When the new year rolls around, our minds quickly turn to self-improvement and goal setting. Many times these goals have to do with keeping our bodies in shape and everyone has different reasons for this. According to a poll conducted by the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, 2 out of 3 of the top goals for 2017 are “exercising more” and “weight loss”.

Are you looking to get back in your fitness groove in the new year, but afraid to do so? Maybe it’s been forever since you’ve stepped foot into the gym, or perhaps you want to avoid hurting yourself, especially if you already deal with chronic pain? Don’t fret because we have some tips to keep you in check.

Recently, I sat down with Mike Klein, owner of the Pittsburgh-based Fitness Factory Gym. Mike has worked in the fitness industry for over 35 years and also has previous experience as a body-builder winning several titles including Mr. Oil City in his younger days. Mike shared with me some of his top secrets for hitting the gym as a newbie, working through pain issues or someone that’s been out of the scene for a while:


Perform some self-reflection before heading to the gym for the first time. It is important to understand the “why” behind your goals and to ensure they are in alignment with what you are looking to achieve. Be sure to have an idea of “what’s driving you to go to the gym.”


  • Don’t try to do anything too fancy. Stick to selectorized machines when you are just starting out at the gym. These machines help you define the movement, so you are less likely to hurt yourself while you get used to the motions and muscles used.
  • Stretch before and after working out. Don’t forget to implement a hot/cold therapy regimen before and after stretching which is really important for beginners. Mike notes that, “This is really underused for muscle recovery for the beginner. It doesn’t have to be complicated. I even encourage icing during tough workouts!”
  • Depending on your goals, start with a set number of repetitions:
    To build muscle mass: do 5 – 8 reps
    For strength training: 10 – 12 reps
    To stimulate and burn fat: 15 – 20 reps


Only commit to what you know you can accomplish without having to put loads of pressure on yourself. Break your big objectives into small, achievable goals so you can stay committed beyond January. Overcommitting in the beginning can lead to failure in the end.


When first starting out at the gym, try to choose one that’s locally owned and operated. This way you will have a better chance of getting that 1-on-1 attention that will support you in achieving your fitness and health goals. Mike mentions this with first-hand knowledge of what it takes to serve members in achieving their greatest fitness potential because he has owned and operated the Fitness Factory for 25 years. In fact, I am a highly satisfied customer of Mike’s and have been attending the Fitness Factory for over 7 years. So, I can attest to the fact that staying local can have its advantages when committing to a workout routine.

There you have it! If getting fit and healthy is on your mind for this new year take advantage of these helpful tips. Make yourself a priority in 2017.

Helen Behn is the creator and founder of Spand-Ice: wearable, flexible, gear made for women to get pain relief while staying mobile throughout their entire motherhood journey. Helen started Spand-Ice because of her own personal struggle to relieve chronic back pain without taking time out of her life.