Beginner’s Guide to Gym Equipment

A new year, comes new resolutions and, as I’m sure you’re aware, many people have their sights set on exercise and fitness.

A new year, comes new resolutions and, as Iím sure youíre aware, many people have their sights set on exercise and fitness.

Ever heard of atychiphobia? It’s new to me too, and though it’s not something I’m diagnosed with, I may have a minor case of it. Atychiphobia is the fear of failure. The kind of fear that keeps me and so many people from trying something outside our comfort zone.

Gyms experience a spike in memberships and attendance in January (12% of members join this month), with many people showing up for their first time. It can be an empowering, albeit intimidating, experience for newcomers. You walk in and immediately start to judge everyone elseís physique as well as your own.

The last thing I want to see happen is for you to give up before you really get started because it all just seems too hard or unfamiliar, so I put together this blog post to get you up to snuff on some gym basics, particularly with gym equipment.

Free weights like dumbbells, plates, bars, and kettlebells only make up a small portion of gym equipment available to you. There is a never-ending variety of machines to choose from, which is usually a good place to start for beginners. Most simply put, machines refer to equipment that utilize cables, pulleys, pins, or weight stacks to provide resistance (see example on the left). Weight can be adjusted quickly and it’s easier to have good form since the machine directs your movements. Plus they usually provide detailed instructions on the machine itself, showing you the proper exercises to use it for.

Anytime I try out an unfamiliar exercise, I like to see how it should be done. YouTube is a great resource because you can see the exercise performed in real time (way better than trying to imagine it while reading a mile-long description). So if you’re not sure of the exact way to perform a curl or what a deadlift looks like, watch a video!


In addition to bringing the right equipment, you should also be conscious of some basic gym etiquette. Consider these general rules:

Don’t play around on your phone between sets. People take too long when they have to take breaks to browse their phone for the next song or reply to texts. Move out of the way if you need to use your phone.
Donít monopolize all the gym equipment you want to use. Really, you only need one machine at a time.
Maintain good hygiene and clean your clothes please! Heat, sweat, and fabric. Iíll let you do the math.
‘Rack your weights.’ A common gym phrase. In other words, put your stuff back when youíre done. This isn’t preschool.
Wipe off your equipment when youíre finished using it.

Gym Shopping

In addition to knowing what to bring, many people are concerned about cost, but your monthly membership costs can be just about as high or as low as you want.

As you would expect with anything, the more you pay the more benefits you can expect. Gyms and health clubs can vary greatly in their membership plans, amenities and equipment, so itís smart to do some comparison shopping.

I am by no means the know-it-all here, so I want to hear from the rest of you no matter if youíre a novice or experienced professional. What’s your preference on gym equipment? Do you prefer free weights or machines? Please comment below.