Trainer John Gordon offers advice on getting back in the gym

Trainer John Gordon reminds us of basics for hitting the gym

RICH LOPEZ | Staff writer

The memes and vids are out where regular gym-goers face the wave of New Year resolution makers. But without fail, we all see Jan. 1 as a clean slate and a reasonable time to start new, healthy habits (although anytime really is good for that). With those habits come new gym memberships, meal prepping and a shopping spree at Academy for cute workout clothes.

That’s all a good thing. Whatever it takes to achieve those goals and resolutions, we support it.

But knowing more about joining and using the gym can also be helpful in making headway. The gym can be intimidating when everyone around seems to know what they are doing.

But getting there is a start, and John Gordon offers a primer of tips on heading into the gym whether for the first time or in a long time.

John Gordon has been a staple in the community as a trainer for more than 20 years. He tends to his clients primarily at Trophy Fitness in Uptown. His services can be found at

He talked about some basics as we start a new year with a new us.

DALLAS VOICE: Many folks are joining the gym this time of year. Are there some key things to know? JOHN GORDON: The first thing is to have a goal. You need to know if you want to gain size or lose weight or have extra energy or just improve your overall fitness. That will help you put a plan together which will include weights, cardio or both or even some classes. Have a vision of what you want to look like.

What about those who may have never been to the gym or it’s been a while? If someone’s never been to a gym, start off with a trainer to get acclimated and get used to the equipment. Perhaps one of the biggest mistakes is not being prepared and not knowing what to do when you get there. Outside of a trainer there are apps to help people get started. And don’t be afraid to watch other people.

With that said, how does one get over gym intimidation? Don’t be afraid to ask somebody for help — if they look like they know what they are doing. I think someone would take it as a compliment if you asked.

Food is obviously a component of getting fit and healthier at this time. Don’t go for extreme diets or an excessive amount of supplements. Part of changing your health has to start at home with nutritional changes. You really want to eat healthy most of the time. You don’t have to be super healthy every day of your life, but you will need to change what you eat to help with what you do in the gym.

Motivation is always at a high right now, but are there common mistakes with going all in gung ho? Having too high of an expectation sets people up for failure. It’s a commitment. Dedicate going to the gym three to five times a week. You’ll see minimal changes in that first month or two. All my clients take pics every 30 days. We notice the subtle changes that you can’t see every day. Taking those pics can hold yourself accountable. This isn’t a quick fix.

What do you say to those who resolve to get healthier but may not want to join a gym? There is a lot on the internet and there are apps that can help with working out from home. Order some plyometric bands; change your eating habits; do some power walking. Finding those guidelines can really be beneficial, and there is a lot you can do at home without having to build a gym there. There are also trainers who will come to you and bring some equipment like bands or balls with them to workout.

Are there pros and cons of relying on social media for workouts and exercise tips? There are people who put out material that may not always be beneficial, but you can look at their reviews or see how many followers they have, and that can tip you in the right direction. With some of these Instagram people, find someone you wanna look like and follow them.

OK, last but not least, going to the gym isn’t just working out — there is some etiquette as well. For sure, re-rack those weights when you’re done! Yes, there is a little etiquette that some people forget about. Just be conscientious of other people and wipe down everything when you’re done at that station or with the equipment. It’s just good protocol.

What is your overall philosophy as a trainer that you want to impart? My mantra is “slow, steady and permanent.” Have that vision of what you want to look like, and have photos of what you want to look like for motivational purposes. Anything that will inspire you to succeed, because more people fail than succeed.

If you miss a few days, don’t think you’ve lost everything. Just get back in there. Don’t try to do too much, but enjoy what you’re doing. If you don’t like weights, try classes or something else. And changing how you eat is a big part. Ultimately, it’s up to us to make that conscious decision to get healthier and fit.