Tips For Going Back to the Gym

Gyms can be intimidating.  Heck, Planet Fitness based their entire business model on this idea.  When you are out of shape and haven’t been to a gym in years, you might have a few fears running through your mind such as, “Everyone is looking at me and laughing,” “What if I hurt myself?” and “How difficult is this going to be?”  At least, those were the thoughts running through my mind the first time I went to the gym after a five year hiatus.

The first thing I discovered is that most people aren’t looking at you because they are looking at themselves in the mirror.  Chances are they are way too busy judging themselves to worry about judging you.  Once you get a little more comfortable in the space you will notice that you too will begin focusing on your own form and challenging yourself to do one more rep that everyone else tends to fade in the background.

Another fear that is common is that you will hurt yourself.  If you have never lifted weights before this is a legitimate concern and it can be addressed pretty easily.  Many gyms will offer an ‘equipment tour’ or one free or discounted personal training session where you can learn how to use some of the machines.  If you have the funds you can also hire a personal trainer to help you get started on your fitness journey.  If you don’t have the extra cash right now, you might have a friend who can show you simple exercises.  Also, God bless the internet.  There are lots of YouTube videos and online fitness magazines that can demonstrate proper form for just about any exercise out there.

Finally, you might be wondering, “How hard will this be?”  I’m going to keep it real here, you’re first day back to the gym after a long break will most likely be a humbling experience.  You might have run a marathon four years ago but find four minutes on a Stair Master leaving you gasping for air.  You might lift a 15 pound dumbbell only to keep putting it down and replacing it with lighter and lighter weights until the only thing you are left holding are the little pink weights.  I get it.  I’ve been there.  Here’s the thing I want you to say aloud:  “Muscle Memory”.

Muscle memory is the best!  It is “your body’s ability to regain previously gained muscle.  Studies show that muscle memory may last up to 15 years, or possibly forever.” (

Let’s say that you never exercised before, so there is nothing for your muscles to remember.  That’s fine too! According to “a new study finds that even if you’ve never worked out before, you still have the same ability as a world-class athlete to build muscle.”

Here are a few tips to help you get through that first trip back to the gym.

  1.  Wear something you feel good in.  If you are worried about your shirt riding up or your sweatpants falling down, or something feels too tight or just makes you feel frumpy, wear something else that makes you feel confident and will let you have a full range of motion to do whatever exercises you want to focus on.
  2. Start by warming up on your favorite cardio machine.  Most gyms, whether in an office, apartment complex or big box will have a treadmill and a stationary bike.  Bigger gyms will also have Stair Masters, elliptical machines and row machines.  Pick the one that you like best and aim for five minutes.  Why pick your favorite?  Because it is more likely you will finish the warm up if you are having fun.  If you find any cardio difficult, slow your pace and/or reduce the resistance.  This is your first day back, so the goal is to get through it.  Take breaks if you need to; just get through it.  It will get easier with consistency.
  3. Have a game plan of which exercises you are going to do.  Are you going to do a full body workout or just focus on your arms or abs the first day? If you have a plan you will feel more in control and also not look like a lost soul wandering in a forest of exercise machines. Here’s a Quick 20 Minute Ab Workout to get you started.
  4. Workout with a friend.  Friends make everything better.  You can hold each other accountable to show up and encourage each other to finish.  You can check each other’s form and catch up on the days events.  Plus, it’s good to have a fitness buddy who is also interested in the same healthy lifestyle you are working towards.
  5. Treat this as your me-time.  Chances are you spend a lot of time and energy taking care of others (your job duties, kids, pets, extended family, charities, etc.).  Gym time is one glorious hour a day out of 24 that you don’t have to think of anyone else’s needs beyond yours.  Leave your phone in your gym bag, put on your favorite tunes and just enjoy reconnecting with yourself and your body.  You’ll be surprised how recharged you will feel when the hour is done.

Have fun, listen to your body and get back to the gym.  You can do it!

Lisa 😉

Want to Train with Me?

Local to Austin/Round Rock/Pflugerville?  Email me –  I offer personal training sessions at a private gym:  $70 session.  That includes a customized suggested meal plan.  Spaces limited!

If you are interested in signing up for my online personal training programs, click here to order now: SLI Method.  Monthly online training is $199/mo. and includes a customized suggested meal plan plus weekly workouts to do on your own based on the equipment available to you.

Lisa Traugott is a personal trainer, Mom’s Choice Award writer, original cast member of FOX/John Cena’s “American Grit” and has a monthly fitness column on She won Ms. Costa Rica Sports Model 2017 and her transformation story was featured in Muscle & Fitness Hers, Good Day Austin, Great Day Houston and Austin Woman Magazine. She blogs at and is passionate about her clients. (c) 2012-2019 Lisa Traugott. All rights reserved. No portion of this blog, including any text, photographs, video, and artwork, may be reproduced or copied without written permission.

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