The 10 Commandments of the Gym

How was your first week of 2018?

I’m happy to be back to my regular routine, and we got our puppy, Dex, back from a 2-week board and train program. Look at this obedient cutie!


I love January.  I love new beginnings, resolutions, and the countdown to spring.  I particularly love making New Year’s Resolutions. Probably because I love goal setting, in general, and am set goals throughout the year.

In the United States, losing weight/working out makes up a combined 26.9% of new year resolutions.  Of course, I wish optimal health and fitness for each of you in 2018, but…

As a gym-rat, I dread January in the gym. The influx of new members is frustrating, but that’s not the reason. What drives us regulars insane is not the eager new gym-goers, but when said newbies don’t take the time to understand the gym or how to be successful.  I believe this is also why people quit going and don’t stick to their fitness resolutions.

That’s why I’ve created the 10 Commandments of the Gym.  These are designed to help you navigate the gym, increase your likelihood of success, and ensure you won’t irritate others around you.

1.) Thou Shalt Have a Plan or Plan to Fail

have a plan

If you know me, or follow my blog, you’ve heard me say repeatedly, have a plan or plan to fail.  It’s the motto I live by.  I used to be very strict in this notion and literally wrote out my workout each day before even setting foot in the gym.  Nowadays, I’m very good at impromptu ass-kicking, but I still plan.  I usually start with 20 minutes of cardio and often use this time to think through what I want to accomplish once I hit the weight room.

For beginners, this is probably the most important commandment.  I watch so many people wander around the gym aimlessly and confused.  No one likes to feel lost and confused, so of course one will get discouraged and quit.

There are many resources available to all fitness levels.  Here are a few of my favorites.  Spend the time, do your research, and have a plan.  It will help you succeed.

Jamie Eason Lean Body Trainer

Nike Training App

P.S. I am not affiliated with any of these sites/app.   Just sharing knowledge.

2.) Thou Shalt Hire a Personal Trainer or Take a Group Class

group fitness

I wasn’t always comfortable in the weight room.  Way before I ever got into resistance training, and waaaay before becoming a personal trainer, I took group classes. Group classes provide a structured routine, instruction, and a fun group atmosphere. It also takes all planning out of the equation, and therefore, arming you with a plan. Reference above.  🙂

If you can afford to hire a personal trainer, I highly recommend this for beginners. Good form is crucial when weight training. A trainer will give you the foundation and confidence you need to eventually do it on your own. And, you will always work harder for someone else.

3.) Thou Shalt Rack my Weights

rack your weights

This one drives me crazy!

Lift weights up; put them down (in their proper place).  That’s all.

4.) Thou Shalt Wipe Down the Equipment

gym equipment

You look GOOOD on that bench, but the sweat angel you left behind is just gross.  I realize that not all gyms offer towel service, but they all have paper towels or bring your own towel.  I’m sorry, but you Men are the worst offenders and sweat the most!  Wipe it down!!!

5.) Thou Shalt Not Treat Equipment like a Rollercoaster

carnival ride

I see this all the time on free-motion equipment. The very concept of resistance training is that resistance is applied as work to strengthen muscle(s).  If the exercise feels too easy, and you’re flailing around with no effort, the exercise is both pointless and dangerous.   A good rule of thumb for resistance training is that the last 2 reps of any set should be hard. For example, if you are doing 1 set of 12 reps, then reps 11 and 12 should be difficult, but doable with good form. If you’re able to bust out 12 reps no problem – add weight.

6.) Thou Shalt not Socialize

 do not socialize

Let me start by saying that I’ve met some of my best friends at the gym, and I love running into them and getting a quick catch-up on their life.  That is NOT what I’m talking about.  I’m referring to the people that sit on a piece of equipment FOREVER chatting up a storm.  This is also true for lengthy phone conversations from the comfort of the bench.  Be mindful of the people around you and the time you spend on the equipment.  If it’s a conversation worth having, step aside and enjoy.

7.) Thou Shalt Set Realist Goals


This one is for you, not me.  Nothing worth doing is ever easy or immediate.  It takes time, dedication and repetition.   Be kind to yourself.  If you have 20 pounds to lose, remember you didn’t gain 20 pounds overnight and you won’t lose 20 pounds that fast either.  If you want more defined muscles, find the right program for toning and building muscle and commit to it.

I suggest breaking up goals into 3 categories: 1 week, 1 month, 6 months, and 1 year.  For example, if you want to run a marathon this year your goals might look like this:

1 week: Complete my first run and find “couch to marathon” training program to follow.

1 month: Be able to run 3 miles without walking.

6 months: Be able to run 10 miles

1 year: Complete first triathlon

I’m not a marathon runner. This is just an example to show that smaller goals are more achievable and will make you feel accomplished along the way.

8.) Thou Shalt Show Up


I’m going to tell you right now that you will not always going to want to go to the gym. If you are just starting out, you might NEVER want to go to the gym.  Even I have days I don’t want to work out.  Here’s the secret, just get there.  Do what you have to do to drag your ass there.  Tell yourself you will commit to 10 minutes. If after 10 minutes you’re just not feeling it then give yourself permission to go home and come back another day.  The likelihood that you actually leave after 10 minutes is very slim.  The only bad workout is no workout.

9.) Thou Shalt Mind my Hygiene


Com’on, Heidi, do you really need to make not stinking a commandment?

Sadly, yes.  Listen, if I didn’t constantly run into the B.O. offenders I wouldn’t mention it.  It happens more often than it should. So, deodorant.  Period.

And, while we are on the subject, the same goes for over doing it with perfume/cologne.  Too much is equally offensive. Less is more in general, but when it comes to the gym save the spritzing for post-shower only.

10.) Thou Shalt Have Fun

happy dog

“Handle every situation like a dog; if you can’t eat or play with it, just pee on it and walk away.”  Author unknown, but the sediment true nonetheless.  If you love it you will appreciate it, if you don’t it’s piss poor.

Just because I love the weight room, doesn’t mean you will.  I’m not a Zumba fan, but that class is packed every time. If you are having fun it won’t feel like working out. Find what gets you excited to move and exercise.  Piss on the rest.  🙂  Love, Dex.

Cheers to a fun, healthy, fit, abundant 2018!


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