I Joined The Gym – Now What?

joined the gym


I remember when I first going the gym.

A few months before my 18th birthday, I remember my friend inviting me to join the gym with her.

Joining a gym was a fairly new concept to me. You know, the whole exercise because you want to thing.

I always hated gym class (and fainted as you know if asked to run) and even though my dad was a runner, exercise was not exactly a family topic.

As much as I recall going to the gym routinely over the last 18 years (am I really 36?!) and never really stopping except for the first couple of years of my son’s life, what I don’t remember at all is how I figured out what I was supposed to do once I joined the gym.


We are just about in the middle of February. I am curious to know how many people who joined the gym as their New Year’s resolution have already given up.

Maybe though, people who recently joined the gym are giving up because they are lost once they get inside.

Maybe it has nothing to do with lack of desire to get in shape but everything to do with being intimidated, feeling out of their element and unsure of where to start and what the heck to do.

I joined, the gym. NOW WHAT?!

What can you do to become better acclimated to your gym?


Most memberships offer you access to a training session/evaluation. Use it.

Take the opportunity to set up the appointment and have one-on-one time with a fitness professional who can direct you to a routine, show you how to use the machines and answer your questions.

What to ask:


What is the right setting for each machine for me?

Where do I position the seats for me? How exactly do I position the seats? (those knobs can get confusing)

How many sets for each machine do you recommend?

What muscle group(s) does this target?

What weight should I be setting the machines to?  How do I change the weights?

How often should I use this machine and should I being doing certain machines together on certain days?

Cardio equipment:

How do I use this machine?

What are the best settings?

What muscle groups does this machine target?


I still don’t know exactly what type of cardio machine this was or if I was using it correctly but I liked it.

Check out a group fitness class or two.

Even if taking classes won’t become your thing, you may learn a few key moves to incorporate into your own routine.

Sometimes those body pump classes are great for teaching you which muscle groups to work and what to do with the free weights on your own.

And, a spin class may help you to recognize how to push yourself on a cardio level which you can incorporate on your own time in the cardio section of the gym.


Make Whatever You Do Count.

What I mean is, if you are going to bother to do anything in the gym, show some effort which doesn’t have to be complicated or overly involved.

Of course walking at 2.0 is better than sitting on the couch but I have a feeling you can bump up your pace, put some hustle in your step and make the workout work for you.

I spent way too many gym days trying not to ruin my hair when I should have been focusing on breaking a sweat, producing some endorphins, boosting my fitness and toning my muscles.

You may lose weight at first just because you are moving your body but over time, if you are looking to see the full results you desire, you gotta work for it.

Don’t give up.

It takes a little time to navigate your way around in terms of developing your fitness routine, finding your groove and making it a healthy habit.

I don’t know exactly how I figured out what to do in the gym but what I do know is that my natural workout approach has always been pretty simple and cardio-focused.

Not everyone is like me.

Plenty of people prefer weight training and I really don’t think there is a “right” approach to fitness other than learning to find what you love, doing it often AND being mindful of working all of the muscle groups which means a combo of both strength training and cardio in your life.

free weights

I know how to run but what I do with the free weights is questionable.

I won’t even try to offer your strength training tips, routines and workouts.

Instead, here are some of my favorite fitness blogs to check out for their weight-training and circuit workouts, demonstrations and easy-to-follow (and understand) advice:

Peanut Butter Fingers Circuit Workout Page

Jessie Loves To Run Workout Page

Peanut Butter Runner Workout Page

I hope this helps!

[bctt tweet=”I joined the gym, now what do I do? #fitness #workouts”]


How old were you when you first joined a gym?

Are you more cardio-focused or strength-training focused?

Do you go to the gym before or after work?


Author: The Cookie ChRUNicles

Hi! I'm Meredith. Join me while I run and cook my way through single motherhood. It is always an adventure trying to teach my 12 year old son the benefits of an active lifestyle combined with healthy eating while of course, still leaving room for dessert.

33 thoughts on “I Joined The Gym – Now What?”

    1. As someone who naturally enjoys movement, I’m more cardio based. I’d love to join the gym but I’m short on money at the time being and all the gyms take 30 minutes to get to–and I’d rather just do something from home in those 30 minutes, you know?

  1. I do love a good spin class. I’m signed up for one today in fact.
    I’ve been a gym rat for several years now, and for awhile I swam laps in the morning before most people (not you of course) are even awake. The last handful of years though, I hit the gym on my lunch hour which is probably my favorite time. Yes, it means I have to shower again in the middle of a busy day and redo my hair and make up, etc, but it also gets me out of work and lets me blow off steam in the middle of the day. It allows me to come back refreshed and ready to tackle more projects, and I don’t have to wake up early or force it in evenings to do it.

    1. I love the idea of getting to the gym in the middle of the work day. Definitely helps to release steam and make the afternoon that much better. I never ever liked working out in the evening/after work so this middle of the day thing, if I couldn’t do it in the morning, would be my next option.

  2. I remember first going to the gym when I went to college. Some of my friends had gym memberships before leaving for college so they sort of showed me around. But at college fitness centers they don’t really show you around or offer sessions for new members since all the freshman are new members every year (at least they didnt offer that stuff at my college.) I feel like I get alot more out of taking classes when it comes to strength training, otherwise I feel like I may not work hard enough just to get out of there faster:)

  3. I used to be more strength training focused, but since doing races I have been more cardio focused. I really need to find a better balance- even though I do both I definitely do more cardio lately!

    1. I have found that Pure Barre helped me to balance out my cardio with the strength stuff. I was never great about getting the weights and strength training in since I focus more on cardio but doing the barre routine 4-5 days a week has made a major difference for me.

  4. Aw! You’re the sweetest for including my workout page. I just want to bring you a red mango parfait =P Which had I not been stuffed from lunch this afternoon I totally would’ve ordered one. Next time!

  5. Strength training totally intimidates me at the gym! I am not one to enjoy going to the gym to begin with, but cardio stuff isn’t scary. I just look at weight machines or even the pull up bar and feel clueless. Clearly it’s just lack of experience, so many one day…

  6. Joined the Jewish Community Center on Albany when I was 25, though mostly for the pool. Probably too intimidated to use the machines or weights.

    Definitely more cardio-focused, though running hard/sprinting is a great, under-appreciated form of strength/resistance training for building appropriately proportional lower body muscles.

    When I worked a “9-5” job, I went to the gum after work.

  7. I don’t think anyone in my family ever had a gym membership. It just wasn’t a big deal in my family. But as soon as I got to college and fell in love with the gym there, I’ve had a membership ever since! Right now I just have a membership at my work gym, which isn’t super fancy but it’s not crowded and they have all I need!

  8. Hey cool, we’re the same age! I just turned 37 in January. And yes, I joined a gym when I was a teenager as well and because I had always been a runner, all I did was run on the treadmill. So I decided to quit that and just run outside instead but I think back then it was the cool thing to do, to go to the gym with friends.

    1. Totally with you – it was cool back then for me too to go to the gym after school with some friends. I canceled my gym membership last year because I preer to run outside too and do the best I can to do so all year. I have a small gym inside my community which really serves the treadmill/cross training purpose so I find my routine to really work for me without spending on a gym membership right now.

    2. Totally with you – it was cool back then for me too to go to the gym after school with some friends. I canceled my gym membership last year because I prefer to run outside too and do the best I can to do so all year. I have a small gym inside my community which really serves the treadmill/cross training purpose so I find my routine to really work for me without spending on a gym membership right now.

  9. The gym can be very overwhelming for people…especially those that are already self conscious about their weight and fitness levels! I am definitely more strength focused at the gym since I teach so many classes that hit up my cardio levels! I am pretty sure I joined my first gym when I was 16 or 17…but I am also a phys ed teacher…so I LOVED gym class! 😉

  10. I’m not a fan of the gym, maybe I just never found the right one, but even after losing a huge chunk of weight on my own at home, going to the gym scared the crap out of me. The last gym membership I bought was in February a couple of years ago and I cancelled it in april. I’m sure everyone thought I was just a “resolutioner.” but I’m just not a gym person 🙂 I’ll also never be a cross fit kind of girl, I love cardio and do strength training for variety.

  11. Good points! I never thought about people giving up on their resolutions because they were lost in the gym…and I was kinda the same way! My first gym membership was about 18 too, and I went from gym to gym to gym b/c I never “felt comfortable”….now I realize that it WAS more because I just didn’t know what the heck I was doing! I always ended up just running on my own because I knew how to do THAT! haha Group classes really helped me though as far as learning what to do…

  12. This please wipe down the machine, I don’t wanna have to go use the only adjustable bench by the free weights after you just got finished having flat and rolling your fat sweaty head on it then not wiping it down, seriously pissed me off yesterday

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