A Beginners Guide to GYM “JIVE” – TPI Trainer, Charlotte



A place where men go to get great, big, and huge and women go to get lean and toned. Yep, after about 25 years in the fitness industry and a few decades going to gyms on my own before that, I’d say that about sums it up!

In the Beginning

I remember the first ‘gym’ I ever worked out in. I was just out of college, the year, 1985 (yep, I’m old). I got a part-time job working the desk at Royal Racquetball on Middle Country Road in Selden, NY. It was a Racquetball club by design, but this was the time period that Nautilus equipment was just coming onto the scene, and fitness clubs were becoming the rage. So they tore down 2 of the courts and put in a circuit of Nautilus Machines.

The fitness industry at that time (and a good portion of it today) was based solely on Body Building principles developed in the 70’s. Isolate one body part from the rest in an effort to make it stronger and bigger. This strategy still exists today as it’s hard to change culture, no matter how much we know better.

I would soon move on to World Gym. The same kind of machines, the same “muscle head” mentality.

Not many women in that kind of gym back in those days so as soon as I heard Bally’s Total Fitness was about to open up I jumped ship and headed for where the ladies were.

Ah, the 80’s. It was a fun time to be alive. Good music, good times. Bally’s definitely had a totally different vibe. The men (me included) would all do basically the same workout. Get your weight belt out of the trunk, strap it on like you were some kind of powerlifter, and march into the gym only to do upper body exercises.

The staples, then and now to a larger extent were:

  • The bench press
  • The lat pull down
  • Triceps extensions (seated or with a cable if there was one)
  • Biceps curls (of course!)
  • And maybe an upright row.
  • For abs, crunches.
  • Leg day, what was that? No man I ever saw in the gym did squats, deadlifts, and lunges. Not in the 80’s anyway.


One thing for certain, back in those days I had no idea what I was doing.  Before I became a professional, I had little knowledge of sets, reps, and tempo (oh my). Like most guys, I just went into the gym without a plan, without a program, without any knowledge of exercise science at all and I still made gains. We all did, mostly because we were in our 20’s! And when you’re in your 20s, if you pick anything up,  you’re in you gained muscle.

So, before this gets too long I wanted to share with you a little Gym “Jive” so you have an idea of the language fitness professionals use in the gym. And if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to send me a note: info@golffitnesscharlotte.com

For someone new to working out, the terms in the gym can be like learning a

foreign language. Understanding some basic terms of weight training can help

make sense of your workout.


A movement using your own body weight, free weights, cables, or a machine that

works a certain body part or groups of body parts.


How much time is taken to recover between exercises or after completing a circuit

of exercises.


Intensity is a measure of applied strength relative to maximum strength. Intensity is generally

measured as a percentage of your one-rep max (the maximum amount of weight

you can lift) in any given exercise.


Also called a ‘rep’. This one completes movement through an exercise’s full range

of motion. E.g. One a bench press, for instance, pushing the bar up from your

chest (the positive portion of the movement) and lowering it back down (the

negative portion of the movement) is one repetition. Reps (plural) is the number

of times you repeat a given exercise or movement in a set.


The completion of the prescribed number of reps for a given exercise. For example,  if you

performed 12 reps of that bench press before racking the bar, those 12 repetitions

together constitute one set. As you progress from workout to workout, you can

increase the number of sets as you feel you can tolerate it.


Also known as rep speed. Tempo is the pace at which you execute the exercise.

The amount of weight you are using and the specific goal of the exercise will

determine exercise tempo.


Though resistance training is anaerobic in nature, meaning the energy your body uses to lift

weight comes from a stored source that doesn’t require oxygen to release energy, you

obviously can’t hold your breath as you complete the movements. The general rule of thumb

is to breathe out (exhale) on the ‘positive’ portion of the rep (when the targeted muscle(s) shortens) and breathe in (inhale) on the ‘negative’ portion of the rep (when the targeted muscle(s) lengthen).