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7 Gym Mistakes to Stop Making This Year

How to set yourself up for success, according to fitness pros
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New year, new gym membership? Welcome to the fitness club. The gym is a great place to be this time of year, but it can also be a little overwhelming. To help you feel comfortable at the gym and reach your fitness-related goals, we reached out to a handful of people who know the gym-sphere best of all: trainers. With their help, we've uncovered some of the biggest gym-related mistakes people make so you can feel like a pro the next time you sweat it out.

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Walking in Without a Game Plan
"Walking into a gym with the intent of 'doing cardio and weights' is very different than walking into a gym with the intent of doing a half-mile jogging on the treadmill to warm up followed by three sets of 15 reps of jump squats, pushups, bicycle crunches and rows," says Daphnie Yang, a certified personal trainer and SweatShed Instructor at Crunch gyms.

She says that walking into your gym knowing exactly what your game plan is will help you maximize your time there. It'll also help you feel more confident. This idea can also be expanded to your general fitness goals, too.

"People often set their New Year's fitness goal as they 'want to work out more.' The biggest mistake is having too general of a goal with no specifics you can follow through with," says Rachel Piskin, the co-founder of NYC's ChaiseFitness. "Instead, create a goal that becomes your schedule and roadmap for 2019. For example: 'I want to work out two times during the week and one time on the weekend' or 'I want to do one cardio-focused workout, one strength-focused workout, and one workout with a friend.'"

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Not Stepping Outside of Your Comfort Zone
Have you ever ordered the same thing repeatedly at a restaurant only to sit down one day and learn they didn't have your favorite on the menu? But when you ordered something new, you ended up loving it just as much? The same thing happens with fitness, says Kenyatta Banks, a fitness instructor for TruFusion in Scottsdale, Arizona. It's just a matter of branching out to discover new things.

"Take group classes, ask a trainer for help, or hire one to help you with the basics until you are comfortable on your own," says Banks.

Jess Pate, a fitness instructor who also teaches at TruFusion, agrees it's important to step outside of your comfort zone both for your fitness goals and your mental strength. "It can be very scary walking into a giant gym with a bunch of people you have never met before. Rather than running away from it, run to it. The people inside the room with you have been through exactly what you are feeling — instructors included. Ask questions!" she says.

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Not Sharing the Machines
Hogging the same machine is a rookie mistake, for sure, and one that'll have other gym goers annoyed real quick.

"Say you want to get in three sets on the bench press, so you 'claim' it by draping your towel over it even when you have walked away for a recovery break or to get a sip of water. Or even worse, in between your three sets you stay on said machine while checking Instagram for two minutes while you recover," says Yang. "First of all, during that recovery time, you could be doing something else — like training a different muscle group. Secondly, chances are someone wants to work in a set with you but can't because you're spending too much time on that machine."

Most people probably won't say anything to you, but they could be secretly bothered. Just make sure you're aware of how much time you're spending on a specific machine, and if anyone seems interested in using it, then finish and step aside.

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Forgetting to Fuel Yourself Before and After
"Another common fitness mistake is not fueling and hydrating properly before a class or workout. Remember, exercise at the end of the day is added stress to your body. You have to take care of your body if you're going to put extra onto it," Pate says. "It's easy to forget to drink water throughout a normal day let alone a day you are going to exert yourself. Stay hydrated not only in the summer, but in the winter as well, and remember to replenish your body after you have worked out."

Keep in mind that what you put into your body also affects your strength and stamina during a workout. You're much more likely to kick butt having eaten a colorful, nutrient-rich, protein-laden meal versus a donut.

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