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Associated Press
Limit time on cardio machines to about 30 minutes, and always wipe them down when you are finished.

New to the gym?

Out of the 45 percent of Americans who make New Year’s resolutions, almost half of those are related to self-improvement, fitness and weight loss.

The sad truth, however, is that only 8 percent of those people are actually successful. Here are some tips for gym newbies:

Convenience. Choose a gym close to your home or office. Consider signing up with a friend or partner so you can be gym buddies and hold yourselves accountable. Also be certain to develop a realistic gym schedule. Don’t vow to be at a 5 a.m. Wednesday cycling class if you aren’t a morning person – set yourself up for success.

Prepare. Be sure to set up a tour of your new facility and, if your budget allows for it, schedule some personal training sessions. Most gyms offer at least one training session for free. This will familiarize you with your gym and give you a go-to workout to help you reach your goals. Be sure to also wear comfortable clothing and bring a towel. Also bring any mental distractions to help you get through your workout such as music, magazines, books, etc.

Look seasoned. There are some standard rules of etiquette to follow while at the gym. Be sure to limit your time on cardio machines, especially when there is a wait – 30 minutes is a good rule of thumb. When you are done with the treadmill – or any machine – wipe it down. You might be thrilled with the sweat pouring out of you, but chances are, the person using the machine after you isn’t.

Relax. This is not the time to be intimidated. A lot of people are new to the gym, especially this time of year. If something like a new class makes you nervous, show up early. This way, you can set up and ask the instructor any questions before the class begins.

Feedback. Make the most of your membership. If your club is missing a favorite class or piece of equipment, or something is not up to par, let them know. Your happiness and fitness journey should be their No. 1 goal.

“The most important trend and tip for 2014 is to do it for yourself,” says SWEAT Fitness President Tracy Shannon. “2014 is the year to not only set goals but to be realistic and achieve them! Make your wellness a priority.”

– SWEAT Fitness