• Audra Oakes



This guest post is written by Monica Frederick from MindfullyMonica.com where she writes about adding inspiration, mindfulness and wellness into everyday life. You can read more about her HERE.

One of the reasons why I started Mindfully Monica was I had a transformation in my health with nutrition and fitness and I wanted to share what I went through along the way.  I knew I needed both to make a real difference in my life.  So I forced myself to tag along with my husband to the gym.

I got to the gym the first time and was TOTALLY uncomfortable.  I saw the free weights and the area where the “super fit” people hung out and immediately said, “nope”.  After wandering around totally lost for about 45 minutes, I spent about 15 minutes on the treadmill then and thinking I did an hour long workout.

Obviously, that wasn’t really a great start to nailing down my routine, but I’ve learned how to walk into a gym with a sense of direction.  Here are my tips for learning how to maximize your time at the gym.


Nothing is worse than showing up to a gym and wandering around aimlessly having no idea where to start.  Avoid wasting time and feeling awkward! Plan ahead! 

Step one to maximizing your time at the gym is to have a weekly plan of what you want to do.

Each week, plan out your week with workouts.  This will be a good way for you to work different parts of your body.  Bonus, you’ll more likely to hold yourself accountable to actually go. 

I even schedule my workouts on my calendar like it’s an important meeting I can’t miss!

Working out different parts of your body throughout the week is important.  You don’t want to over work a certain muscle group, and you don’t want to leave any muscle group out!

You can type your workouts into your phone or use a planner.  After drawing my own planner in a notebook to plan my meals and workouts, I created one for you to use!

Check out my free weekly workout planner to help keep you on track and give you a clear sense of direction when you go to a gym!  You can snag yours here.

Start out your weekly planner with a meal prep page then journal your daily intentions water intake and workouts for each day (for more on setting intentions see my morning routine post here).


It’s important to incorporate different types of work outs to your routine.  If you are only doing heart pumping cardio workouts, you’ll miss the benefits of stretching. 

The same goes with weight lifting, especially if your goal is to lose weight!  If your goal is to loose weight and you only do weight training you won’t see a lot of results.

Here’s a breakdown:


Cardiovascular exercise (cardio) should be a part of your weekly routine.  Think of cardio like running on the treadmill, jumping jacks, ellipticals, or anything that gets your heart pumping and makes you sweat.

Want some more science why you should add cardio?  Check out this informative graphic from the Cleveland Clinic here.  It goes over how cardio helps every part of your body!


This is going to be anything involving resistance, or weights.  This could mean free weights (like dumbells, barbells, etc) or weight machines you can find at a gym.

If you are new to the gym, I would start with weight machines.  You can usually find them in the center of gyms.  Free weights will typically be along the walls with mirrors.  Weight machines usually have instructions with pictures, which is always great for new comers!


Stretching after a workout is really beneficial to your muscles!  Stretching helps keep you safe from injury, it increase blood flow to your muscles and helps you stay healthy overall.

Check out more science behind Flexibility Training from Harvard Medical School!


When you create your workout plan it will be important to know how often you want to work out. 

Here’s an example of a possible 6 day-a-week-workout:

  • Mondays: cardio and legs

  • Tuesdays: chest and back

  • Wednesday: abs and cardio

  • Thursdays: all arms (bis, tris, etc) and yoga

  • Fridays: cardio and lower body

  • Saturdays: freebie day (you choose what you need).

  • Sundays: Active rest day! (take a walk around the house or do some gentle stretching)

But, if you’re only planning on working out 3 days a week, that will look a different.  Here’s an example of a week you could do:

  • Mondays: arms, chest and back

  • Wednesdays: lower body and cardio

  • Fridays: abs, obliques and cardio

You’ll have to add a little more in each day to make sure you get all muscle groups you need to!

In the weekly workout planner, you can plan your workouts in advance and in your “rest” days you do gentle stretches and journal those on the days you don’t work out.  Rest days are important to let your body recover from all the working out you’ll be doing!


If you plan on doing weight lifting that involve repetition (or reps) you’ll want to have an idea of your activity.  That way you have a starting point and you can only grow from there!

Here’s what you need to journal each time you practice weight training:

How heavy your weights are.

How many reps you do.

For example, if you are on a weight machine and you do 15 reps at 10 pounds in one week.  Then a possible goal for the next week could be 20 reps at 10 pounds.

I believe in journaling for a LOT of different reasons (see here and here), and fitness is no different.  I can look back at where I started and see how much stronger I am vs. where I started. 

Journaling your workout is useful for when something might force you to switch your routine up!  Like if you went to the gym expecting to do an arm workout, but maybe the machines are busy. You can journal what you did and re-adjust with the rest of the week.  Don’t let someone else get in the way of working out every muscle group!

Good luck with setting up your workout routine and maximizing your time at the gym! Feel free to email me at monica@mindfullymonica.com if you have any questions!

Stay Mindful,



©2018 by Audra Oakes