So I've bought a discounted trial membership to a VERY nice LA Fitness close to my place and I also bought 5 Zumba classes for $20 on Groupon, but both will be expiring soon and I only have a couple more weeks before I have knee surgery (which I may not have mentioned, but will elaborate more on later...). Anyways, I'm desperately trying to get my money's worth of these things and I am LOVING the variety!!
I have really grown to love strength training. Again, with my knee, I've been limited in what I can do for exercise, but there are still a lot of options - especially with the weight training.
Now, I find that it is typical to see more men taking advantage of the free weights and weight machines at the gym than women. Maybe it's an image thing - the idea that that's not for women. Maybe it's a confidence issue - worried about looking silly. Maybe it's a lack of knowledge - how to use the machines, or what exercises to do. I'd like to give a few tips I've found helpful in overcoming some of these obstacles...
1. OBSERVE - while you're warming up on the treadmill/bike/whatever, watch someone use that machine. Look at how they move and how the machine moves so you know what you're headed for.
2. START SMALL - If you don't know what weight to start at, start small. If you want to get real technical you can look up the ACSM guidelines about repetitions, sets, etc. Personally I think the main thing is to push yourself - whether you're doing 3 sets of 20 reps at a low weight or 2 sets of 5-8 reps with a heavier weight - as long as you're feeling the burn you're getting stronger. And don't try a bunch of new things all at once - just add a couple new exercises at a time to what you're already comfortable with.
3. HAVE CONFIDENCE - I know it seems like everyone is just watching eachother at a big gym, but I don't believe that's the case. Sure, people notice eachother, but at least for me I'm too lost in my music or thoughts to really care about what people are doing. And even if everyone was watching me make a fool of myself on a new machine, they can't blame me for trying something different to improve myself. Besides, it won't take long before you get real comfortable several machines.
4. ASK - Ask someone who works there for help. You'll have to pay for a personal trainer, but most likely any employee would be happy to show you how to work a machine or two. Especially if it would prevent any injuries.
I've heard (and I've found it's been true for me) that if you're stuck in an weight-loss rut, try some weight training. It really makes your body stronger, more efficient, and it prevents osteoporosis. Plus you don't get as sweaty or hungry as with cardio :)
Anyways, I hope this helps anyone who feels intimidated by the weights!