Ah, the gym. It’s one of the few public places where you feel like you’re under constant surveillance, that everyone is better than you and that you could humiliate yourself at any given moment.
If you’re thinking of starting a fresh year with a shiny new membership, here are a few things you should know. Let the gruelling cardio sessions commence…
1. You will be horrendously intimidated
The first time you walk into the gym, you will probably feel like walking back out again. Between the super muscly guys in the weights room, the perfectly-dressed gym bunnies in their designer clothing and the people on the treadmill watching you dither around the equipment, there’s a lot to feel self-conscious about.
Don’t worry though, pretty much everyone spends the start of their gym career feeling like a total lemon – you just have to suck it up and crack on.
2. People will annoy you
The guy that took the last kettlebell you needed, the girl that’s hogging the mirror taking selfies, the endless queue for the shower when you’re in a rush – the gym will bring out a specific type of hatred that you’ll struggle to control.
3. Dry shampoo is your friend
That lunchtime class seemed like a good idea at the time, until you have to dash to your next meeting with hair that looks like it’s been doused in cooking oil.
If you want to avoid looking like Danny Zuko, it’s always a good idea to carry a can of dry shampoo in your bag.
4. Do not skip the induction
It’s tempting to sack off the induction and launch straight into exercising without any formal introduction to the gym machines.
This is a mistake.
Many of today’s modern machines have complicated touch screens and functions that wouldn’t look out of place in Minority Report – and if you don’t know how to use them, you risk being humiliated. One wrong touch of the button could see you flung off the treadmill faster than you can say ‘burpee’.
5. You won’t go as much as you plan to
After seeing a horrendous chunk of money leave your account, you’ll be eager to make sure you get the most value out of your membership by going at least five times a week.
Sadly, this never happens. Life gets in the way and, let’s face it, you’re also lazy. Just accept the fact that you won’t become Joe Wicks overnight.
6. Nothing will prepare you for the pain of DOMS
Oh, post-exercise pain, how we loathe thee. You’ll learn quickly that there are certain types of exercises that will quite literally cripple you for days afterwards.
Prepare to struggle to walk down stairs, sit down on the toilet and even sneeze while wincing in pain.
7. You will want to invest in some decent gear
You might feel super smug buying a pair of bargain leggings online, but you’ll quickly regret it when they turn completely see-through during a squat, exposing your derriere to the entire gym.
It’s actually a good idea to avoid fashion-led sportwear altogether. Fiddly lattice bra straps, weird cutaway areas that require you to shave you’re legs – they’ll all get on your last nerve during a gym class.
Take our advice and invest in some practical, not fashionable, sports gear that supports you through all kinds of exercises.
8. Prepare to be mansplained
If you show any kind of indecision about any piece of equipment, get ready for some overbearing beefcake to snatch it off you and show you exactly how you should be doing it.
We know they’re just trying to be helpful, but we can’t help but be annoyed. Let us um and ah in peace, please.
9. At some point, you’ll stop feeling self-conscious
After a few sessions, you’ll realise that nobody is looking at you and everyone is busy focusing on their own thing.
Miraculously, all the hideously irritating things about joining the gym for the first time will fade away and you’ll actually come to love the feeling of looking after your body.
Increased energy levels, better sleep, a trimmer bod – you’ll start to see why people actually do this regularly. There’s simply nothing else like it.