Are you a beginner wanting to go into the gym for the first time? Or are you joining a new gym as part of your commitment to your fitness? Before we go into our gym essentials for beginners (along with some important gym bag essentials), we’re first going to discuss the benefits of getting to the gym!

Gym Baby Meme

Benefits of Going to the Gym

Gym Essentials for Beginners

Exercise is, in general, hugely important and beneficial. But given that you can find workouts to do at home on the Internet, and home exercise equipment is more common (plus more affordable) than ever, why should you also consider adding a gym membership into the mix?

One of the biggest reasons is motivation. Sure, you can add a treadmill or an exercise bike to the basement, but are you really going to head down there every day to use it? For many the answer is no. There’s too much to do at home and too many distractions. The bike becomes just another thing forgotten among the rest of the clutter you don’t use.

By joining a gym and making a commitment to yourself to go as often as possible, you can make a huge dent in your health and fitness goals. Further, by actually scheduling a visit in the same way you would any other appointment, you’re far more likely to stick to your fitness plans.

At the gym, you can also get help meeting your fitness goals, whether it’s from the trainers or your fellow gym-goers (even in the form of extra “cheerleading”). Together, these things can go such a long way towards helping you stay on track and motivated towards your goals.

It is important that you take the time to find the right gym for you though. Ideally, it won’t be too far out of your way – if it is, you won’t go as often as you should. You’ll also want to find one that’s open at the times that suit your busy schedule. Even more ideally, it should have staff who are helpful and friendly along with patrons who are the same way.

In fact, take a couple of gym tours before you make a decision and part with your cash. Most gyms offer a free trial, and that’s a great way to help you find the one that’s right for you.

What to Bring to the Gym: Gym Bag Essentials

You’ve made a decision, chosen your gym, and are ready for your first workout. But before you head out of the door, is everything you need packed in your gym bag? Actually, what should be in your gym bag in the first place?

While most gyms do provide some supplies, there are certain essentials you should always add to your gym bag. These include the following:

1. Your workout gear 

Gym Essentials - Workout Gear

Unless you intend to change before you head out to the gym, which many people don’t (or just can’t), get into the habit of keeping a set of workout clothes packed in your bag and ready to go. Include a pair of comfortable gym shoes. If you keep this “kit” packed (and freshly laundered) at all times, you will be able to get going to the gym whenever you have the time.

2. A water bottle 

Gym Essentials - Water Bottle

Yes, most gyms sell bottled water. But not only can that get very expensive very fast, but those single use plastic bottles also aren’t as fun or decorative as your own personal water bottle! Invest in a good, reusable water bottle, and you’ll both save yourself money as well as helping to save the planet.

3. Wipes 

Gym Essentials - Wipes

You may not have the time to hit the showers after your workout. However, in order to avoid leaving the gym in a sweaty mess, you can invest in some simple body and face wipes. They can make freshening up post-workout a breeze.

4. Healthy Snacks 

Gym Essentials - Snacks

Having a healthy snack tucked into your bag will let you fuel up after your workout, something that’s a must. Great portable post-workout snacks include protein bars, protein-packed nuts like peanuts or almonds, or even those little packages of peanut butter and crackers.

Having the right gym gear will help you feel equipped to get in a good workout. But the right gear does not have to cost a fortune. Don’t get caught up in the idea that you can’t go to the gym unless you have the fancy gear. As long as your workout clothes fit and are comfortable, you’ll be good to go. 

What To Do At the Gym

OK. You made it to the gym? Now what? While every gym is slightly different, here’s a look at what almost all of them have to offer.

Cardio Equipment

Cardio equipment at the gym consists of mostly larger machines that will help you work your body on a stationary piece of equipment. Here we’ll go over the most basic pieces of cardio equipment that you’ll find at almost any gym.

Treadmill

Cardio Equipment - Treadmill

The treadmills you’ll find at a gym are heavier duty than those you can buy for your home, but they essentially do the same thing. Some people love spending time on the treadmill, and it’s certainly great for you. Running or walking on a treadmill offers all the cardiovascular and calorie-burning benefits as doing the same thing outside, but it also allows you to adjust the incline and pace at your will to get an excellent workout.

Bike

Cardio Equipment - Bike

An exercise bike is one of the oldest forms of modern gym equipment, but it can still also be one of the most effective, especially for beginners who are just getting used to the idea of going to the gym. However, modern gym bikes are a lot more than just a stationary version of standard bike, as they also allow you to adjust the pace and incline. Some even have “routes” built in that can help keep you engaged as you “ride”.

Elliptical

Cardio Equipment - Elliptical

Some people get a bit confused about just what an elliptical is and why they should give it a shot. Basically, it’s a machine that simulates walking, running, or stair climbing but with a much smaller impact on the lower body, especially the knees. Running on a treadmill can be rough on bad knees. In contrast, as your feet never leave an elliptical’s pedals, that jarring impact isn’t felt anywhere near as much.

Free Weights

Strength Training - Free Weights

Free weights are usually racked two at a time. They usually start at 3 or 5 lbs. and can go all the way up to 50 lbs. Strength training with weights is something everyone can try, especially since strength training offers the advantage that it will keep you burning calories long after you leave the gym!

Cable Machine

Full Body Trainer - Cable Machine

The cable machine is also known as a functional trainer. It’s that (almost scary-looking) machine with all the wires and pulleys that you’ll see in almost every gym. These are great full body trainers, but if you’ve never used one before, ask a staff member to walk you through it the first time to avoid injuring yourself.

Stretch Area

Warm Up & Cool Down - Stretch Area

Warming up and cooling down are important parts of any exercise routine, including any visit to the gym. That’s why at most gyms you’ll find a wide open “stretch area” where you can do just that. It’s definitely a must-stop spot every time you visit.

Conclusion

Now that you know what to bring with you, what to look for, and why you should go to the gym in the first place, it’s time to actually do it. So what are you waiting for? Get out there, break a sweat, and have some fun! Your body’s going to thank you for it!

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Stephanie Mansour
Stephanie Mansour is a nationally recognized Health & Fitness Expert as seen on Today Show, Dr. Oz, CNN, FOX New York, ABC Chicago, Fox LA, WGN, Fox Chicago, CBS Chicago, NBC Chicago, PBS, Yahoo, Sirius XM, Chicago Tribune and Crain’s Business. She reaches more than 52 million viewers per month. For the past decade, Stephanie has been helping millions of people “Step It Up,” every day in their lives with weight loss tips, lifestyle hacks, and fitness secrets to up their game. Steph coaches you on how to be the rockstar of your own health that you always knew you could be. She gets real and fast results, and provides easy tips and tricks that work no matter how busy you are. She’ll help you finally rid yourself of the weight – both emotionally and physically – to get the life you want. In fact, she coached one reality TV star to lose almost 90 lbs in 3 months!