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Gym fears and solutions for first-time members

April 6, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
After a four-month hiatus, Nate Barlow is back at the gym recovering from a leg injury. But he knows all too well the first time fear of joining the gym.

"The first time, like with any big project, until you kind of get your groove, until you know what the game plan is, it can be daunting," Barlow said.

Scott Sechrest of the CYBEX Research Institute understands the anxieties first-time gym goers experience.

"It's a sea of metal. They don't know what they're going to do. They don't know how to adjust to the machines. They just become overwhelmed," said Sechrest.

Shiny oversized equipment, lights and bells can be scary. JC Holt of the Burbank YMCA says the key is customer support.

"So you'll be assigned a healthy lifestyle coach. That lifestyle coach will help you set up on every piece of equipment," Holt said.

They also use a computerized program called Fit Links that shows each user how to use the machine, the proper weight and number of repetitions needed.

And, most weighted equipment today has placards showing which muscles are worked on each machine. There are also seat and lever adjustments along with pins to choose amount of weight desired.

"The really key thing to do is to take advantage of the staff in these facilities," said Sechrest.

Clubs need you to stay in business, so most provide a few free training sessions when you start, or a session where they'll take you through the club to explain equipment. If you pass on their offer, you're likely to use only what's familiar -- a sure fire way to fail.

If you find yourself using the same equipment and doing the same old thing, you're going to get the same old results. That's maintenance for your body. The big trend in fitness is called muscle confusion. You need to surprise your body and mix things up.

Work with the staff and every four to six weeks make it a rule to get to a new cardio machine or class and make weight training a part of your program.

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