Gym Lessons Learned


My gym experience is relatively limited. And by relatively I mean the only gym I frequented was the one located on my university’s campus. Where I grew up I’d need to drive 20 minutes to even get to the gym and that was just not happening. Now that I’m trying to juggle a “big girl” job, grad classes at night, and somehow keep dishes from piling up in the sink my waistline has expanded to a point that I feel like a squishy plush-doll version of me. Therefore, to the gym it is. Here are some things I’ve picked up on my adventures.

All gyms are not created equal.

Picking the right gym is essential. I cannot emphasize this enough. Some questions to ask:

Is this in my budget? If you can’t afford to eat, going to the gym will be pointless because you will either starve or be forced to eat off the $1, which is a bajillion calorie diet. The Y has some great equipment. It may not have fancy glass stall shower doors with prima donna style locker rooms, but it will do the job. Live realistically.

Can you touch things? This sounds weird, but seriously ask yourself if a gym is gross. Note that being old does not equal gross, but you don’t want broken down equipment. Patrons are responsible for wiping down equipment after usage- do people do this? Observe. Do a walk through. Also, look at the showers. Don’t just glance at them and avoid thinking about them. Is there mold? Are people avidly avoiding the area like it’s radioactive?

Will you actually go? Distance is everything, people. Think about when you actually have time to go to the gym. Is it before work, after class, or in the evening? Choose a gym close to your location. Mine is between work and class, which is coincidentally when I normally go. It means I’m going right by it and have no excuse. The guilt will make you go.

At first, everything about showering is awkward.


The first few times you go to the gym and shower you will probably forget something. Or maybe I’m just a forgetful person who is unaccustomed to showering in various locations.

Can I strip here? But actually. I’ve been to band camp, sleep-away camp, and lived in a sorority house. There are different rules for where you can or cannot strip based upon sensitivities.  Subtly observe where people are changing. Are they changing in the actual showers? Stripping in the middle of the locker room? Different gyms have different cultures. You may not get it right the first time, but try and pick up on the norm. Soon enough you’ll be a regular and feel comfortable with the new routine.

Do I have shower shoes? These are important. They protect you and they also protect other people from you. I forgot shower shoes after a workout and once had to parade around in my socks. You know what’s uncomfortable? Soaked, soapy socks. Invest. They’re all of $5 because you just need something plastic that can be slipped on and off. Plastic is a key word here. Don’t get some cushy material because it’s important that these shoes dry quickly. Otherwise, you have moldy, smelly shoes and that defeats the purpose of showering altogether.

Did this towel shrink? No, it did not. My gym has towel service. It says so on their website (this is a great thing to check for, by the way). It’s nice because I don’t have to schlep a towel back and forth. I also don’t have to worry about it being soggy and gross in my gym bag. On the other hand, it is ridiculously tiny. I have yet to see a gym towel that successfully covers me appropriately (although I dream that I will one day be “gym-towel tiny”). If you’re uncomfortable with being in an itsy bitsy teeny weeny towel, you may want to bring your own.

I hope the things I’ve learned on my gym adventures will serve you well, but I’m sure I missed some. What gym lessons have you learned?


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