Advice to gym newbies: Dress properly, avoid 'roids

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Congratulations, if you’ve made a New Year’s resolution to get in better shape in 2016. If you’re heading to the gym as a newbie (or for those who speak military acronym – FNG) or just haven’t gone in years, I’ll provide you with some info to help you avoid embarrassing yourself and to keep the gym protocol rolling smoothly so the regulars won’t get their panties in a bunch.

First off, I’m no Charles Atlas, just a guy who’s pretty much addicted to exercise. I’m in so-so shape and in my 50s, so I won’t set off the Lunk Alarm, as Planet Fitness derisively calls muscle heads. But I’ve spent years in gyms trying to avoid obesity and type 2 diabetes played a role in my father’s early demise. We gym “regulars” aren’t upset that a new crop of folks has decided to hit the gym. We don’t mind a crowded gym as much as those who are clueless in it.

Gym attire is probably the first thing you should consider. Almost all women look better in tight leggings or yoga pants, but men should avoid them like a Cosby cocktail. Guys, you’re best off wearing a t shirt and shorts or sweat pants, no jeans, please. If you’re in terrific shape, sure, throw on a tank top now and then to show off the guns, but the majority should resist the wife beaters. Longer shorts or sweat pants work just fine for the bottom half. Don’t throw on short shorts reminiscent of the NBA 80’s era. And don’t do what I saw a 60-ish, grey-haired guy did recently at my gym. He had on compression shorts WITHOUT a regular pair of shorts on over them. My eyes still cannot un-see that.

Generally, the more serious lifters take over the free weight section, so novices enter there at your own risk. Average physique folks like me, with delusions of Arnold grandeur long since gone, stick with machines mostly. My biggest pet peeve currently is people who sit on machines or a weight bench reading or texting on their phones. Leave the damn things in the locker room. If you can’t disconnect and be unreachable for an hour, that’s a YOU problem, and YOU should probably find a better use for your hard earned money. Don’t rest or lean on a machine, at least in the late afternoon/early evening when the crowds are at a peak. Allow someone to work in with you, alternating sets, if needed.

Most of us listen to iPods in the gym, but it’s OK to take the ear buds off and chat briefly during a workout. It’s not OK, however, to hold long conversations with someone on a machine or someone in the middle of a workout unless you’re both just starting or finishing at the same time. Either way, the warm up area, locker room or hallway are better places to catch up. If you use the cardio machines, don’t forget to wipe ’em down afterward. If you’re not sweating on them, kick it up a notch.

That’s enough to get you started. Just be aware of others around you, even if you’re zoning out listening to your favorite radio statio or your favorite tunes on shuffle. Don’t overdo it the first couple of weeks. You’ll be sore and won’t want to come back. Step up the intensity of your workouts slowly and gradually. It’s a marathon not a sprint, and you gotta stick with it for more than a few weeks to see results. We gym regulars want you coming back – it makes for a better atmosphere when there are bodies in motion in the gym.

Good luck and stay off the steroids.

About the Author
Doc Watson likes to say he's not a real doctor, "but I play one on the radio." A native of Allen Park, Mich., he became a transplanted Peorian in 1996 when he came here to start the Morning Mix TV/radio simulcast show. Now he's a jock with 95.5 GLO and is " happy to be playing the music of my misguided youth." Though known for his voice, he occasionally dabbles with the written word and does that pretty well, too.