I'd say first you should research a bit on the topic, get informed. A great place to start is this one: http://liamrosen.com/fitness.html
I started weight lifting and general fitness back in high school. If there's something I've learned is that before you start any program, you should ask yourself "why am I doing this?", "what are my goals?"
At 18 years old, 5'10, 150lbs and 18% body fat, I lifted for around almost a year and a half without making any remarkable progress. After a while I realized there's much more to do than just lift weights in a way some ignorant gym trainer told me. It's actually really simple, but there's lots of misconceptions around.
I changed my routine for something that focused on compound lifts, started a basic nutrition program and changed my cardio for something more challenging and in just 8 weeks, I was able to lower my body fat to 10%.
After that point, I went on bulk and cut periods for some years. I was my biggest at 170lbs, 12% body fat. I was able to deadlift 365lbs x 8 reps (when I started, I could barely deadlift 95lbs).
And then... I started the working life and stopped lifting completely for a year and half, and returned to shitty habits. I lost some muscle mass and gained a shit ton of fat. Back in september I started lifting again and so far, so good.
I've lost most that fat I gained in those years and gained some muscle, too. I'm looking better than ever. What I learned: health and fitness is a non-negotiable lifestyle.
Your gym should have the following:
- Have a good, positive atmosphere.
- Good equipment. A good gym should have at least one place in which you can perform deadlifts and squats (squat rack, power rack, etc.). This is important, many gyms just have something called "The Smith Machine", while it's a great piece of equipment, it's not a replacement of a full power rack.
- It should be affordable. My understanding is that in the US and Europe gyms are really affordable. A 25$ to 50$usd monthly fee sounds fine.
- It must be near your house or workplace.
- It should have a flexible schedule.
- It must have qualified, professional trainers. People who know what they are doing and are willing to simply do their jobs and help you when in need and won' try to charge you any extras or scam you.
- You should be comfortable enough while you're there.
As for nutrition, Rosen's guide covers pretty much everything. You should:
- Learn how to prepare your own meals.
- After some time, you'll learn how to prepare your meals in advance.
- Learn how much you should be eating (in calories). Do this before attempting to lose or gain weight.
- Learn how you will split those calories troughout the day (number of daily meals and snacks).
- Learn the importance of protein, carbohydrates, fats, fiber, water, vitamins and minerals.
- After a while you'll learn how to manipulate your calorie intake in order to gain or lose weight.
As for your training and sports in general (again, read Rosen's guide for further advice):
- Weight training is the key for developing muscle (along with proper nutrition, the actual training program and rest).
- Sports are activities in which you get to use your muscles, but by themselves build few muscle. Stronger muscles improve your performance in sports.
- A good workout routine should be based on something called "compound lifts": lifts that use two are more joints.
- Learn how to perform these exercises with proper technique first before attempting heavy weights. This is extremely important.
- Stick with already proven workout programs, there's no reason to make your own yet. Many people advocate "starting strength" as a great kick-start workout program.
Diet is what dictaminates whether if you'll gain or lose weight. Weight training is what will make you conserve muscle while dieting down, or build muscle while eating at a surplus.
"I think EVERYONE here on GW has to have cranked one out over Pulits or Trujin before. How's it feel, guys?" - Christophomicus <--Feels great, btw.