What to Expect Your First Day at the Gym

First time at the gym? We've all been there! Firsts can be intimidating, but we don't want you to feel that way when you enter one of our Sacramento gyms.  Below are some common questions new gym members have, and our answers for them.  Here's what you can expect, so you can enter the gym with confidence!

What should I bring to the gym?

Great question!  The most important thing to bring is yourself, along with a willingness to try new things.  Make sure you dress in clothes that you can move in comfortably, that wick moisture, and that won’t get tangled in equipment.  Designer active wear is not required!  You probably have items in your closet already that will work just fine. If you want to use your new gym membership as an excuse to shop, we won't stop you--check out our wide selection of active wear in our clubs or our online retail store.

Shoes aren't just a fashion statement at the gym.  You want to make sure your footwear offers safety and stability. Check out some great tips for finding good shoes here.  For your safety, we do require closed-toed shoes when you are on the workout floor, using cardio machines, weight-machines, free weights, or other equipment.  

Other things you can bring to add to your comfort/enjoyment are headphones (bring your own music or plug into the monitors we have on many of our machines), a water bottle (gotta stay hydrated! You can always refill at our fountains), and a small towel if you’d like to have one handy for sweat.  If you’ll be using the locker room for changing, feel free to bring what you’ll need for showering and personal hygiene needs. 

Many of our clubs have electronic padlocks, but you can bring your own lock if you aren't sure yet what your club has.  Belts/fanny packs like these are worn by many members, they are super handy for working out with anything you don't want to  leave in a locker. gym-bag-door-POST-1

Will I be the only one at the gym who is out of shape?

At California Family Fitness, we strive to promote a friendly, judgement-free environment in each of our gyms. You will quickly discover that we have people from all walks of life and all shapes, sizes, and ages that enjoy membership at Cal Fit. The majority of our members recognize and respect how much courage is required when you take the first steps of a fitness journey.  Read some of the success stories on our blog, which will give you a better picture of how many people started out in similar spaces.  Members Scotia, Jean, Sean, and Jeanette are good examples of just how many different goals and destinations there are for our members.

Everyone has to start somewhere!  We often see members helping one another out on the gym floor or in class. 

I've made it to the gym, now what?

We understand that it can be overwhelming to walk into a gym and see so many options!  You might feel some confusion about where to start. For many members, taking a group fitness class is sometimes one of the best ways to start feeling comfortable at the gym. Our classes are filled with members of all ages, sizes, and fitness levels.  Instructors are happy to welcome new class members. In fact, they really appreciate it when first timers introduce themselves before class begins, so that they are able to offer modifications for you during the workout. Some popular classes for beginners are: Gentle Yoga, Group Strength Training, Mixed Levels Yoga, Rise & Shine Yoga, and Zumba.  You can use the Cal Fit mobile app to check class schedules, or check your club's schedule of classes here.Friends-Dancing

I'm worried that I won't know how to use the equipment properly or safely.

When it comes to equipment, there are helpful instruction sheets on many of our machines.  Some of them even include QR codes, so that you can easily pull up video demonstrations on your cell phone.  We also have several videos like this one available on our Cal Fit YouTube Channel, which show you how to properly use some of our equipment. 

The cardio area has some pieces of equipment that are pretty easy to use without a demonstration, like the stationary bike, treadmill, or elliptical machine.  One good way to start for the first time is to press the “Quick Start” button (if available) on the machine.  Quick start doesn’t mean the machine will fire up and take off, it just means it will turn on and guide you to determine the speed and resistance best for you.  It’s okay to start slow!  We want you to avoid injury.

Cal Fit contracted memberships include a complimentary personal training session.  The personal trainer can show you how to properly use some pieces of equipment during this time. Personal training sessions are a great way to make sure you are using proper form and getting the most out of your workouts.  See the fitness manager at your club to schedule a session.

How do classes work? Do I just show up or do I have to sign up in advance? 

Use our gym finder page to find the location you'll be using. On the location page, click on the class schedule to view all the classes being offered at your location on any given day.  You can also download the Cal Fit app, which offers easy access to class schedules and lets you reserve a spot in class.  Reservations open at 5 AM each day (you must reserve the day of), and to keep your reservation you need to check in at the kiosk next to the classroom at least 10 minutes prior to class start time.  (Unclaimed spots are available first come-first serve during the last 10 minutes before class).  Some classes, times, and locations fill faster than others, so we recommend reserving your spot in class.

Most group fitness classes on our schedule are included in your membership, so there is no extra cost to take them.  The exceptions are Body Fit classes.  These classes are smaller and led by personal trainers, so they can tailor each workout to meet your needs.  Body Fit is a great way to start building a supportive community of gym friends.  Your first Body Fit class is free.

Since I don't know my way around the gym, I'm worried that I'll accidentally do something wrong.

We have a great resource for you!  You can read up on our gym rules & etiquette suggestions here.  These guidelines will help you navigate pretty much all areas of the gym with ease.

New members often have questions about whether or not machines have to be used in a specific order or if there are time limits on the equipment. Our equipment doesn’t need to be used in any specific order, although some members do have their own preferred order of use.  You can occupy a machine for as long as you are actively using it.  99% of the complaints we get about equipment use are due to members sitting on the equipment while they check their phones.  As long as you step away from equipment when you use your phone, you’ll be fine!  Another important tip is to disinfect the equipment you’ve touched before you walk away, using the paper towels and spray we provide.  That's the real way to be a gym hero!

Who should I talk to if I have questions while I'm at the gym?

A good rule of thumb is to look around for a staff member, and if you don’t see one, go to the front desk and let them know you have a question.  If they can’t help you, they’ll be able to page someone who can.gym-check-in

If you have questions about equipment use, many of those can be answered during your complimentary training session.  Or, you can always ask the fitness manager on staff. Ask to speak with the operations manager on staff if you have questions about class schedules, your membership, or other questions about gym use.

I heard that I should be mindful of what I eat before and after my workout.  

15038_BLG_TMB_CleanEatingSnacksOn the Cal Fit blog, we have offer great nutrition tips and recipes!  Check out this recipe for Chocolate Power Bites, a perfect snack for before or after a workout.  You can watch a helpful video with more workout nutrition advice here.

We hope this information will help you feel more comfortable and confident when you visit the club for the first time.  Need some fun incentives for achieving your wellness goals?  Join our Win the Week Challenge. Registration is open from October 14-30, and the Challenge begins November 4.