The first trip to the gym can be an intimidating experience. Between the huge dudes lifting massive weights and the women who look like they’ve sprung from bikini competitions, it can be a humbling place for a newbie looking to get started.
Not only that, gyms typically are abuzz with activity—a flurry of people moving from station to station in what seems like organized chaos, especially during the busy hours. Everyone seems to know what they’re doing and is following what seems to be a long list of unwritten etiquette rules.
It’s enough to make a newcomer want to grab an exercise DVD and stay home. But a gym doesn’t have to be an imposing environment. With a little preparation, (along with clearance from your doctor) you’ll soon learn the ropes—along with the pulleys, weights, and machines—in no time. Here’s how: