f it's the first time you're at the club, you will probably get a 'model' training plan from your trainer... We will have a look at what you can find there. In 95% cases you will be offered only a machine-based training (e.g. leg extensions while sitting, rowing, pull downs, shrugs, etc.) and isolated training (toe raises, chest press, etc.).
Keep in mind that using machines will only slow down your progress in shaping your body, strengthening your muscles, hamstrings, bones and terribly impair the strength and muscle mass growth. Is there a strongman contestant who uses machines? No. Do people who weightlift for the Olympics train on machines? No. Most bodybuilders owe their impressive physiques to free weight training (squats, dead-lifting, bench-press, rowing, etc.)
Being female, you probably dread squatting with a barbell, dead-lifting, pull ups, rowing and bench-press because you will "look bulky", "you'll hurt yourself" or "guys will give me funny looks". As the first one goes - you don't have enough male hormones in your body (mainly testosterone and its derivative DHT) to bulk up. So unless you supplement male hormones (injections, pills or trans-dermal gel) you can rest easy. Strength training will give you results much faster than machines and isolated exercises. Every time someone suggests you train with small weights, isolating muscles and on machines - remember, that's a good way to lose time only (and this is true for both women and men).
When it comes to injuries, you can get hurt doing any exercise wrong and without a warm up. It doesn't really matter if it's a free-weight squatting or leg presses - the possibility of injury is the same.
If you're afraid of performing new exercises because you're not familiar with it - try to learn from somebody who has been doing them for a longer time (has been squatting for many years, or bench-pressing or dead-lifting). Attention: many trainers in the gyms have an embarrassingly low level of knowledge, they propagate training myths and teach wrong techniques. Additionally, a big population of gym-goers with long history of training does not perform basic muscle-building exercises (e.g. squats; and if they do - they do it wrong). Learning from these people will only lead to contusions. Always check the training instructions you receive, technical tips and other advice in the internet: e.g. on a exercise encyclopedia, try to verify the nuances of each technique, watch movies showing the ideal posture.
A training plan for beginners
Eg. something like a full body workout (FBW)
- barbell squat 3 sets, 10 reps
- bent over barbell row 3 sets, 10 reps
- bench press 3 sets, 10 reps
- shoulder press 2-3 sets, 10 reps
- lat pull down 3-5 sets, 10 reps
To this we'll add aerobic training. And again - I wouldn't recommend treadmills, stationary bikes and fitness classes. The average person using such devices and classes usually has no stamina at all - in a running training they would give up after the first couple hundred meters. Instead I would suggest classical, hard outdoor running workout. If you don't have the stamina to run - jog, march, walks and finally (after a couple of weeks of oxygen adaptation) you will start running. Training in closed spaces, e.g. on electronic treadmills is a last resort, if you really don't have where to go for a run. Remember that running outdoors, especially where there are differences in the elevation of your track, is the fastest way to great figure, improving your stamina and efficiency.
Before starting any physical activity, do a health check - consult a doctor and get a permission for the given exercise. This is particularly important if: you have high levels of body fat, cardiovascular problems, bad posture, hypertension, bad eyesight, issues with e.g. your spine. If you haven't exercised for a while - it would be better to start your training with walking (1-2 hours, 3-4 times a week) and stretching. Remember that training the wrong way can cause contusions and injuries.