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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Carleton chapter.

You walk into the gym for the first time. Maybe you’re a retired athlete looking to keep up your fitness. Maybe you’re looking for a hobby to help you push through a difficult time. Maybe this is a goal you set for the new year. There is no wrong reason to begin this new lifestyle, everyone started from somewhere.

Upon entering the building, you explore the different areas. You see some people jogging on the treadmills in the cardio section. Next to them are two girls encouraging each other at the squat racks. Then your attention is stolen from a loud crash of metal-on-metal, and you see Hercules himself lifting three times his own weight on the bench press. These people might look like professionals, and you might feel alien to this new environment, but I promise every single one of them has been in your shoes before, and there might even be a few in that very same gym with you.

As someone who grew up working out with sports teams, it was like I forgot all of my experience the second I started exercising on my own. The layout of the building was different from what I was used to, the designs of the machines were unfamiliar, the distribution of the weight on the Olympic plates wasn’t the same, and there were so many bars to choose from, I didn’t know which size I was used to. The biggest challenge I had to overcome was learning to workout alone. I no longer had teammates to be motivated with or a coach to give me pointers. It was all up to me to bring myself to the building and figure out my plan.

So how did I do it? A month or two and a series of trials-and-errors later, I built a routine that worked for me and had me eager for, rather than dreading, the next session.

Once we have ourselves settled in the new environment, it’s time to incorporate going to the gym into our regular schedule so it doesn’t become a failed New Year’s resolution. Think of a time of day during at least few times a week that you can dedicate to an hour at the gym. This could be on your way home right after work or school, during your lunch break or between classes, weekend mornings before getting your day started, and so on. You might have heard of people who wake up at four o’clock in the morning to go before work, but I would recommend working your way up to that rather than trying it off the bat. Motivation can be quickly lost if that’s not something you’re already used to.

Another way to get yourself into the habit of working out regularly is to sign up for classes. While not all gyms offer them, if it’s an option it could be worth considering as a lot of gyms have policies to ensure that their members don’t cancel or skip their bookings without notice. There are usually a variety of classes to choose from, including cardio, Pilates, weights, aerobics, and much more for whatever suits your taste.

So we’re settled in the gym, we have ourselves going often, but there is so much equipment at our disposal. What can we do to get our routine started?

Aside from the basics, such as free-weights, treadmills, ellipticals, squat racks, and so on, most generic gyms have a variety of equipment that target specific muscles or are designed for certain workouts. Using the machines that mimic free-weight workouts are a great way to get familiar with the forms as they offer a sort of ‘spotting’ while making the weight adjustment simple so you can efficiently figure out what feels best. These machines can come in the form of assisted pull-ups, hip thrusts, horizontal chest presses, hack squats (or more commonly known as leg presses), and many more.

If you are really looking to get fancy and your gym has a specialty section for it, doing CrossFit-inspired workouts can make the session more fun while leaving you feeling accomplished. Among other examples, these high-intensity workouts can be done using assault bikes, which create resistance through air, making the peddler work twice as hard, and the sled push, which builds lower body strength while challenging the trainer’s endurance.

Congratulations, you have now established your new hobby! It’s not always a quick or easy transition, but again, everybody has started from scratch. If there’s one thing everyone at the gym has in common, it’s that they are there to achieve their own personal goals, so walking in with confidence is the most important step of them all.

Sofia Colasante is a writer for Her Campus at Carleton. Her articles cover a wide range of topics that come from issues of personal and popular interest. Sofia is a first year student in the School of Journalism and Communication, doing an undergraduate degree in Communication and Media Studies. With an academic focus on math and science throughout her high school career, Sofia used visual art as her creative outlet until an interest in writing began to emerge. This took her academic journey in a new direction and now Sofia enjoys writing to help improve her literary voice while she explores her interests, expresses her opinions, and challenges her views. Sofia credits her Italian family and spending the first nine years of her education learning in French with her appreciation for diversity and her lasting impression of how culture and traditions shape our world. Sports and fitness have always been a big part of Sofia's extracurricular life. She started skiing at the age of two, which led to winters filled with alpine ski racing and summers filled with kayak racing or soccer. Music, books, movies, and baking round out Sofia's leisure activities when she's in the mood for something more laid back. Off campus, Sofia works part time in the food and beverage industry and likes to recharge by relaxing at home with her dog by her side.