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A Beginner’s Guide to the Gym

Just getting started at the gym? This map will help you strategically navigate the fitness center floor so you can target four crucial types of exercise:


Your goal: Increase your breathing and heart rate with aerobic activity.


  • Treadmills: Try walking briskly on a comfortable incline or lightly jogging.

  • Stationary bikes: Pedal while maintaining a steady but increased heart rate.

  • Other endurance equipment includes:

  • Elliptical

  • Stair-climbers

  • Rowing machines


Your goal: Make your muscles stronger by lifting weights.


  • Free weights: Also known as dumbbells, free weights require more muscular stability than a weight machine. Start with two light weights as you practice bicep curls, shoulder presses, and tricep extensions.

  • Mats: Try working against your own body weight with lunges or squats. You may also use a stability ball, which can help with core exercises.

  • Studios: Scan your gym’s instructor schedule for classes focused on strength training.


Your goal: Improve your balance to prevent falls, which is a common risk for older adults.


  • Mats: Practice standing on one foot, then the other. Or try holding a side plank for 15 seconds on each side.

  • Studios: Scan your gym’s instructor schedule for yoga or tai chi classes.


Your goal: Stretch your muscles to give you more freedom of movement.


  • Mats: You can stretch all areas of your body here.

  • Studios: Scan your gym’s instructor schedule for yoga classes.

If you are unsure about how to properly use a machine or perform a particular exercise, ask a member of your gym’s training staff.

© 2000-2020 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.