5 Tips For Gym Beginners

5 Tips For Gym Beginners

A few simple tips to increase a new weightlifters comfort in the gym.

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Time and time again I hear people scared or nervous to enter a gym for fear they have no idea what they're doing or how to approach a bench. No worries, this process is something that takes time to become comfortable with and requires the patience to figure it out for yourself.

But, here are just a few things that I learned starting off that I wish I would have known beforehand.

1. It's OK to NOT know

Everyone who has ever weight lifted had to start from somewhere. Sometimes people hire coaches to talk them through each machine and each workout, other times people attempt to figure it out for themselves. If you are the latter, know that it's OK to NOT know what you are doing. When I first started, I didn't either. But don't let the fear of not knowing to keep you from starting. Walk into that gym and experiment with each machine or each weight, but be accepting of the fact that you may not know exactly what you're doing. Not everyone does, and even sometimes those that think they know what they're doing, don't. Workout's that were considered "good" for us years ago are being pushed aside now for better methods. So things are always shifting, and what works for one person may not work for you, so don't be scared to just figure it out for yourself.

2. A picture (or video) is worth a thousand words

YouTube Videos, Instagram Videos, or even pictures of how to use machines worked wonderfully for me when I was first starting out. If I saw a machine was open in the gym, I would walk over to it, look at the name, and specifically google how to use that machine. Watch, and mimic. Don't be nervous to do so, it's better to take the time to do it right than do it wrong and injure yourself. Be patient.

3. My Rep-Weight Rule

So this is something that I tell those people who are unsure of what weight to use when they first start off weight lifting. When I started, and even still to this day, when I am not sure how much weight I will be able to handle, I pick up my absolute lowest weight. For curls and upper body that's a 10-pound free weight, or for squats or all leg movements, it's 40 pounds. If I can do the workout I'm supposed to be doing for 15-20 reps with these weights, the weights are too light. If I'm using any weight above 15, I always say that if I can do the number of reps describing the weight I'm holding, the weight is too light. So, 15 reps with a 15? Up the weight. I will typically go through this process 2-3 times at the very beginning of my workout, depending on the body part I'm working. If I know that at the start of my workout I was curling 20's for 15 reps (WITH PROPER FORM), then no weight I use for that day should drop below a 20. This makes me hold myself accountable and ensures I'm using the proper weight for my body.

4. The Water Bottle Distraction

This is a habit of mine when I'm at the gym and I become self-conscious, feeling like I'm being watched or that people are judging me or my technique. (Yes, even after a year this still happens.) Anytime I go to the gym I bring a water bottle with me, If I notice that at any point I'm thinking more about what people are thinking of me instead of focusing on my workout, I sit or stand, and take a minute to look down at my water bottle. I slowly open it up and take casual sips in between breathing in and breathing out. Breathe in, breathe out, sip. I do this until I calm down and can focus on my workout and what I'm trying to achieve. Also, having the water bottle give my hands something to do and my mind a distraction that isn't just staring at my phone, which actually makes me more anxious, and inevitably distracts me for longer than I always hope.

5. To Rest or Not To Rest, That is the Question

I superset everything. What does that mean? I either do not rest between each of my workouts or if I do, the rest is less than 30 seconds. So if I'm doing lunges, I do my 15 reps on each leg and then move on to my next exercise, which is normally 15 reps of weighted squats. After that, I take a quick 30-second break and begin the set again with lunges. Why? Because this works for me. You may need to do a few reps then wait a minute or two to let your muscles relax before doing your next set. I can't do so, because I find that my level of motivation disappears the longer I wait, and who has time for a four-hour workout? But if you need to rest, rest. Just make sure you're not using resting as an excuse to not do what needs to be done.

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ASU Students Push For A Healthier Dining Hall To Counter 'Freshman 15' Fears

The freshman 15 is an avoidable curse, but many students will continue to follow into its trap.

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Arizona State University students are pushing for change within the downtown Phoenix dining hall as they strive to avoid the infamous freshman 15.

The downtown Phoenix campus offers fewer dining options than the Tempe campus and has a less appetizing dining hall. The freshman 15 is a common scare among students living in the dorms, who are often freshman.

The freshman 15 is defined as a student who gains 15 pounds or more in their first year of college. Studies prove the average freshman does not exercise the right amount, is sleep deprived, has a poor diet, increases their stress level, alcohol consumption, and fatty food intake, which is most likely causing their weight gain.

Lauren Hernandez

Daniella Rudoy, a journalism major and fitness instructor at the SDFC, relived her freshman year as she provided tips for incoming freshman.

"There are a lot of workouts you can do in your dorm room as long as you have access to YouTube or a floor. You can go on a run, a walk, or do exercises that do not require equipment," Rudoy said in support of college fitness.

Rudoy said that mental health, fitness, and nutrition all correlate with one another.

"I follow the saying abs are made in the kitchen. So if you are working out day and night, but eating a giant pizza and chicken wings with a pack of beer when you come home you aren't doing yourself much good," Rudoy said.

Lauren Hernandez

The main cause for weight gain is increased alcohol consumption. 80 percent of college students drink and this includes binge-drinking, which is unhealthy for many reasons.

Students who do not drink are most likely gaining weight because of their exposure to an all-you-can-eat dining hall. The downtown Phoenix campus offers a salad bar as their only consistent healthy option for students, therefore students are left eating hamburgers, fries, and pizza.

"I haven't been to the dining hall this semester. Last semester, I went because I had no other options. I am a vegetarian and the dining hall is not accommodating to those with allergies or food restrictions. I find it very difficult to find vegetarian options," Lexi Varrato, a journalism major said.

Lauren Hernandez

Varrato explained that she believes the freshman 15 is "100% real" and that incoming freshmen should research their meal plans and ask their school how their dietary restrictions will be accommodated before purchasing a non-refundable meal plan.

Megan Tretter, a nursing major at Seattle University emphasized that not every dining hall is like ASU's and that the freshman 15 is "definitely not a problem" at her school.

"I always eat healthy at my dining hall. There are a lot of good and healthy options at Seattle University. I usually go to the smoothie line in the morning, have a salad for lunch, and make myself an acai bowl after work with avocado toast in our floor's kitchen," Tretter said in support of her school's strive for healthy options.

College students across the United States have healthier dining options than ASU, but many colleges still face the same problems that students here are facing.

Tara Shultz, a journalism major at ASU believes she has avoided the "very real" freshman 15 by living at home.

"I believe the freshman 15 targets dorm residence and first-year students who do not live at home as they do not have their parents as a guide and are forced to eat at a dining hall that only serves fatty foods," Shultz emphasized.

Lauren Hernandez

The downtown Phoenix campus offers students access to the SDFC, YMCA, and Taylor Place gym, where students can take group fitness classes, run on a track, play basketball, or swim. Alternative options for students are purchasing a membership at Orangetheory or EOS Fitness.

Most students agreed with journalism major Vanessa Gonzalez that they have little time to work out due to their workload, but many students like Varrato, Tretter, and Rudoy explained that they try to work out every day as it is a stress reliever and it enriches their mental health.

Steve Fiorentino, the owner of Powered Up Nutrition encourages college students to learn what they are putting in their bodies.

"I think it starts with nutrition. Students believe they can outwork a bad diet and I believe that is their number one mistake. My advice is to stop eating fast foods and start eating whole and healthy foods along with supplements," Fiorentino stated.

The freshman 15 is an avoidable curse, but many students will continue to follow into its trap. The campus dining hall is not always the reason to blame as students have the option to decrease their meal plans, become active, and make healthy choices!

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I Reached My Weight Loss Goal, And You Can, Too

It's only impossible if you think it is.

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Would you believe I used to be 235 lbs? Me neither. Today is a special occasion for me because I have reached my goal of 160 lbs. I can now begin my next goal to 155 and then start building muscle. However, just because I was able to shed all that weight does not mean you can't do it too. Losing weight is difficult, but definitely not impossible and I dare anyone that is stuck in a rut in weight loss to go beyond their limits in exercising. So let's see my journey of how I got here and how anyone else can be this successful too.

Discipline and moderation is the main thing you need to practice. When I was 235 lbs, I was not eating the right foods. I found myself stuffing my face with junk food and high carb foods. When you don't use the short term energy, it gets stored as body fat. So I began to cut down on processed sugars and carbs and replaced it with vegetables. They are great craving killers and have helped eliminate the cravings for junk food.

It also doesn't help that I was also doing drugs. Being a former smoker and drinker, I can say that smoking cigarettes is the final nail in the coffin to bad health. You can be the most active person but alcohol and drugs will hold you back from losing weight. It gives you a ton of energy that is limited and will give you a crash when it's all used up. With therapeutic help for tobacco and alcohol and drug abuse, I will not even sniff a cigarette anymore.

Eating and drinking at night and quitting drugs is a great first start, but that's not the only way to shed fat.

Making a habit of working out and going to the gym on a consistent basis is the next most important thing you can do to lose weight. When I was dieting, I was strictly just dieting and not going to the gym. Then I started going to the gym. I started off just going twice a week and got stuck in a rut with weight loss. Then, two days became three, three became four, and now I go to the gym a bare minimum of five days a week. If I know I can't go to the gym one day, I double up the next day.

As far as the time at the gym goes, try to shoot for at least an hour. You can go to the gym for just a half hour and work your ass off and still get great results. More time in the gym does not equal better results.

But doing the same workout every day is the formula for a plateau. I alternate every day. One day, I lift weights and then the next day, I do cardio. When you do cardio the next day and your muscles are recovering from the previous day, they're burning fat and calories from your body. Doing cardio the next day burns off any extra fat on your body.

Working out makes or breaks your weight loss journey, but I saved the best for last when it comes to weight loss...liquid consumption.

Liquid consumption is last on here because honestly, there are not a lot of healthy drinks out there for you, but the ones that are healthy will skyrocket your results. The best thing you can drink is obviously water. Your body is 65, 70, don't know the exact number, sometimes pushing 80% water. Give your body what it needs and just abuse yourself with water daily.

If you have cravings, drinking a lot of water will get rid of those cravings because it fills your stomach up and flushes the unhealthy toxins out of your body. When I first started drinking a minimum of 10 cups of water a day, I lost 15 lbs because that's how much alcohol and pop I was drinking and all the water flushed it out. Some drinks you want to stay away from when trying to lose weight pop, alcohol, and fruit juices obviously but believe it or not, coffee is another one. The caffeine gives you limited energy and when it runs out, you have that crash where you are weak.

You can lose weight drinking black coffee, but I recommend staying away from it because you can still get caffeine cravings and what else has caffeine? Pop and alcohol. You will have a bunch more natural energy drinking water, eating the right foods, and getting the right amount of sleep. Give your body what it needs.

Weight loss is a time-consuming process that involves a hell of a lot of pain and anger and sweat and tears, but you will thank yourself later. People may call 5'7" 160 too skinny, but I say it's not enough. You know when I say it's enough? When I say it's enough.

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