How to Get Fit in the Gym

Ever notice how most people in a gym aren’t really working out? Some are strolling on the treadmill reading a book. Others are chatting with their buddies while waiting to do another set - and hogging the machine of course. And how is it that most people in the gym look like they don’t work out or look the same no matter how long they’ve been going to the gym? There must be a better way. Here’s a start…


  1. Image titled Get Fit in the Gym Step 1
    Walk in the door (the hardest part). No matter how tired you are, make two or three days a week mandatory in the gym. When you go doesn't matter - just do it before you get home in the evening. You need to start with a commitment. And a first step.
  2. Image titled Get Fit in the Gym Step 2
    Warm up. Five to ten minutes on the elliptical if you can.
  3. Image titled Get Fit in the Gym Step 3
    Do less. Forget about three sets (unless you really are a professional athlete). One set of ten to twenty or so is enough. There does need to be enough weight to tire the muscle without straining. For most of us less really is more. If a workout is not as tedious, it'll be easier to do on a regular basis. The concept in fitness circles is called supersets - and they really are.
  4. Image titled Get Fit in the Gym Step 4
    Limit yourself to six to nine machines and twenty to thirty minutes. DON'T rest between machines. Use machines rather than free weights, especially when getting started. They're designed to keep you in proper form.
  5. Image titled Get Fit in the Gym Step 5
    Rotate among upper body, core (mid-section) and legs.
  6. Image titled Get Fit in the Gym Step 6
    Work major muscle groups. Curls are not needed. Arms are worked indirectly by chest, back or shoulder exercises. The more slowly that you move the weight, the better. If you rush, inertia takes over and you're not working the muscle over its full range. Even slower on the negative.
  7. Image titled Get Fit in the Gym Step 7
    Hop on the elliptical for 10 to 20 minutes and optionally switch to the treadmill for another 5 to 20. Go fast enough to sweat. No reading is allowed (it slows you down). Once you've settled into a routine, intersperse with 1 or 2 minute intense segments (interval training), where you push your heart rate an extra 10 or 20 BPM. Cool down for a few minutes. Stretch at the end of your workout. If you're up for more cardio, go for it but build up slowly.
  8. Image titled Get Fit in the Gym Step 8
    Reward yourself with a few minutes in the pool, steam room or sauna.
  9. Image titled Get Fit in the Gym Step 9
    While at home, it is important to eat a nutritionally sound diet. Eat more veggies and fruit and fewer dense foods, especially those that are high in fat. Skip the protein bars or drinks. Protein deficiency is rare in the US. Only professional athletes and some senior citizens regularly need supplemental protein.
  10. Image titled Get Fit in the Gym Step 10
    On days you skip the gym, do something else. Even if it's just a 10 minute walk (or two). Use the stairs instead of the elevator.


  • Muscle is more dense than fat, so don't be overly concerned with the scale, focus more on the measuring tape.
  • Be patient and add weights and time gradually. Persistence is the key.
  • Don't hold your breath. This raises blood pressure unnecessarily.
  • Strive for a positive mental attitude and focus on your goals. If you fall off the wagon, just hop back on.
  • Try to bring or find a workout buddy.
  • Breathe out as you exert yourself. For example, when performing a press, exhale when pushing away and inhale when bringing the weight toward you.
  • If you feel you are straining, use less weight. If it seems too easy stop after 4 reps then add one weight. Remember, if you don't feel resistance you're not accomplishing much. Women need not fear bulking up from weights. On the contrary, better muscle tone is slimming.
  • Please note: this is not a routine for professional athletes or gym rats. This is fitness for the rest of us. It's better to do a one hour workout several times a week and maintain balance in your life than to feel obligated to spend several hours once in a while.
  • Vary your routine a bit to maintain interest. Engage in other activities (cross training) e.g., swimming, tennis, etc.
  • Past age 40 some supplements are advisable in moderation. If you're healthy, more than a multivitamin but not a drawer full. Powders are generally a better value than individual capsules. The jury will always be out on this issue. So who really eats a perfect diet?
  • Work hard and stick to it and don't give up then you will gain! Whenever you are being lazy just think how healthy and fit you want to be and get up off that sofa and go and do some exercise! Go on do it! You will feel great afterwards! And also remember no pain, no gain!


  • Especially when starting out, emphasize walking on the treadmill or riding the bike or elliptical.
  • Ask for instruction on proper machine use and form when trying something new.
  • If you have a weight or other health issue, see a doctor before starting a fitness regime. Be patient to avoid injury. Don't give up. Set short term goals that are attainable.
  • Use antiseptic spray on machines before and after use. Bring your own if necessary.
  • Clarification is appreciated but please don't change the thrust of this alternative approach. Put comments and questions in the discussion areas.

Things You'll Need

  • Health club/gym membership. There are often free passes or trial memberships to get you started.
  • Shorts or sweats
  • Music player (for sanity)
  • Water bottle
  • Sneakers with good tread and support
  • Workout towel (to wipe down your machine after use, please!)
  • Optional: a pulse monitor

Article Info

Categories: Gym