Where to start at the gym
If you’re new to joining a gym, or you’ve never been sure how to get the most out of your workout, it’s often hard to know where to start. Whilst our team will be around to welcome you and make you feel at ease, we’ve put together a few pointers to help you start your fitness journey at Cottons Hotel & Spa.
Our gym inductions give you a brief tour of the facilities we offer. Covering gym etiquette, how to use the machines, and which areas of our gym are best for what. We know how much a good induction is key to getting you started properly. Feel free to ask our team for any advice that could help you feel at ease when steeping into our gym.
Preparing for your first visit
The best time to go to the gym
One question every new-starter asks is “what’s the best time to go to the gym?”. The answer depends on what is best for you.
Mornings are a great time to fit in a workout, it can reduce stress levels and leave you energized for the rest of the day. However, it all depends on your ‘circadian rhythm.’
A circadian rhythm is your internal clock, causing you to fluctuate between alert and sluggish throughout the day. If you consider yourself a morning person, it should be easy to motivate yourself for an hour in the gym before work. But, if you can’t get anything done before your 9 am coffee, don’t beat yourself up about it — hit the gym on your way home instead.
Avoiding peak times
The other factor to consider when planning your session is when the gym is likely to be busy. If you’re looking for space when working on your strength, it is worth considering avoiding peak times. As our busy periods change depending on the time of year, have a chat to our team when you join to find out when our peak times normally are.
One of the most important parts of a good workout is to properly warm up. Warm-ups are crucial as they prepare your body for the demands of exercise, loosening up the muscles and reducing the risk of injury.
Your first gym session
Where to start
Once you’re warmed up and fully prepared, it’s time to train. But where do you begin? Good workouts aren’t improvised, instead it’s best to plan ahead of time to get the most out of each session.
One of the first things to do when planning your workout is to understand what each piece of gym equipment is designed to do, and how it can help you reach your goals. Your induction does include a brief ‘how-to’ for each machine, but if you’d like more advice, please ask a member of our team.
Here’s a quick breakdown of some machines we have in our gym:
Best for: Losing weight, strengthening your heart and lungs.
Treadmill — A running machine that can provide a great workout to improve your cardiovascular strength. You can adjust incline and pace depending on what type of workout you’re looking for.
Elliptical cross trainer — A dual-action trainer that works both your upper and lower body in tandem. Provides a low-impact way of exercising your hamstrings, quads, glutes, chest, back, triceps and biceps.
Rowing machine — Simulates the movements of a rower’s body. A fantastic full-body workout that puts emphasis on your core and melts away fat.
Exercise bike — A sit-down cardio machine that works your leg muscles. You can increase resistance to strengthen and tone your legs.
Stair climber/ Stepper — Like a treadmill, only with steps! Provides a workout that's easy on your joints but still works every muscle in your legs.
Best for: Building strength and mass, muscle toning.
Chest press — Simulates a barbell or dual-dumbbell press in a more controlled environment. Sitting at a 45-degree incline is a great way to engage your upper chest muscles without feeling overwhelmed.
Chin-up machine — Designed to help you become stronger simply by using your own bodyweight.
Bicep curl — A machine that isolates a workout to just your biceps. Good for toning or developing muscle in your upper arms.
Cable machine — Can be used in multiple ways to work triceps, biceps, chest and more. Doesn’t follow a rigid movement like other machines so it works more of your muscle fibres, which is better for building strength.
Leg press — Builds muscle and tones your legs by making you push with your feet against a selected weight. Targets your quads, hamstrings and glutes — perfect for shaping up that behind!
Best for: Conditioning, targeted stretching, rehabilitation, functional training, freestyle group training.
Kettle bells — Cannonball-shaped weights with handles. Ideal for merging cardio workouts with strength-training to blast away fat while toning your arms and core.
Medicine balls — A weighted ball typically the same size as a basketball. Best used for strength conditioning and rehabilitation exercises.
Using free weights
People who are new to free weights can sometimes make mistakes that lead to injury. However, by following these steps you will avoid injury through bad form whilst building up
Start with bodyweight training
Bodyweight training is a form of training that doesn’t require you to use weights in order to build strength. And building strength, not just muscle, is key.
Bodyweight training is a safer way to prepare your body for weight training than going straight in. Things like squats and push-ups are simple ways to get your muscles used to working against resistance. If you’ve never used free weights before, it’s a good idea to do bodyweight training for your first few sessions.
Go for lighter weights first
The first time you pick up free weights, start at the bottom and work your way up. If you’re training with a barbell, try doing a few reps using just the bar. You’ll be surprised by how heavy they are. If you’re feeling self-conscious, know that experienced deadlifters still warm up by using the bar on its own, so you won’t be the only one.
Remember the etiquette
There are a couple of rules you should follow in the free weights area:
Don’t drop weights — Dropping weights constitutes a safety hazard. Not only that, but it also damages the kit and disturbs other members. Instead, you should slowly lower weights back down to the floor when finishing your sets.
Put weights back — Nothing is more frustrating than getting half-way through your session before finding the next set of dumbbells is missing because someone misplaced them. As soon as you’ve finished with your weights, place them back in the correct place on the rack.
It can be a little bit daunting to use free weights if you're unfamiliar, so don't be afraid to ask one of our team for some pointers on your technique. It's what we're here for!
Supporting your fitness journey
Book a gym class
Attending the gym regularly is a fantastic step towards achieving your fitness goals. We offer a variety of classes so you can get fit whilst being guided by our instructors, it’s also a bit more sociable too!
See our fitness classes