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FitLit: The Gym Survival Guide

It can be intimidating to try something new. Whether it’s trying a group exercise class for the first time or walking into a new gym, when jumping into the unknown, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that everyone’s watching or that everyone knows that it’s your first time in the door. I’ll admit that I’m still a little intimidated when I go into a workout class for the first time or try a new machine at the gym. Heck, I even feel like everyone’s staring at me if for some reason a piece of equipment is out of order and I try unsuccessfully to get it to budge. But for those of you new to the fitness scene who may have similar phobias, have no fear: The Gym Survival Guide is here.

Perfect for beginners, The Gym Survival Guide by Gregg Cook and Fatima d’Almeida-Cook is a comprehensive 246-page manual that gives you the lowdown on gymsfrom what to expect in different classes, equipment and how it works, goal setting, sample gym workouts, fitness myths and truths, and even all-important gym etiquette.

While the book is great for the exercise newbie, there are even some great tips for the gym rats amongst us. A few tidbits I enjoyed:

“Before you go to the gym, create a workout program for the day. Plan out precisely what you want to do. Doing so will make the time spent at the gym much more efficient and productive. It will structure your workouts in general and help you reach your goals more quickly.” (Page 31)

The guide recommends planning down to the detail: Amount of weight, number of reps and how much rest in between sets. I love this tip because there have been times when I’ve gotten to the gym, wandered around aimlessly trying to figure out what exactly I’m in the mood for, put in my time and then left wondering what I really got accomplished. A good tip for all.

The book also details various classes you’re likely to find at gyms around the country, including kickboxing, yoga, spinning, jump rope, heavy hoop and even urban rebounding. The book details the history of the classes as well as what you need to bring, wear and expect in the class. One line that made me laugh because it’s oh-sotrue: “To the inexperienced, taking a step class for the first time will feel somewhat like trying to get directions in Times Square in New York City when you’re a visitor (yes, it’s rough).” (Page 70)

With tips on appropriate dress, sharing equipment and cutting down on the body odor, the etiquette section covers it all. My fave: “Don’t leave the weights you just used scattered all over the gym floor for someone else to trip on or put away. If you’re strong enough to use them, you’re strong enough to carry them back to where they came from.” (Page 225) Amen!

With pictures and a glossary of fitness terms, the book is chock full of great basic information. While the book doesn’t contain information that you can’t obtain by heading to the gym and asking a lot of questions, it definitely takes the mystery out of what could be an intimidating place for the uninitiated.

Interested in reading? Buy it on Amazon! —Erin

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