions.

You'll generally want to move in order of hitting up the bigger/heavier weight machines first, and then finishing on the smaller muscles last. And of course, alternating muscle groups with at least 48 hours between sessions.

Then after 6-8 weeks on those, once you can feel a difference, you can move over to the grunting floor if you feel the need.

Shoes - just wear what you run in that's totally fine. Polar makes some good entry level HR monitors, I just use my Fitbit.
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Old 01-09-2019, 05:37 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by ugeauxgirl View Post
... There are a million machines in there. They assured me they'd show me how to use them properly, but how do I know WHICH ONES are important? Any website references would be great, because I'm confused. There are so MANY. How do you tell? ...
Might be worth meeting with one of the trainers at the gym to get an orientation and recommendation for a workout plan.
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Old 01-09-2019, 06:10 PM   #6
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My gym (and I imagine most are similar in this regard) offers an initial session with a personal trainer, who will discuss your goals and set up a routine that’s appropriate for you.
Any sports shoes should work as long as they don’t have spikes.
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Old 01-09-2019, 07:27 PM   #7
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This is exactly what trainers are so good for. You can meet for just a few times to work out a plan and be shown how to do exercises properly or safely, or you can determine that having a trainer improves your workouts enough to be worth an ongoing investment. Congrats on committing to getting started!
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Old 01-09-2019, 08:03 PM   #8
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+1 for a trainer to start, I avoided using one for years and finally realized if I wanted to do weights etc appropriately without hurting my back etc... I better get professional help....

worth a few sessions than you can do it on your own or go back to trainer for a refresher...
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Old 01-09-2019, 08:10 PM   #9
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+1 for a trainer. I am coming back from a injury and subsequent surgery.I did 10 sessions with a trainer. Getting the proper exercises and learning the correct form was important to me to avoid re injury.
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Old 01-09-2019, 08:11 PM   #10
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I really like free weights, mainly 8 lb dumbbells, and using body weight (planks, etc.) vs machines, and a trainer set up my workout and then worked with me weekly for a month. Each week she also gave me that week’s workouts in a spreadsheet with lots of details. It includes flexibility and balance sets too. One nice thing is that I can do them anywhere. So I agree with above suggestion to start with a couple of training sessions. And I didn’t feel any pressure to continue with the trainer—you choose how many sessions you want.
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Old 01-09-2019, 08:46 PM   #11
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I'll put a plug in here for fitness classes. Things like spinning, BodyPump, and similar. They are both motivational and scheduled (so you get that regularity that a lot of people desire).

Of course, DW is a BodyPump/spinning instructor so I'm biased and YMMV....
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Old 01-10-2019, 08:47 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aerides View Post
A leg press is great for overall lower body strength. you kinda sit inclined and then extend your legs out, against a high-ish weight. For more targeted stuff, you'll find one that's just for quad raising, and then for hamstring curls. Then there's usually one for addctors/abductors, for outer/inner thighs, and probably a calf extension too.
Rather than targeting individual muscles, compound exercises will hit several muscles at once...that ensures that muscles strengthen in balance with each other, and it also saves time. For example, correctly done squats will work all of the muscles in your legs, plus your core.

Quote:
For upper body, the lat pull downs are nice as they work your back, your side laterals, and your arms a bit - like the leg press you might find this is one of the higher weight machines, before moving on to more targeted bicep curls and tricep extensions.
Same concept...compound exercises. Presses and pulldowns will work all the muscles in your arms, shoulders, chest and back eliminating the need to isolate individual muscles.

I had great success doing 4 basic compound movements when lifting:
1. upper body push (bench press, overhead press, pushups, etc)
2. upper body pulls (chin-ups, pull downs, rows)
3. lower body push (squats, lunges)
4. lower body pulls (good mornings, deadlifts)
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Old 01-10-2019, 09:02 AM   #13
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Many people have their favorite routines when at the gym. Mine is unique to some because it works for me. For those who just start I agree with those who see a trainer initially. Just sign up for one individual lesson. They might want you to sign up for a series but I wouldn't commit to that. Make sure you communicate what you want out of a workout and your end goal. Many trainers have their favorite set workout and it might not fit your needs.

If you have interest in the machines make sure they familiarize you with their use. Many older people use circuit training (not saying you're old).

Either way, give it a go and do your best to carve out time and make it part of your day/week.

Good luck
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Old 01-10-2019, 09:07 AM   #14
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get a trainer
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Old 01-10-2019, 09:12 AM   #15
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People only object to "vanity," if you act like the gym is your personal space, and all those other people are nuisances. As you'll soon discover, they are nuisances; just don't you let on.

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And working out in front of a mirror is not (generally) vanity....it's to ensure that you're doing the exercises correctly.
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Old 01-10-2019, 09:21 AM   #16
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People only object to "vanity," if you act like the gym is your personal space, and all those other people are nuisances. As you'll soon discover, they are nuisances; just don't you let on.
I think Nemo's point was, and it's a good one, that you might see a mirror and think it's only for vanity, and purposefully ignore it so you don't seem vain. In fact, it's to check your form, and you definitely should use it.

I'll 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc, the suggestion to get a trainer to help start with form and what to work on, and occasionally do a refresher.
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Old 01-10-2019, 09:23 AM   #17
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Trainer to start and try out machines. Know how to use
Do what feels good, if it doesn't feel good, you'll end up quitting.

As one too old to give advice, my advice is to take it as it comes... don't overdo, and leave smiling. Getting in shape comes naturally.

Feel good about going in, and good when coming out.
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Old 01-10-2019, 09:56 AM   #18
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Yep, I understood that. I was commenting that vanity, in a gym, is not necessarily bad. It's actually a motivator, for some. Whatever motivates you is good, as long as it doesn't inconvenience others.

I'm pulling for OP, and agree that a trainer is a great help at the start.

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Originally Posted by RunningBum View Post
I think Nemo's point was, and it's a good one, that you might see a mirror and think it's only for vanity, and purposefully ignore it so you don't seem vain. In fact, it's to check your form, and you definitely should use it.

I'll 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc, the suggestion to get a trainer to help start with form and what to work on, and occasionally do a refresher.
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Old 01-10-2019, 11:26 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Music Lover View Post
Rather than targeting individual muscles, compound exercises will hit several muscles at once...that ensures that muscles strengthen in balance with each other, and it also saves time. For example, correctly done squats will work all of the muscles in your legs, plus your core.



Same concept...compound exercises. Presses and pulldowns will work all the muscles in your arms, shoulders, chest and back eliminating the need to isolate individual muscles.

I had great success doing 4 basic compound movements when lifting:
1. upper body push (bench press, overhead press, pushups, etc)
2. upper body pulls (chin-ups, pull downs, rows)
3. lower body push (squats, lunges)
4. lower body pulls (good mornings, deadlifts)
+1 on this advice, developing good form is very important, start light and get a trainer to show you how to properly do these lifts. If your gym has a weight sled I also feel that is one of the best exercises you can do. For core, planks are good as well and can be done at home.
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Old 01-10-2019, 11:34 AM   #20
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+1 on this advice, developing good form is very important, start light and get a trainer to show you how to properly do these lifts. If your gym has a weight sled I also feel that is one of the best exercises you can do. For core, planks are good as well and can be done at home.
I agree, proper form is very important.

Planks and a weight sled are good exercises to add into the mix. I also like doing my own version of Farmer's Walk...carrying a pair dumbbells up and down the stairs.
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