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Fitness 101: What to do and not do at the gym

fitness032511_optBY JENN A. NOCERA

As the New Year began, many people resolved to lose weight and get in shape. Among fitness enthusiasts, there is an understanding that the gyms will be packed with “Resolutioners” for about the first six weeks of the year. Regular gym-goers cannot wait until mid-February when the gym environment begins to return to normal with fewer visitors. They know that the “Resolutioners” will have either been injured, burnt themselves out by overtraining, or giving up by that time. Then comes Spring, with it’s influx of people who have forgotten their resolutions but are alarmed at the approaching bathing suit season. Again, regular gym-goers will be tested.

These are not necessarily ill-spirited sentiments. The feelings come from the many disruptions that new visitors to the gym create. Since most of the newcomers are unfamiliar with proper gym etiquette, it creates extra tension in the overly-crowded environment. Hopefully, this article will shed some light on what not to do at the gym.

From a personal trainer’s perspective, the number one abuse of one’s gym time and disrespect of fellow gym-goers is texting or using your cell phone anywhere in the gym. It’s even worse if you refuse to give up your machine but continue to text! Please do not “hang out” in the locker room, sitting around texting or having arguments on your phone. Everyone needs to keep moving – it’s a gym after all!

Proper gym etiquette involves good manners and common sense. It, also, requires that you wipe your sweat off of the equipment after you use it. Please allow others to “work in” with you, meaning that you will alternate sets with someone if they are waiting to use the same machine. This may seem obvious, but please watch where you are going and be alert to your surrounds at all times. If you bump into someone during a set, it can be dangerous for both parties. Weights are involved!

There are too many mistakes in form and choice of movement to mention in one article. However, keep in mind that correct form involves good posture, control of the movement, and proper breathing (i.e., exhale upon exertion). Ask a trainer or someone more skilled for assistance, if you need it. Gyms are generally very friendly places, and almost everyone is willing to help.

Misconceptions regarding nutrition and hydration are very common. It is important to remain well-hydrated all day long and especially while training. Carry a water bottle with you. Do not fall into the trap of thinking that you will appear thinner if you are not “retaining water”. This is counterintuitive – your body will actually retain water if you become dehydrated. Similarly, if you do not eat enough calories to fuel yourself, your body will begin to shut down. It will enter a “starvation mode” and begin to store calories as fat. The very act of eating stokes your metabolism. Aim for five to six small, balanced meals per day.

Other gym mistakes include overtraining and failure to stretch. Aim for five or six training days per week at the most! If you are a beginner, ease into your new routine. Three 30-minute workouts per week would be an excellent start. Your body needs time to adjust to the new demands you are placing on it. Your muscles need time to recover in order to grow. Rotate your exercise routine. Be sure to warm-up and stretch. Many injuries can be avoided if you set aside time to do this.

Training will enhance your mood and give you energy. It will, also, require that you get plenty of sleep in order to recover. Otherwise, you will be working against yourself. Your adrenal glands will become stressed, and you will eventually burn out.

Last but certainly not least, wearing plastic bags under a sweat suit at the gym is simply not acceptable. This is something wrestlers have used to “make weight”. Excess sweating as an approach to weight loss is unhealthy. There are no shortcuts to healthy weight loss and maintenance. You need to eat right, exercise, and get plenty of rest.

As a Life & Wellness Coach, Psychotherapist, and Personal Fitness Trainer, Coach Jenn A. Nocera, MA, MFT, CLSC, CPFT works with clients to redesign their lifestyle habits. Visit her site at


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Comments (2)
2 Tuesday, 10 June 2014 04:39
I enjoyed reading it. I need to read more on this topic...I admiring time and effort you put in your blog, because it is obviously one great place where I can find lot of useful info..
1 Tuesday, 10 June 2014 04:30
I enjoyed reading it. I need to read more on this topic...I admiring time and effort you put in your blog, because it is obviously one great place where I can find lot of useful info..

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