Fit ‘n’ Healthy: Getting to Know Your Gym Better

Welcome to the gym! My goal for this weeks’ article is to give you a few tools that hopefully will make you feel a bit more comfortable entering a gym for the first time.

When you first enter the facility, you will be greeted by the front desk staff. Tell them that you are new to the facility and that you would like a tour of the facility.

Have a look around, make sure that what you are looking for is there. Do you want cardio equipment, group classes, free weights? Ask when the busiest times are. Is there a lineup for equipment at the time you want to go? Is there pre-registration or sign up for the group classes you are interested in taking? What type of clientèle frequents the gym at the time period you are interested in training? Do they have clean change rooms and shower facilities?

If you are comfortable after your tour, ask what your options are for membership and what the different memberships include. Can your membership be upgraded to include some things you may want such as tanning? Is there a minimum time period to your membership? Can it be frozen or cancelled at any time? How hard is it to cancel or change your membership?

Be sure to ask all the questions you have up front as this is the time for you to decide if purchasing a gym membership is right for you.

You will feel more comfortable talking shop if you know a few gym terms:

Free weights: These are weights that are not connected to machines. They include dumbbells, barbells, ez curl bars, weight plates and Olympic bars.

Dumbbells: These are the short weights. They are usually not adjustable and range in size from one pound to beyond what you will ever want to lift.

Barbells: These are the long bars. Like dumbbells they are usually not adjustable in a gym environment and range in size from 20 pounds and up.

Olympic Bars: These bars are seven feet long and weigh 45 pounds. They are the bars typically seen used for bench press and squats. Weight plates are added to these bars to adjust the amount of weight used.

EZ Curl Bars: Some of these bars are curved. These are known as ez curl bars. They are easier on elbow and wrist joints and give more options on hand placement than a straight barbell. They re usually used for bicep and tricep (arm) exercises. Like Olympic bars weight plates are added to the bar in order to adjust the amount of weight you are lifting.

Weight Plates: These are round plates of varying sizes that are added to bars and machines in order to adjust the amount of weight you are lifting. Weight plates come in 2.5-pound, five-pound, 10-pound, 25-pound, 35-pound and 45-pound increments.

The plates are usually found on what is called a “weight tree” which is simply a stand for the plates.

Weight Machines: There are literally hundreds of different types of machines that you will find in the gym and this is where things can get intimidating. Not knowing what machines you should use, if you are using the machine properly and how much weight to select the first time.

Luckily, you will find that these days there are diagrams and descriptions written on the machine as well as the name of the exercise.

It is always best to get a trainer to design a program for you and show you the machines that you should be using and how to use them properly.

Don’t feel rushed the first few times in the gym. Take your time, get to know your surroundings and know that your workouts will get better as you get more comfortable.

Remember, everyone starts out as a newbie and soon that person won’t be you.

This column is provided by Peak Fitness. Mrs. Lee Randell is an ACE certified personal trainer. Contact information and past articles are available Anyone who wants to begin an exercise program should consult their physician first.

This column is provided by Mrs. Lee Randell, independent fitness consultant, who is an ACE certified advanced health and fitness specialist and personal trainer. You can reach her at

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