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How to get started in the Gym

How to get started in the gym?

We all know that just doing 1 or 2 hours of exercise can be enough to drastically improve our health yet many of us still avoid it. I’m sure you all brush your teeth to ensure good dental health so should a workout or two per week be so much different.

I believe the reason people avoid the gym is because they simply have no idea where to start or what they should be doing. Which is why I have put together this simple guide to help you overcome the hurdle of getting started.

What's your why?

What’s your why?

If you are going to commit to hours of workouts you need to know what you truly want from it and by doing it what will it give you. This is when people usually tell me they want a six pack because they think it will make them happy. But let’s face it many of us wear a t-shirt for 90% of the day and our partners or future partner would love us with or without that six pack. I feel it’s important to ask yourself what would having a six pack really give you. Is it really worth it and will it actually make you happier? Now if you are planning to be on the cover of a magazine or getting ready for a photo shoot. Then go for it, get that six pack, but for the majority of us it’s just not worth it.

So, ask yourself now, what is it that you truly want from your hours in the gym and will it make you happy? Most of us should be focusing on the health and mental benefits exercise brings us rather that how we look.

To give you an example my reason for going to the gym 2-3 times per week is longevity. I want to be able to live a pain free life for as long as possible and stand the best chance of fighting off any disease and illness. This will hopefully give me more time to spend on this planet with those that I care about.

Rob at RJ-Fitness
Learn to love exercise

Exercise in a way you love until you love to exercise.

When it comes to exercise and training there are many different approaches to take. Such as joining a gym, doing classes, home workouts, taking up a sport/hobby, running and swimming. What I usually tell my clients is to focus on what they enjoy first. It can be hard to push yourself into a new routine that involves something you absolutely hate doing.

So, if you love to swim then go swimming, or if you love to be sociable then go join a gym class or a running group. Find something that works for you and that makes you feel good. This is similar to a quote I heard on a podcast recently. “If you want to get into reading you should first read what you love until you love to read”. With exercise it’s exactly the same “exercise in a way you love until you love to exercise”.

Make it easy for yourself

Try to make your new routine easy to do because we all like the easier options and we make excuses to avoid the hard things. An example of this can be to join a gym that’s on your route to work. This way you have no excuses to drive past it. Prepare your gym kit in advance, maybe even get changed at work because at this point you’ve already committed to going. Don’t force yourself to be there for an hour, 30 minutes or 45minutes is easily enough time if it’s well spent.

Make time each week

This is the part that most people get wrong, when they join a gym or go running. People seem to hit the first couple of weeks too hard and pressure themselves to do it 5 days per week. We’ve all done it though even I will admit to it. But honestly, it’s the worst approach as it usually leads to injury or burnout or both.

It will serve you much better to set aside 2 or 3 evenings or mornings per week. Where you have time to put into doing whatever exercise you choose. Try to stick to the same days so it builds on your routine and becomes a habit. If a client tells me they want 3 workouts per week I always aim to schedule them on a Monday, Wednesday and a Friday. Or if they say two workouts then Monday and Thursday work well. You get the picture, put in place specific days where you will get your workouts done.

Make time to train to help you get started

Tell your family and friends

Don’t keep your new workout plan a secret, tell your family and friends because the more people you tell, the more likely you are to do it. Your family and friends will check in with you. They will only make jokes at your expense if you quit on week 1 so that should be enough to give you a push to get things done.

Photo of online training app

Plan your workout routine

It’s important to have some idea what you are going to do at the gym before you arrive. If you are new to the gym this doesn’t have to be a complicated program. It can simply be using a machine or exercise for each area of the body. But you’d benefit from noting down the weight and reps that you lifted in order for you to improve. Read this article for more information about the importance of following a program. If you would prefer to have a program designed for you then there are many online coaches that can help. For more information visit Online Personal Training

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Most gyms are staffed with gym instructors and personal trainers who I don’t think are utilised enough. Far too often I will witness a person in the gym struggle to work a piece of equipment rather than go ask someone for help. Make full use of the staff in gyms as you never know what you may learn. Also use the induction process to get familiar with all the equipment and the layout of the gym. If you are a nervous gym goer then perhaps ask when the quietest times are so you can avoid the peak hours.

Consider hiring an Expert

I understand that many of us perceive personal training to be expensive. But it can also be a smart investment if you consider the amount, you could potentially learn about yourself and training in the gym. I always like to compare personal training to be like learning to drive. You have someone there to tell you what to do and how to improve your skill, to the point when you can do it alone.

Personal training can be just like this, but it can depend on your trainer as they all have different approaches. I usually advise my clients to see me 1-2 times per week and to do a session on their own too. This provides them the opportunity to implement what they have learnt with me whilst still being able to receive direct support. You can learn more about in person personal training here.

Personal trainers are great at helping you get started
80-20 Rule is helps you to get started

The 80 – 20 rule

Things will happen at work, you’ll have holidays and Christmas too. These events can throw your workout routine off but when this happens don’t pressure yourself too much. You can always catch up or just get back on it the following week. As long as you stick to your workout days at least 80% of the time then it’s fine. The other 20% is there for those times your child is sick, or work ask you stay late. But there may come a time that you let things go a little too much. If you feel this is happening just have an honest conversation with yourself, and whilst you’re doing that give yourself a kick up the back side too.


Accountability will always come up during conversations with new clients. They are usually looking for someone to tell them what to do, when to do it and to push them too. Which is why so many people get great results when working with a personal trainer. Although it’s important to find some other ways of holding yourself accountable. Find yourself a gym buddy and don’t be shy, your friends are probably looking for some accountability too. You could book slot on a class, so you have a set time and place you must be at. You can even reward yourself after each workout too. By placing £1 into a savings account on each completed workout. After 3 months spend it on a new dress or latest gadget that you’ve always wanted.

Just get started

I hear it all too often that people will wait for the perfect time to get started at the gym. With excuses of it not being a good month, or I’m really busy at work at the moment. Sometimes these are just the excuses we tell ourselves. But in reality, these things are never going to change and there will never be the perfect time. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “the best time to plant a tree was 100 years ago but the second best time is right now”. Sometimes you just have to wake up and get started.  

how to get started

If you found this article helpful and it inspired you to get started then let me know via the comments. I’d love to hear about any of the struggles you’ve experience in the gym and how you have overcome them.

Written by – Rob Jackson – Coach and owner of RJ-Fitness
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