Back in October 2016, I did the Michelle Impossible and joined a gym. Last year saw me become a true convert to the world of Barre and although I’ve been pretty religious with my at-home workouts this year, joining the gym alongside my boyfriend (we have a quite sickly couples pass) was the push I needed to get over the fitness plateau I’d found myself experiencing.

The gym is something that I’d always found a little daunting and intimidating. You know, men in Lycra pumping iron and that loud music designed to energise you, but that will probably leave you with a headache. In reality? The gym is just a well-equipped place designed to work out at and to help you reach your goals, whatever they might be.

Since joining the gym, I’ve been going 4-5 times a week. When I first signed on the dotted line, the dude told me if I pushed myself to go 3 times weekly, the membership would be worth it and so here we are.

My current routine is a combination of group classes as well as training on my own (strength), as well as my weekly Barre class at a separate, independent studio. My current fitness goals are to build muscle and tone, be able to press my bodyweight and to feel healthier overall.

If you’ve been considering joining a gym and you’re either a) not sure where to begin, b) curious about how it all works, c) need a push in the ‘right’ direction, or d) just curious overall, then this is the post for you, the Daisybutter everygirl.

And honestly, if I can do this, you certainly can too!

What do you want from the gym?

Let’s begin with the very first step: what do you want from your gym experience?

Would you like to feel more motivated? Be held accountable? Lose weight? Get toned? Have fun? Challenge yourself? Build your peach?

I’m a member at a David Lloyds gym, a ‘club’ if we’re getting technical. And what I decided before I joined was that I wanted somewhere to comfortably work out and work towards my own fitness goals. I wanted somewhere that felt relaxing to visit with studio space, floor space, equipment and plenty of variation. I can’t swim so that wasn’t a huge playing factor for me but I do enjoy using the sauna and Jacuzzi on a Friday evening after Yin yoga. Goals-wise, I was completely out of my depth and had no idea what I’d be capable of, never mind setting a bar for it.

Once you’ve established what you’re looking at gaining from a gym membership, you’re probably well on your way to defining…

What are your goals?

This is what I struggled with the most when I joined the gym: defining my goals. And it can be difficult to work out what those are when you’re an utter newbie like me. Having only dabbled in at-home workouts where the instructor will tell you you’re doing great regardless of whether you’re pushing yourself or just watching the video with your feet propped up, I had no idea what I was capable of.

I knew that personally, I was beginning to feel unhealthy. Working from home means I rarely hit my 10,000 recommended daily steps (although I do take Milo out for a 4/5k walk daily), and I’d begun to feel sedentary, that is, I just wasn’t moving enough. A gym membership felt like a natural progression from my weekly Barre classes, a way in which I could improve during my classes, as well as simply to have something to get me out of the house.

At David Lloyd, every new-joiner gets a consultation with a PT. You can book in for sessions to get you started and let your trainer know what you’re interested in working on and the idea is they craft you a workout.

 

But when I sat down for a ‘first-timer’ consultation with a personal trainer – which comes as standard with my membership – I had absolutely no idea and I was a little bit scared to tell him that. I went home, had a little read of some fitness blogs and Instagram accounts and then realised: my goals are mine. So on my second session, I sidled up to the trainer (I had a female trainer the second time round which boosted my confidence) and laid down the law. I wanted to become stronger, build tone in my arms and legs and grow my peach. Oh and fit back into my really-expensive-but-sorta-tight jeans. I’m relatively comfortable with my body, I fill out jeans pretty well and only sometimes have to breathe in to get into my favourite jeans, but it’s about time I pushed myself to become a Mish 2.0, of sorts. Once I’d vocalised my goals, my trainer helped me to figure out which equipment would be best and helped me to devise a weekly workout plan.

My Fitness Goals:

  • Get stronger; physical goal documented by weekly weight increases
  • Build tone; visual goal
  • Grow my peach; visual goal

How much time do you have?

Something that’s good to figure out before signing a contract is working out how much time you realistically have to dedicate to the gym. Gym memberships are pricey and if you simply don’t have the time, you’ll end up resenting the monthly expense.

I work from home for the most part and so with a few schedule work-arounds, I manage to hit the gym around 4-5 times a week. I’ve included a little snapshot of what my routine tends to look like but I appreciate that this looks slightly insane!

In reality, sometimes I’m at the gym for 45 minutes and others I’m there for 2 hours. Make your week for you. It’s also good at this stage to ask around local gyms for a copy of their class timetable, if that’s your jam, to get a good grasp of what your week could look like.

My trainer recommended that a minimum of 3 times a week is already great and I took it upon myself to do some basic gym maths at home. Note down the cost of a monthly membership, divide it by how many times you’ll go – does it look like it’ll be worth your buck? I worked out that I technically pay £3.50 per session which is a total bargain. This also helps me to be accountable for how much I actually go to the gym.

Motivate Me, Mish!

A big part of the gym experience is motivation to go. There’s a weird #relatable trope around not gymming and just lounging instead but I genuinely enjoy going to the gym. Here are some ways to motivate yourself weekly:

  • Have your gym kit packed: I pack my gym kit every evening after unpacking it post-gym session. Inside I pop a fresh sports bra, vest and leggings (unless I’m wearing it there), my Bobble, a protein bar, padlock, my gym pass, Glossier moisturiser, headphones and deodorant. If your kit is packed, you’re much more likely to go, having already been organised enough to prep it for a grab and go.
  • Block it out in your diary: Each week, I write in my booked classes and planned workouts to my diary so that mid-way through my working day, I can check what’s next on my to-do list and see that ‘oh! It’s time for Spin!’ or ‘ah, it’s arms day!’ and head over. It also means that when you’re planning other things in, you don’t accidentally double-book yourself because I’d be SO down for swapping the gym for a pizza night with the girls!
  • An awesome playlist and/or podcast: My favourites are My Dad Wrote A Porno, Is It Just Me?, Let’s Discuss, and Writer’s Routine.
  • Take a mate: I gym with my boyfriend as well as alone, and it comes as no surprise that when somebody is expecting you, you’re less likely to cancel. Plus, you can often split PT costs to save some dollah dollah.

Kit Yourself Out

C’mon now, we’re all Daisybutter girls here… buying kit and all of that good stuff will help SO much when it comes to motivating yourself for the gym. On the whole, the gym will provide your equipment but it’s also good to be prepared with your gym kit essentials. Let me tell you, I was clueless on my first go.

When it comes to clothing, I’m a huge fan of Lululemon but also equally a fan of TK Maxx bargains. You’ll want low impact sports bras for yoga, holistic activities and training, medium impact for strength training and high impact for most cardio work to keep your love bags at bay. Some of my favourite places to go to for bras are TK Maxx, Nike, F&F Active and H&M. Leggings are pretty much a must: my favourites are these Girlfriend Collective ones and the Lululemon Align Crop, but more affordable options like the Nike Dri-Fit leggings and the Gymshark Sleek Sculpture Crop are always in my rotation. Last but not least, I’m a huge fan of loose, racerback vests on top. T-shirts get in the way but racerback tops offer optimum movement.

My Gym Bag Essentials:

My gym bag has been a work in progress. Who the hell even knows what to take to the gym?! I started off just taking a bottle, but nowadays I sling my Anello backpack full of goodies around with me. I’m one of those strange people that likes to research and ‘do things by the book’, and so here are my recommended essentials, if you’re also a newbie.

  • Water bottle – my favourite is the Bobble
  • Hairbands
  • Your gym notes – I actually change my phone wallpaper to this ahead of arriving for easy reference!
  • Headphones and iPod
  • Deodorant
  • Perfume samples(!!)
  • Shampoo, conditioner, body wash and moisturiser – in a Glossier pouch, of course
  • Padlock
  • Towel
  • Mini towel to take on the gym floor
  • Pre- and post-workout snacks – my favourites are the Graze protein flapjacks and Bounce energy balls

My Current Routine

When it came to actually going-to-the-gym-omg, the biggest hurdle for me was establishing a workout routine and the fear of not knowing what I was doing.

Like I mentioned above, I booked in for a free consultation when I joined and a trainer took me through the cardio machines and strength equipment, teaching me how to adjust everything to ensure correct form, teaching me which muscles I’d be training, as well as how to challenge my muscles. From there, we created a mini routine that I can check in on with her whenever I need.

Hand on heart, nobody cares what you’re doing at the gym. In the nicest way possible.

Everybody has a different set of goals and a different way of working out, so you do you. I asked on Instagram Stories whether you’d find an insight into my workout week useful and it was an overwhelming ‘yes!’ so I’ve shared my typical routines below. I don’t have a weekly set routine, I tend to pick and mix depending on how I feel, week-to-week.

For beginners like me, I’d recommend trying a mix of classes to find what’s good for you and also to not feel intimidated by taking it easy. Everybody has to start somewhere.

Cardio Routines

  • StairMaster: 20 minutes or 125 floors climbed
  • Treadmill: 5 mins warm up at (50%) + 5 mins (90%) + 5 mins (40% – speed walk) until lethargic + 5 mins cool down

Abs and Back (2x a week)

  • Assisted Pull-Ups – 42.5kg (2 x 8 reps)
  • Lateral Pull-Down – 15kg (2 x 8 reps)Seated Row – 15kg (2 x 8 reps)
  • Circuit – Swiss Ball Plank and Roll (8 reps)
  • Plank and Weight Pull (8 reps)
  • Plank and Walk (8 reps)
  • Repeat Circuit section onwards with no rest until lethargic.

Full Body Strength Training (1 or 2x a week)

  • Leg Press – 70kg (3 x 20 reps)
  • Leg Extension – 30kg (3 x 20 reps)
  • Shoulder Press – 20kg (3 x 10 reps)
  • Chest Press – 20kg (3 x 10 reps)Low Pulley – 15kg (3 x 20 reps)
  • Swiss Ball Plank Crunches (2 x 10 reps)
  • TRX Pendulum Pike (2 x 10 reps)
  • TRX Elevated Pull Through (2 x 10 reps)
  • TRX Oblique Crunches (2 x 10 reps)

Squat Rack

  • Back Squats – 40kg (4 x 4)

Happy 2018 gymming!

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