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What Gym Equipment Is Best for Beginners

by Harley Miller

As a girly who spends a lot of time at the gym, I remember vividly when I first started and what that meant for me and my body.

The gym is a place where you can feel motivated by your peers. It’s best to go alone, but I understand that sometimes you want someone with you in case you’re bench pressing or doing some other exercise that requires assistance. Let me preface this article by giving my take on some of the more popular gyms around today.


LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION

Planet Fitness – This is a decent gym because it’s usually clean and affordable. However, the thought of giving out my bank account number and routing number is always going to be a hard no for me. When the CEO was asked why they do this, his response was that this method guarantees that they get paid.


They keep the cost low because it’s not unusual for low-income members to simply overlook a fee as low as $10 or $20 per month. My guess is that now, since they’re looking to raise their fees, they will be adding the option to use a debit or credit card, considering their target demographic may change. But for a beginner, it's the one I recommend.


Crunch Fitness – I don’t know much about this gym, but I do know that they need a better PR team and more marketing. They may as well not exist. It’s like Blink Fitness but for bodybuilders.


Blink Fitness – I enjoy this gym. It's the one I’m going to now because it’s pretty inexpensive and they allow you to use a debit or credit card, unlike Planet Fitness. However, this gym is growing in popularity due to its low cost and various payment options, so it can get quite crowded. As a beginner, I don’t recommend this gym because it’s quite small, and you can easily feel intimidated when you walk in unsure of yourself or what to do and how you want your workout to go. Be mindful, however, that this is an option later on down the line.


24 Hour Fitness – What a rip-off! This gym is terrible for many reasons. I’ve been to two of their locations, and it’s always something—but mainly, they have issues with cleanliness. The Pelham, NY location is absolutely filthy, the machines hardly ever work, the fans do not work, the workout rooms are empty, and they’ve removed the weights from there and put them into another workout room that’s only used for personal training. So, unless you’re paying for one of their inexperienced personal trainers, you don’t have access to the extra weights.


Also, speaking of personal trainers, the ones there are bad! They do not know how to ease someone into an exercise routine, especially a newbie, and even when you schedule a session with them, they don’t show up. The staff are all pretty much in love with each other, I assume, because that’s what they spend their time doing—flirting and chatting while the locker rooms go uncleaned and the machines are slowly lifting from the floors. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s an accident there one day. Just avoid it. Oh, and here’s the kicker: they’ve raised their monthly membership price from $24.99 to $44.99 in one year. I mean, it’s just laughable.


LA Fitness – This gym is a girl’s dream—it’s clean, affordable, the staff are usually nice, and more importantly, they have larger locations, so you don’t feel like you’re working out on top of the person next to you (figuratively speaking, of course!). I think as you’re building your workout routine and confidence in the gym, and need to transition, this is the place to go. Also, they have some great amenities.


Level Fitness – Where do I even start? This gym is so elitist, it’s hysterical. They have levels to their plans, I guess, hence the name, but it’s so rude for guests. There are rooms that you cannot access unless you have a key fob and pay something like $80 a month or more. The room is right on the main floor, so as people are walking in, they can see how rich those people are and feel oh so great about themselves for only being able to afford the basic package—I hope you can sense my sarcasm.


It’s pretty much all the rooms—the hot stone room, massage room, tennis court, basketball court. You have access to nothing unless you’re on the higher-level plans. So, with the basic package, you’re stuck on the main floor getting your stretches in, basically on display, or you can use one of their brightly colored rooms upstairs that’s only available if there isn’t a class. As a beginner, this is a heavy no-no. Going to the gym is already scary enough, and being made to feel bad about not having the funds to splurge on higher amenities is not going to make you feel good either.


Equinox – I know this is more like a luxury gym, so I won’t bash it too much. I think it’s starting to get a bit more PR, which is good. As a beginner, I wouldn’t recommend it simply because it’s obviously going to be filled with people who are regulars at the gym and quite confident in themselves to be splurging that much on a membership. You want to go where you fit in at the moment, not where you’re going to stand out.


EXERCISES

When it comes to equipment, all gyms are pretty much the same, so you don’t have to overthink the process. As a beginner, you want to center your focus on cardio, abs, and glutes. I know the TikTok fitness girlies like to share their before and after or just post some sad, pitiful workout and tell you to go in there, but honey, if you’re not sweating, you’re not doing enough.


TREADMILL – Incline 15, speed 2.5, 1 hour (weeks 1 & 2); Incline 15, speed 2.5 to 3.0, 1 hour (weeks 3 & 4); Incline 15, speed 3.0-3.2, 1 hour (weeks 4 & 5); and by week 6, incline 15, speed 3.2-3.5, 1 hour, and stay there for a few months.


ABS – You can use any machine for this, but for weights, you want to stay between 50 lbs and 70 lbs. Do as many reps as you can handle for the first few weeks to build muscle and then go from there. Please be sure to listen to your body.


ELLIPTICAL – If you find that the treadmill just isn’t for you, then I suggest the elliptical. When you start, you can do resistance 16, speed (stay above 3.0), 1 hour. Weeks 2 & 3, consider raising the resistance to 18, and then by weeks 4 & 5, you can go up to 19. By week 6, you should be at 20 or more. The more resistance, the better. Your body is going to feel the changes, and you’ll notice that you burn more calories this way. Do not just go on the machine and let it flap around; take control, lol.


GLUTES (Kickback Machine) – Squats are great, but as a beginner, you want to stick with machines until you build muscle to do them freely. I’ve seen many trainers just toss newbies onto the mat with a resistance band around their legs or thighs and have them do goblet squats, lunges, single-leg squats, and pulse squats. Take it from me, those are the quickest way to tear tissue and have you in bed for days, unable to walk. So, don’t overdo it and listen to your body. There is a machine that’s great for glutes—the kickback machine. Start this at around 50 lbs. and do reps on each leg. I recommend 50 on each leg in increments of 10.

There you have it. I really hope this article helps, and please be sure to share.

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