Health & Fitness

First Time at the Gym


2020 is here. The New Year means new resolutions. A popular one is to keep fit.

For a first-time gym goer, joining a gym can be very daunting. You’ll enter a gym and the first thing you’ll see are chiselled men and fit women with sweat dripping down their bodies and their grunting noises will make them seem like people who know what they’re doing. But, don’t walk out just yet.

We spoke to Kusienya Jotham, a manager at Muscle Health and Fitness Centre, Nairobi Town Branch, who shared tips to help newbies thrive in the gym, reminding us that experts were once newbies.

The first thing you need is the right state of mind.

“Battles are won and lost in the mind,” Jotham says. With that covered, look for a convenient gym. The right gym is important, as it will boost your morale.


“Choose one that’s closest to your home or workplace with hours that fit your schedule. If it’s far away, you’ll start using distance as an excuse for not exercising,” Jotham says.

“When assessing the gym, talk to the instructors, look at the state of cleanliness and ensure that the workout equipment are in the right condition.”

Consider the cost and plan for it. “I’ve seen people pay for the first two months then find that it’s too expensive because they didn’t budget for it.”

Now that you’ve found the perfect gym, dress for it. “Have comfortable, fashionable clothes, a sturdy pair of sports shoes, a water bottle and a face towel.” Wearing great clothes makes you feel good hence the experience is more worthwhile, he adds.

Next, work with a trainer and share your fitness goals. “You should begin by doing a Full Body Assessment. This will help the trainer know your body. With this information, they will create a basic but effective workout plan for you,” the fitness trainer says, but cautions newbies from skipping out on a personal trainer.

“The one-on-one sessions are important as the trainer will show you what to do, equipment to use and help you work on your form and posture to avoid injuries. Whether you’re a newbie or a pro, proper form is a must. If you don’t do it right, you’ll get hurt,” he says.

A basic gym routine consists of moves that engage the whole body and includes squats, standing bicep curls, seated shoulder presses, stationery lunges, jumping jacks, full burpees and mountain climbers.

When starting out, you’ll experience muscle pain as your body is moving in ways it hasn’t before.

“Muscle pain isn’t injury. It’s perfectly normal so don’t give up. Your body will eventually get used to it.”

He advices newbies to follow the basic routine for four weeks straight. “This will create intensity, consistency and longevity which first-timers need.” Change will come but not as fast. “I’ve seen people, especially ladies, weigh themselves up to five times per 45-minutes gym session! Realistically speaking, you’ll only be able to see results after working out consistently for three months.”

The first month is spent knowing your own body and how to use the gym equipment for your basic routine. “In fact, you’ll gain between one to three kilogrammes in the first one month. If you’re obsessed with the weighing scale, you’ll get discouraged yet your fitness level will have improved,” he says.

The trainer will incorporate more challenging moves and push you further. By the third month, you’ll have mastered the moves enough to work out without a trainer. “Success at the gym is 20 percent trainer’s effort and 80 per cent trainee’s effort,” Jotham states.

And for a fitness resolution to last beyond January 2020, you must be disciplined, available and consistent.