Congratulations! You just joined a gym. You’re on your way to experiencing countless benefits, including improved health, increased muscle strength, elevated mood, and a faster metabolism. But upon entering the gym, you quickly notice this is where all the beautiful people are. Everybody is ripped. (So this is who they make workout clothes for, huh?) Not only does everyone look like they just finished a photo shoot for a major fitness publication, but they’re voluntarily using workout equipment that looks like a modern version of an ancient medieval device used to torture people. Suddenly, you’re rethinking this whole getting in shape thing. “Maybe I should get in shape before I start working out here,” you start thinking. What? That’s crazy. The reason you joined a gym was to get in shape.
The problem is, you have no idea where to even start. For guys, you know how you’re working out, then all of a sudden one of the yoked out dudes starts lifting heavy right next to you, then you foolishly decide to pile the weights on? You know you can’t lift that much weight! Just stop before you hurt yourself.
Or, for the women, you see these amazingly fit women in the gym. One of them comes over and starts working out right next to you. Here you are in your brand new workout outfit sitting on a machine and you’re thinking, “I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing” or “she must think I have no business here.”
The reality is that these are all extremely common thoughts that run through new gym members’ heads. There are many different pieces of equipment that can leave you feeling confused and (no pun intended) “maxed” out. Unfortunately, these feelings can interfere with your success. But there are ways to overcome gym intimidation and feel more comfortable when you’ve just joined a gym and are about to embark on your healthy lifestyle.
So You Just Joined a Gym: Here are 5 Helpful Tips to Get You Comfy There
1) Hire a Personal Trainer
Many a new member has expressed how overwhelmed they feel when they enter a gym for the first or even the twelfth time. Some have even confessed that they didn’t feel ready to train because they weren’t experienced or fit enough. I’ve also seen many members and clients avoid certain areas of a gym, especially where the free weights and squat racks are located because this equipment tends to require some experience and a certain level of fitness.
Most personal trainers are beyond passionate about helping. Many felt confused and intimidated at one point, so they can definitely relate and empathize. A trainer’s job is to help educate you, assess your abilities and create a safe, efficient program for you. One of the biggest highlights to come from training is that you’ll start to gain experience with many different types of equipment and exercises. And with experience, you will slowly but surely defeat gym intimidation and become a knowledgeable member who can navigate the gym freely.
2) Workout with a Friend
Grab a friend to work out at the gym with you! Ideally, you’ll choose a friend who knows a thing or two about working out. But no matter the experience level of this buddy, you’ll find that your gym experience is less intimidating if you can share your time with someone who cares for you. Friends can watch your form, make helpful suggestions and share ideas that they’ve learned from past gym training sessions. Bringing a friend also can hold you accountable and keep your gym attendance consistent, leading to better results!
3) Workout During “Off-hours”
Most gyms have off-hours and busy hours. Find out what time your gym seems to be the quietest and choose this period to get your feet wet as you try out unfamiliar exercises and machines.
4) Take a Group Exercise Class
Group exercise classes are usually part of your membership plan. They offer generalized instruction on different ways to work out, such as dance, spinning, yoga, kickboxing or plyometrics. As a trainer, I’d suggest taking a multitude of classes to increase your knowledge base, find what resonates with you and boost your motivation as you follow the instructor’s guidance.
5) Accept Your Gym Intimidation as Normal
Gym intimidation is a common experience that many gym members face. So realize that what you are possibly feeling is something that many others have gone through. Most gym members are not there to judge you…and if they do, are they truly worth your time or friendship investment? Many people have a limited amount time to work out. No one is paying the least bit of attention to the fact that you’re new or unfamiliar unless you ask for help. This is a fact! So you can go through your workout in peace, but find assistance if needed.
Remember: You joined a gym for you and not to please or impress others. Find the true purpose behind why you want to be healthier and focus on this each time you step into the gym. You deserve to be here and work out like everyone else each day!