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Let’s start with the basics….

In this series of articles, I have tried to explain to those of you who are just starting out on your gym adventure the pitfalls to avoid. Now, with your gym membership in hand, it’s time to explore the world of shiny machines and heavy objects that adorn your gym.

No doubt, you get a tour with a trainer who shows you how each of these contraptions works, and what is their purpose? You try to remember as much as possible before being unleashed to wreak havoc on your own.

There seems to be a lot of folk admiring themselves in the multitude of mirrors. You feel slightly self-conscious as you settle down on a lat machine, that some buff dude has just vacated. As you reach up and grasp the bar, you quickly realize it appears to be stuck, as it’s not moving an inch.

Odd you think, it most likely needs fixing, then you remember you need to move the peg out of the stack to a level that is more in keeping with you as a novice. Lesson learnt, don’t follow the buff guy around the gym, as he’s maxing out on all the equipment!

Four sets, eight to ten reps, this feels good. Concentrate on form, yeah the mirrors do help, you can see the muscles contracting. You could get used to this, machine completed, where is the buff guy? No problem, he’s moved onto the free weights and grunting a lot. 

You move on to tricep push downs, remember what the trainer said about good form on this machine to protect your elbows. You select the top weight, Wow, that easy, maybe I am a lot stronger than I think. The weight you have chosen makes the last few repetitions a struggle to complete.

It must be time for a drink of water, this is exhausting! You leisurely stroll over to the water fountain and smile casually at the other lycra-clad members. They all smile back, they seem like a friendly lot of folk.

Hydration is important, it’s hot, and you are sweating, and you have only just started. You eye up the bench press, luckily for you, the buff guy is on the other side of the gym, and it’s free. You casually saunter over to it and run your fingers over the steel bar. Before placing a couple of ten-pound plates on either side. You assume the position, make sure your hands are spaced apart, and you take a deep breath before pushing up with all your might.

It shoots up with ease, which was good, now for the hard part, lowering it slowly down to mid-chest. This is getting more difficult, but you are in control, mind over matter, you think as you drive the bar back upwards. One rep completed, nine more to go. A fellow newbie gym member appears overhead and asks if you need him to spot for you?

You nod, and he smiles knowing down at you, he’s been there and done that. He steadies the bar on your fourth set, your arms are beginning to shake and the tightness in your pectoral muscles is acute. He helps you reload the bar onto the stands, and you sit up.

A friendship is born in steel and effort, determination and motivation. Our journey has begun, and we are still on the basics.