Starting Out: Things I Wish Knew

Posted on: December 29th, 2017 by Karl Gellert No Comments

Head’s up friend – the next couple posts are all going to be tied in to the “Learn to Gym” course we’re starting next Saturday (January 6th) because it’s my baby and I’m really excited about it. So if you’re reading this thinking “Karl, I already know this….”, that’s totally cool. We have classes, coaches and resources for you as well, but this is specifically for those who need a place to start out.

Because we all start somewhere, right?

Being a “beginner gymmer” (I’m trademarking this) is simultaneously exciting and completely overwhelming. A little background on yours truly: I’ve been training people for 8 years, lifting for 12 (wait, how old am I again?) and I still get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information that’s out there nowadays. Back in my day I got most of my information from the forums, so yeah… you actually have it pretty good.

Now that pretty much ALL of the information is out there (remember all those “10 Muscle Building Secrets!” articles?) it’s confusing and more often than not, contradictory, so people do either

A) A bunch of stuff that doesn’t fit or compliment each other


B) Get overwhelmed and do nothing at all


C) Kind of just ride the bike slowly in the corner

Neither are great options in my book.

I got some good news for you: we all start somewhere. And double good news! When starting, all of us, besides a very select few, totally suck! At everything! I did, the other coaches at Propel did, and your favourite Instagram trainer did too. We all start with tiny weights, with beginner progressions and struggling to be mediocre at the basics. And that’s ok, because if you skip that step (the basics) you suck forever. Can’t learn to do calculus without learning multiplication (I’ve been told. I just get Google to do it for me).

Quick side note, it took me about 8 years to come to the conclusion that compared to someone else, I’ll always suck. But that’s ok because compared to versions of my previous self, I improve all the time. I love competition, but usually comparing yourself to someone else is a pointless and frustrating waste of time.

At Propel our mission is pretty straightforward: making you better as a human being. Better mobility, better strength, better quality of life. Maybe not emotionally, that’s beyond my qualifications, but movement, strength, and fitness wise, we’re here to transform you into a better version of you (also to make the gym a place you actually like being in).

Our Learn to Gym class is the starting point for exactly that. We’re going to get you confident and ready to do all the basic building block exercise movements of any program – squats, deadlift, overhead pressing, rowing, bench press and core work. Effectively giving you the tools to train confidentiality, whether you go out on your own or to come to any of our other classes (which rock, by the way).

We’re going to answer all the questions (Ok, most. I can’t predict EVERY question) that come up with newcomers: What exercises do I do? How many days do I need to work out? How long should I train? Do I have to buy protein powder? When do I eat? What do I eat? Should I stretch? How do I warm up? Why don’t I have a six pack yet?

All valid questions. While I’d much, much rather see you in person, think of this as a companion piece as well an ego exercise because even though this is about you, I managed to make it about me.

First of all, I’m going to assume that you’re brand new and just want to get in better shape. We’re not training for a specific sport, or for a specific training niche (crossfit, powerlifting, olympic lifting etc.), you just want to get started

Regardless of your athletic aspirations, getting good at the big, basic lifts will give you a great foundation to build off of. Think of it as going to college – you can major in whatever you want once you’re there, but you got to get in first

In that vein, I came up with ten things you should know before you start that I wish someone had told me.

1) Find a workout routine (written by someone else!) that is built around some variation of squats, deadlifts, bench and overhead press*. At least 2 workouts a week, ideally 3-4 times per week.

2) Little by little, make sure you’re getting stronger at the above exercises – more reps, more weight, better form. You don’t need to change things that often, despite some of the info thrown around, especially where you are now.

3) You need to do 10 – 20 minutes of conditioning at least 3x week (can be done as part of strength workouts or on their own)

4) Eat for performance – meat, fish, veggies, potatoes, rice, yams, squash. A good rule renowned strength coach Charles Poliquin used to say is “If it doesn’t swim, run, or fly, or isn’t green and grow in the ground, don’t eat it”

5) Consistency, consistency, consistency. Consistency. Got it? Twice a week for 3 months is a lot better than 5 times in one week and none the next, on and off.

6) Track your workouts. Take video of things, write down your weights, reps and sets. Get an app or use an old fashioned notebook. You’ll be surprised when you look back a year from now

7) Be mindful of what you’re doing RIGHT NOW – each rep, set and workout is merely a brick in the wall. They all add up

8) Realize this is not going to happen overnight. It takes a long time. I’m not dumping on “challenges”, they can certainly be useful tools, but they are to either test yourself or as a call to action. If you think a 30 day challenge is going to “get you shredded”, I’m going to burst that bubble right now. This is a process that’s going to take years and want to know the dirty little secret? You’re never done. If you care about your training, you’ll never be 100% satisfied. There’s always something to improve, something to get better at. That’s the fun. Battle’s over but the war goes on. (I can’t take credit here – Ozzy happened to sing this line while I was typing this)

9) Doing something, doesn’t matter if it’s “perfect” or not, is always better than doing nothing. I don’t care if it’s just walking – is it ideal? Not really but it’s way better than nothing

10) Last but not least, remember this – nobody besides you really cares. Maybe people are watching you in the gym, but then they quickly go back to their own workout. Everyone is way too self absorbed to care about what everyone else is doing. On the flip side, when I first deadlifted 405lb I thought it was a huge deal. People’s reaction when you bring it up (which is really hard to do in a casual conversation): “Hey, yeah, that’s cool…”. My point? Nobody really cares (especially nowadays when you see 115lb girls in China doing this on a daily basis. Thanks Instagram). Even if you’re doing something super impressive, people will stop, watch for a second, then go back their own stuff. Worry about you. Because that’s all you can really do.

*Overhead pressing is not for everyone. It can definitely irritate some people’s shoulders” .

I want to get every man, woman and child in the gym, lifting weights, moving better and working hard to get better. I want you to realize just how much the gym can have a hugely positive impact on your life, beyond six packs and booty blasting workouts. Those are great and all, but to me they’re kind of like a top 40 song. They lack substance. Nothing is metal about a six pack.

Throwing around plates like they’re nothing? Metal. Pushing the sled despite wanting to die ten rounds in? Totally metal! Mobility and stretching? Well, ok, not really, but I’ll find a way to make it cool. Just you wait

I’m still gonna make you do it, so you might as well be into it.

Happy New Year and if I’ve piqued your interest, check out our Learn to Gym Classes!

They’re starting January 6th, Saturday mornings at 10 and 11 am and Wednesday nights at 6 and 7 pm

They run for 6 sessions (2 a week) and the cost is $240 plus tax. It’s going to be a kick ass time and you’ll learn about everything above: bracing and proper movement, squats, deadlifts, bench press, rowing , an intro to olympic lifts and more.

Hopefully I see you there!

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Propel Performance Institute

4242 - 99 Street, Edmonton, AB T6E 5B3
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Mon/Wed: 6:00am, 9:00am, 5:30pm, 6:30pm
Tue/Thurs: 530am(HIIT with Jill), 630am, 900am, Noon, 5:00pm, 6:00pm
Fri: 6:00am, 9:00am, 5:00pm, 6:00pm
Sat: 900am + 10:00am + 11:00am
Sun: 10:00am + 11:00am
Mon/Tues/Thurs/Fri: (Vintage)8:00am
Holidays: Closed

*Class times subject to change, check online or on the app

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