Things to do after you join a gym

Got yourself a gym membership? That’s great! Now before you get on that treadmill, make sure you check out your current fitness levels.

Joining a gym to get into shape is always a good idea. However, many people make the mistake of simply joining and starting off on arbitrary exercises without getting proper counselling first. This can lead to frustration over lack of optimum results.

A good gym will take you through a series of steps before creating a workout plan for you. So if you’re planning to join a gym, ensure that your fitness trainer checks you for the following before recommending exercises for you:

Check your current fitness levels

No one exercise plan can fit all. Which is why it’s absolutely essential to check your current fitness levels, based on age, lifestyle and medical history.

Cardio test: The first thing most gyms ask a new member to do take is a treadmill test. You will be asked to walk for 12 minutes or 2 km (whichever comes first) and your heart rate will then be checked (The time period may vary from gym to gym).

Strength test: This test is used to check what your current strength is. In this you are asked to lift the

maximum weight you possibly can. For instance, you might be able to bench press 70 pounds at one time. This becomes your current strength.

Strength endurance test: Next comes a strength endurance test, wherein the trainer will check your upper body and lower body strength.

Upper body strength is ascertained by seeing how many repetitions of bench press you can do in 1 minute. This is related to your strength test. So in you had been able to do one repetition of bench press of 70 pounds, you will now be given 50% of that or 35 pounds to bench press for a minute.

Lower body strength is established by seeing how many squats you can do in 1 minute.

Flexibility test: Your trainer should also check to see how flexible you are. This is done by making you sit

on the ground and reaching for your toes. Use a tape measure, the distance you can reach is entered into your chart. Usually, this test is repeated after you’ve been working out for a month or two to check for changes.

Body composition: It is, of course, essential to check your weight to determine what your target weight should be. However, weight alone does not give a true picture of a person’s fitness. Which is why a trainer will also compute your BMI or Body Mass Index.

Along with that, many gyms also conduct a skin fold test to check for how much fat you have. This is done with the help of callipers.

Counselling session

Most good gyms have a doctor on board as well. Before you start on your exercise regimen, you must have a chat with the doctor and let her or him know about any medical conditions you might have, like asthma, previous surgeries and family history of diseases.

If the gym has an in-house nutritionist, be sure to discuss what you should be adding to and cutting out of your diet. You may need to increase your intake of protein if you’re going to take up strength training, whereas a lot of cardio will require you to increase your consumption of carbohydrates. Depending on your current eating habits and fitness goals, the nutritionist could design a customised food plan for you.

If you’re new to a gym, make sure you go through the aforementioned steps, as that will allow your trainer to design an exercise plan that works well for you.

With inputs from Kavitha Santosh Kumar, Trainer at Gold’s Gym

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