Everyone feels some nervousness when they’re trying something new for the first time. That’s particularly true for gym-goers or people joining a new facility.

Here’s a map of the most common gym areas and tips to help start you off on the right foot.

Cardio
Usually, near the front of the gym, the cardio area features groups of machines such as treadmills, rowers, bikes and stair climbers.

It’s one of the most popular areas because people use the machines for warm-ups, cool downs or entire workouts.

Many machines turn on when they move, so you just need to read the screen to set yourself up.

Most cardio areas have TVs and entertainment systems. Wearable devices connect with the machines through Bluetooth and measure your activity and energy output.


Strength and free weights
This tends to be the most intimidating area of the gym so it’s important to ask a professional to show you the equipment and how to use it.

Free weights are generally organized by muscle groups and located by machines.

You’ll use platforms, racks and barbells for exercises such as squats and deadlifts.

 

Strength machines
These machines are usually next to the strength and free weights area.

Most gyms organize them in a circuit style so you can move easily between them. Sometimes they’re arranged by muscle groups.

Staff offer tutorials and the machines usually have instructions on them.

The great thing is their versatility. You can do everything from leg extensions to hamstring curls to chest presses and lat pulldowns.

 

Conditioning/turf zone
This area is for workouts involving sled pushes, kettlebells, medicine balls and general conditioning movements.

Team Training is often done in this area so check out what demo classes are offered.


Stretching zones
Most clubs have stretch/recovery zones with mats and specialized equipment. This includes a stretching machine you sit on that moves your body, as well as bars, rubber bands and foam rollers.

If you aren't sure, be sure to ask a professional how to use the equipment to avoid hurting yourself.


Group Fitness studios 
BODYATTACK, BODYPUMP, RPM – there are Group Fitness Classes for every fitness level so try as many as you can to find one that clicks with you.

Ask an associate at the front desk what the schedules are and whether you can reserve a spot.

Talk to the instructor beforehand and let him or her know you’re new and they’ll gladly set you up.

People often think they’re not in good enough shape to make it through a whole class.

Guess what? You can leave early. Many people don’t know this and it prevents them from participating. Just quietly put your equipment away and exit.


Now that you know the lay of the land, here are some tips:

No one is looking at you

People are often self-conscious when they enter a gym for the first time, thinking other members are judging their current fitness level, how they’re using the machines or even what they’re wearing. 

The bottom line is people are not watching each other. They only care about their own workout so just put on your headphones and do your own thing.

Use the freebies

Go on the welcome tour to see how everything is set up and ask questions such as when the busiest times are and what you should wear.

Take advantage of equipment demo sessions, attend a starter Group Fitness Class and use a guest pass to bring a friend so the early experience is more enjoyable and supportive.

Whether or not you think you need it, these offers will orientate you and you’ll learn one or two new things that will help you at that particular facility.

Go in with a plan

Your GoodLife membership includes a free fitness starter with a Personal Trainer. Spend an hour going over your health and fitness goals, and they can help set you up with an initial plan.

GoodLife also has introductory Personal Training sessions, which are smaller packages at lower prices.

Learn gym etiquette

Ensure you're wiping down machines after you use them.

If a machine has a holder for water bottles or music devices, use it so you don’t create a flying object!

Keep the volume on your headphones to a reasonable level so it doesn’t distract other members from their workouts.

Make your membership count
You should feel pride that you’re taking the first step to improving your health and fitness.

Just ensure you have a plan so you get the most out of your membership and it doesn’t become just another card in your wallet.