You’ve finally done it.

After months of “just talking about it,” you’ve finally decided to be about itYou’ve signed up for a gym.

But hold on, there! There are rules in this space! Have you made yourself familiar with the rules and resources of your newfound fitness home?


Come here – let me coach you.

We all were gym newbies once. No worries! We all had to go through that awkward phase where we felt like everywhere we turned, we were in the way or in over our heads. Trust me – it wears off eventually. But until it does, I have a few tips below to help you with the most important things to remember as a gym newbie:

Ask, upfront, what kinds of resources the gym makes available to you, and don’t be afraid to take advantage of them. The gym’s goal should be to get you pumped about being fit, and pummeling you with resources should be a component of that. Do you get two free training sessions with one of the club’s trainers? Take advantage. Does the club offer free fitness or nutrition courses? Take advantage. Pamphlets, books, social media accounts, websites? Take advantage.

Always watch where you’re going. As a beginner in a fitness space, you don’t quite know where everything is, how everything works, or how people usually use the free spaces you all share. Be on high alert. Watch where you’re going, and watch where other people are going. It’s not much different from the real world, except in the gym, people are moving with six foot tall, 45-pound barbells in your direction. Be safe.

Clean up after yourself. No, we’re not all children and no, this isn’t third grade again…but you’d be surprised. Apparently, soreness, heavy weights, dizzying amounts of cardio and a few pull-up bars can turn your favorite people into inconsiderate bums. If you’re lucky enough to get fresh towels, put them where they belong after use. Free weights? Take them wherever you want or need, but when you’re done? Put them back!

And, a personal favorite of mine – wipe down the machines when you’re done. Finished sweating all over the treadmill? Fantastic – wipe it off. Done putting in work on the bench? Great. Do us all a favor and clean up your booty sweat. There’s nothing more traumatizing than seeing someone’s booty imprint on your workout bench.

Be attentive. One of the most valuable and meaningful things about being in a gym environment is the ability to watch others work out. You get to watch trainers and what they do with their clients, you get to watch people who’ve clearly been at it for a few years and what they do, and you get to learn how to use some of the equipment you’ve been staring at, but were too afraid to test out.

Lastly, get over yourself. No, everyone’s not staring at you. And, the few people who might be staring at you, aren’t necessarily thinking something negative about you. It could be that people are trying to see whether or not you’re approachable, and they might want to speak. It could be that you’ve got on a particularly awesome shirt, and they’re trying to figure out where you got it.

…or, since the gym environment – much like the outside world – isn’t safe from jerks, it could be that they’re poking fun at you in their heads. Either way, it’s largely unimportant – unless they’re physically preventing you from doing the work you need to do (in which case, you need to have a spirited chat with management), they’re not in your way. You’re there for a purpose – your own fitness – and they are nowhere near as significant as they’d like you to believe.

Gyms are no different from any other space that you enter as a beginner. Like any other space, you’re there with a specific goal in mind. Do what you can to seek out anyone and everything that’ll help you achieve your goals, and dismiss everything trying to get you there. As I say every week, your body will thank you for it!

Erika Nicole Kendall is the writer behind the award winning blog, A Black Girl’s Guide to Weight Loss, where she blogs her journey of losing over 150lbs. A personal trainer certified in women’s fitness, fitness nutrition and weight loss coaching, she can be found on Facebook and Twitter.