Tuesday, January 25, 2011

It's Okay to be a Noob

Things are crazy at the gym right now.  Why?  Well, January and February tend to be the most crowded times of the year.  Part of the crowd is due to the lousy weather.  I don't know a lot of people that want to go for a run when its -20 degrees.  But, most of the crowd is composed of 'Resolutionists'.  You know what I'm talking about.  It's the folks that decided on New Years Day that they were finally going to get in shape this year (and this time, they meant it).

That's cool though.  I'm not going to get mad at someone that is trying to turn things around and get fit.  Good for them.  However, it is kinda funny for those of us who spend a reasonable amount of time in the gym 12 months out of the year.  The noobs (noobs stands for 'newbies', so just relax Mom, it's not a dirty word) tend to stick out like a sore thumb.

Maybe you're one of them.  Maybe you're a noob.  Maybe this is your year to change up your lifestyle and finally drop some weight.   But, maybe you don't want to stick out like a sore thumb.  I don't blame you.  Sticking out from the crowd offends my reserved Midwestern sensibilities. Well, if all you want to do is blend in and 'get your sweat on' then this post is for you.

How NOT to be a Noob at the gym.

Untuck that shirt Gramps
This is mostly directed at you middle-aged men.  Nothing screams 'I'm new here!' like a nice tucked-in cotton t-shirt and shorts pulled up to your armpits.  Save that look for trips to the beach where you can wear that outfit with your black socks and sandals.  Of course, there are a few exceptions.  For example, if you're going into a yoga class, then tuck away.  I don't want to be in the middle of a head-stand only to have my shirt fall and expose my Buddha-belly.

Don't be a filthy pig
I sweat.  I sweat a lot.  It only takes about 10 minutes of running and I look like I just showered in my clothes.  That sweat tends to splash all over the equipment and just plain funk up the place.  Wipe up your filth after your done with the machines.  Most gyms will have some paper towels and disinfectant.  Use them.  Seriously.

Don't forget to stretch
I cannot emphasize this enough.  I've seen folks huffing and puffing their way through a long treadmill workout, only to finish their run, hop off and head straight to the locker room.  Want to know why you have problems walking down stairs the next day?  Well, you're legs are probably a little cranky because they haven't been stretched.  It's best to stretch warm muscles.  For treadmill days, I like to run for about 10 minutes and then stretch for another 10-15 minutes before starting the main workout.  After the workout, a little light stretching is in order - just enough to keep the muscles loose.

Stay Hydrated
Ya gotta keep the fluids flowing.  Sure, if you don't drink any water you'll initially lose quite a few pounds.  Shoot.  You could lose 5-10 pounds during a long run. Don't mistake this for genuine weight loss.  Like I posted a few weeks ago, you aren't actually getting fit.  Congratulations - you're dehydrated.  What's a good barometer to determine if you're dehydrated?  It's all about the pee.  If yours is near-clear to clear, then you're in good shape.  If it looks like beef stock, it's time to up the fluid intake. 

Pace yourself
This goes right along with stretching.  It's cool to start slow.  We all have to start somewhere.  In fact, if your main goal is losing weight, it's actually more beneficial to do a longer workout at a somewhat slower pace than something high-intensity but short.  The same thing goes for weights.  Sure, we all want to impress onlookers by lifting that giant stack of metal plates, but starting at a weight that is beyond your own ability is an invitation for injury, and just plain dangerous.

You're not there to get noticed
I know.  This is a tough one.  But there's a time and a place to draw attention to yourself.  As much as you may think so, grunting and screaming your way through a bench press set like you're passing a kidney stone isn't as cool as it sounds.  Repeatedly flexing your man-boobs in front of the mirror is just plain gross.  This goes for you too ladies.  You're not fooling anyone when you do your makeup BEFORE your workout and proceed to push your ta-tas up to your chin.  Exercise a little subtlety.  If you guys and girls REALLY want to get noticed, then sign up for a 5K or a sprint tri.  Then, you can cross the finish line to loud cheers and wave your arms like an orangutan until they go numb. 

Well, that should get you started.  The best advice I can give a noob is to stick with it.  Remember why you're there.  It's called a workout for a reason.  Get to work.  Find a routine that works for you and keep at it.  Mix things up a little to keep from getting bored and be patient.  You may not be ready for a new wardrobe after only a few weeks, or even a few months, but you'll get there.  Pretty soon, YOU'LL be the one giving the noobs advice.

Oh, and there are only a few days left to vote in my poll.  Get at it. 

Later gators.

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