Most of us have had it; the sudden realisation that what we see before ourselves in the mirror is exactly the opposite of what we want.

Whether you feel you’re overweight, underweight, need to lose fat or need to gain muscle, a gym membership is something we all can and should benefit from.

You may be thinking, “the gym’s always crowded” or “I don’t know what I’m doing, I’ll be embarrassed”, so before joining a gym there are 2 crucial tasks you need to complete.

Consult your GP

The first thing you need to do before embarking on any health and fitness journey is make sure you are safe to do so. Consult with your GP (General Practitioner) and get the all clear from them to start training and pushing your body. If you dive into a new exercise routine and aren’t completely safe you may be at risk of injury or even worse, death. Things like high blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes all need to be managed properly when training. Make sure to get the go-ahead from your GP.

Truly know your goals

Next, you want to make sure you have a passionate, true reason to start training. This has to be something that you truly want to achieve. I’ve seen many people start training because they “just want to tone up a bit” or “just want to lose a couple of kilos” and are never to be seen again after the first few weeks. Your goal needs to be strong. So much so that when you are down in the dumps and don’t feel like training, or don’t feel like preparing your food, you can think back to your goal and it should motivate you to get it done. It should push you and keep you accountable.

Those 2 things, making sure you’re all clear and truly knowing your goal are the 2 most important aspects to consider before you join a gym. They require no experience and can be done by anyone.

Joining the gym may feel a little daunting for some. It can be scary walking into the unknown without a clue of what you’re doing. But I would encourage anyone, no matter how new you are, no matter how scared you are, no matter how confused you are, to sign up and get going. The people at the gym; whether they are sales staff, personal trainers or even other members can help to get you started. And being at the gym is better than being at home on the couch.

If, however, you want to get in a little bit of work before you sign up, or you currently aren’t in a position to sign up there a few things you can do from home to get going.

Start moving

Get off the couch and get active. Walking, running, cycling, whatever. By doing something that your body isn’t used to you’re already creating minor adaptations which will prepare your body for more intense activity at the gym.

If you’re after weight loss, start walking. 30 minutes a day can do wonders early on in your journey. While it’s good to get you out of your usual routine, it may not be enough on its own to have a major impact on lasting weight loss. Add in some high intensity workouts and resistance training as well.

Include resistance training

For those of you out there looking to build muscle don’t feel you need to be grunting and straining away in the weights room from the get-go, the dumbbells can come later. And this doesn’t exclude people looking for fat loss either, one of the best ways to lose fat is to build muscle.

Start with simple exercises like push-ups. With the right work rate & commitment you can start to see and feel results quite quickly.

A good template I use quite often is 30/30.

30 seconds of work followed by 30 seconds of rest.

Keeping the push-up example, you set a timer to beep every 30 seconds. During the work period, complete as many push-ups as you can until the timer beeps. You then rest for 30 seconds. Repeat this until you have completed the desired amount of sets. A good place to start is with 5 sets and gradually build up to 10 sets as you get stronger and develop more endurance.

This can also be applied to other exercises such as sit-ups, squats, planking and much more.

What if you can’t get to the gym in the future?

As mentioned above, you can still get great results without ever stepping foot in the gym. However, later on it can be a little harder to progress and reach your full potential with a lack of equipment.. But that’s wayyyy down the road!

Programs for home training or training on the go are a great way to make steady, measureable progress with no, or minimal, equipment. The Steel Home program in my Steel Transformation Academy, for example, starts you off with simple, bodyweight movements and gradually integrates more advanced movements and other variations such as unilateral exercises and giant sets.

This can be a great place to start your transformation and can keep you in good stead for a long time before you need to stress your body more with heavier weights.

Seek guidance

Once you are ready to get yourself a gym membership it is a good idea to seek guidance from a professional. They can help make your transition smooth and pain-free. You will learn how to perform movements correctly, how much work you should do, how often you should train and much more. A personal trainer, in the gym or online, can provide you with the expertise and knowledge to keep you safe and fast-track you towards your goals.

As mentioned earlier, get clearance from your doctor and really nail down your goals before you sign up to a gym. Once you have done both, get down to the best gym in your area and get started, or at least get moving at home. Either way, don’t be intimidated by the prospect of a gym membership; consider it an investment in your own future.

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