10 Things No One Tells You Before You Join a Gym

Personal fitness trainer Scott Laidler explains everything that no one bothers to explain before you sign up for gym membership, from sauna etiquette to dealing with over-zealous muscle men.

1. It’s not just about the gym

When you first sign up for a gym membership, the normal intention is to head there a couple of times a week to get some pretty attainable results. The reality is that the more you get drawn into the training culture, the more you become invested in your results; healthy living starts to creep into every facet of your lifestyle. You start planning what you eat, counting the calories, and refusing that last drink on a night out because you know you have a training session the next day.

As sad as it sounds, what happens in the gym doesn’t stay in the gym.


2. You get to really know people, but you never learn their names

It’s inevitable that your training schedule will coincide with others’; the more you work out, the more you see them. Sooner or later, you start talking to these people. You share conversations about training to begin with, and then, as your gym-buddy relationship develops, you start to learn about each other’s lives outside the gym. But you never actually shake hands and introduce yourself.

I think the semi-anonymous aspect of these relationships helps guys unload with honesty. I’ve seen guys speak about relationships, divorces, investments, parenting tips and life plans, only to come over to me shortly afterwards and ask ‘what’s that guy’s name again?’

3. Big Guys will unload The Knowledge on you

Big Guys like to think they know their stuff. Join a gym as a newbie and it’s a fair bet that within the first week you’ll be on the free-weight floor when a Big Guy will sidle over and offer some advice. Sometimes it’ll be great advice, sometimes it’ll be old rhetoric from the 70s.

Correct protocol is always to listen to the Big Guy. You don’t have to take his advice on board, but you do have to look like you will. He’s a big dude, and that’s just the way it is.


4. Approach the sauna with an open mind

Never assume that the sauna rules of your local gym are transferable to sweat boxes elsewhere.

Sauna culture is always fascinating: it’s fairly common knowledge that on the continent they bath in the buff, but did you know that in LA it’s not uncommon for gym members to take fitness equipment into the sauna and continue their workouts?

I’ve seen extensive phone conversations and even fully dressed guys who want to get a sweat on before they start training. Be prepared for the unexpected.

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