Q: Hey Abby. In search of that ever-elusive summer bod, I’ve recently purchased a gym membership. I’ve never really worked out before and have absolutely no idea what to do when I get to the gym. Can you give me some tips to help me feel more comfortable?
Signed, Intimidated at Island
A: Tricky question, Intimidated! The gym is an ecosystem full of unique individuals with complex goals and nuanced training methods. Or so I’ve heard—in all honesty, I’m only really there for the walk-in CTB and the feeling of superiority I get when I tell people that I’m going to the gym. But hey, that’s just me.
Once you get into the gym, the first thing to do is establish some specific goals. Start small; your first goal can be something as simple as confidently taking a selfie in the mirror or working up the courage to ask the biggest guy you can find how much he benches, bro. Assuming you have some idea of what the ideal summer bod means to you, you can start tailoring your workouts to those goals: weight loss, muscle gain, maximum grunting potential, take your pick. You can get a personal trainer if you really feel the need for some expert advice, or you can just solicit advice as you please. Gym goers love playing hard to get, so find the least friendly lifter you can, poke them on their shoulder until they pull out their headphones, and then ask if they can give you a few tips. If they ignore you, just keep trying. You’re being tested, and this is your best chance to show your persistence and commitment.
When it comes to working out itself, the goal is to show, not tell. Nobody likes the guy who walks around telling everybody how many miles he just ran or how much weight he can deadlift. He loves himself enough to make up for it, but seeing as you’re new to the gym, you probably aren’t anywhere close to having that level of self-esteem yet, so you’re gonna have to make other people like you for now.
The best way to do this is by drawing attention to yourself. Grunt and yell a lot when you’re working out, even when you’re just warming up and stretching. Drop your weights as roughly as you can so everyone can hear and feel how hard you’re pushing yourself. Even if you don’t like lifting weights, you can still do this: just take a break from the treadmill every now and then, grab some dumbbells off the nearest rack, and drop them. Your fellow bros will admire the consistency of your characterization.
The truest sign of hard work in the gym is, of course, how much you sweat. There’s a fine line between looking like an impressive, hard worker and looking beet red and on the verge of death, so it’s best to take an artificial approach to this element of training. Get one of those fancy spray bottles and liberally apply water to your face, upper chest, and underarms between sets (if you’re doing any) to get the ideal look. You can apply this to your equipment as well; leaving machines and benches covered in sweat is one of the fastest ways to impress others at the gym, and an artificial approach will get you bro points almost instantly.
Whether you’re just feeling out the fitness world or totally in it for the long haul and want to commit for at least a week, these tips are sure to get you the validation you so desperately seek.