A Beginners Guide to the Gym

Many of our readers will have made New Year’s resolutions that involve either joining or returning to the gym following a leave of absence.

Entering the gym for the first time can be pretty intimidating, especially if you don’t know your way around the equipment. Luckily our fitness guru Rhys Jenkins, General Manager at the new Simply Gym in Cwmbran, has put together a beginner’s guide to the gym and the equipment you can expect to find there.


Those of you looking to get fitter and lose weight now it’s a New Year will want to make use of the cardiovascular equipment at the gym.

Cardiovascular (cardio) exercise is any exercise that increases your heart rate. It has many benefits, like strengthening your heart, weight loss and stress relief. The following machines are likely to be found at any gym and are great for cardio.

Treadmills allow you to walk or run on top of a moving belt so that you stay in the same place but cover a lot of ground! They are said to burn the most calories out of the range of cardiovascular machines available. The great thing about treadmills is that you can adapt them to your level by increasing or decreasing the incline and speed as you see fit.

Exercise Bikes resemble normal bicycles, but remain stationary as you peddle. They are great as they have little impact on your joints. Stationary bikes are a fantastic alternative to treadmills if you are suffering from a knee injury, for example. Adjust your bike so that you are sat comfortably, otherwise you could put unnecessary pressure on your body.

Rowing Machines provide an extensive workout by stimulating the action of rowing on water, using air rather than water to create resistance. Rowing machines many benefits including being easy on the joints and increasing body strength.

It is important to find machines that suit your needs and are comfortable to use. Everyone is different and certain machines might impact your body differently to someone else’s.


If your goal is to build muscle and strength, weights are for you. Weight training isn’t just about looking ‘ripped’, it also strengthens your joints to help knee or back conditions, improves bone density and can help with everyday tasks such as carrying shopping.

Weights can be split into two categories – free weights and machines. Free weights include barbells, long bars on which weights are placed and dumbbells, short barbells for each hand. In gyms, most dumbbells will be found on weight racks.

Weight machines are more advanced than free weights. There are a large variety available; some workout individual muscles and others can work the whole body. Common machines include the Leg Press and Calf Machines.

I would recommend including both free weights and machines into your workouts for the best of both worlds. Weights machines are generally safer, but free weights tend to workout more muscle.

Be careful when lifting weights and don’t be put off by bulkier gym-goers – they were novices once too!

Other equipment and machines such as cables, pulleys, benches and stability balls will also be available. I don’t have enough room to cover it all here but what I can’t stress enough is that if you are starting out in the gym, be sure to ask a qualified instructor for help and support. They will be happy to help you out!

Simply Gym go out of their way to make new members feel comfortable. We organise a welcome session with a complimentary personal training session to help you get to grips with the equipment and establish a routine. We guarantee you will see results in your first six weeks or your money back!

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to email me at

Rhys Jenkins
Rhys Jenkins – General Manager, Simply Manager Cwmbran

Rhys recently moved back from Aberdeen to become the General Manager at the brand new Simply Gym in Cwmbran. He has worked in the fitness industry since he left University and has experience in personal training and many other roles. As much as it may seem a cliché, Rhys loves helping people achieve their goals and turning their lifestyle around. The more people he can help the better! If you have any questions for Rhys you can email him at

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