If you’ve never stepped foot inside a gym before, it can feel a lot like the first time you walked onto your high school campus. You’re not sure really what to expect when you get there, what the people are going to be like, or where anything is – you’re just kind of thrown into the mix. Walking around aimlessly with no direction and surrounded by much bigger people can be really intimidating and overwhelming for anyone. But with anything in life, you have to start somewhere if you want to move forward. The gym is no exception. With a hundred different machines, and half a dozen difference cardio equipment that you’ve never even seen before, it can be pretty intimidating. The first time I walked into a real gym I was very uncomfortable. I felt like everybody knew I was the new girl and had me under a microscope. I didn’t know where anything was or how to properly use it. Luckily though, these days most gyms will offer you a physical assessment to see where you’re at, go over your fitness goals and how you can reach them, show you where all the equipment is located, and answer all your questions regarding fitness and nutrition. This alone will take a lot of stress off of you and make you feel more welcome, so be sure to take advantage of this free perk. I want to share some tips with you that helped me with this perfectly normal fear and hopefully change your thoughts about the gym. So lets get started!
#1 Start With Cardio
Most people that want to start going to a gym go because they want to lose weight and live a healthier life. Cardio exercise will take care of both of these reasons and can also be good for what I call “people watching.” My first day at the gym I really just wanted to do cardio and get a feel for the atmosphere. I found it to be a great way to look around and teach myself how to use a lot of the workout equipment properly by just watching others exercise. As I was sweating away on the treadmill, I’d watch how people were moving things around, how the flow of the machine went and how much they rested in between each set. If I wasn’t sure how to use something that I wanted to I just went over to a trainer and asked them if they could show me how. Most people who work at gyms are very helpful and won’t make you feel like they’re judging you. Over time, you’ll start getting “hello’s” and waves from the ‘regulars’ and will become a part of the crowd.
#2 Avoid Peak Hours
Every gym is different, so calling ahead before choosing a gym and asking the front desk attendant when their peak times are can really help you see what gym will compliment your schedule. Most gyms that I’ve gone to are a lot slower in the mornings than at night, especially during the work week. Afternoons between 12pm – 4pm everyday are usually the slowest point of the day, and night time after 6pm – forget it. This is usually the busiest time of day for most gyms and personally, I try to avoid this time. Going when there aren’t a lot of people can help make your transition a lot smoother and less intimidating, making it more effective to get a good workout in.
#3 Take a Class
Group classes are a good way to meet new people who all have the same interest as you. Classes should be free and included in your gym membership so take advantage of this when you find yourself in a fitness rut. Switching the scenery up can increase your endorphins (making you feel happier), get you over a plateau, and give you back some motivation you may have lost out in the weight room doing the same things everyday. Keep things fun and fresh by constantly challenging your mind and body. Try something you’ve always wanted to, such as yoga, kick boxing or zumba. There are so many options for you at the gym – more than you will ever find at home, outside or on the couch.
#4 Don’t Compare Your Body to Other People
Comparing yourself to others in itself can be intimidating, so don’t do it. Everyone, even that insanely toned woman over there in the corner, has their own insecurities and even she had to start where you are. You’re body is beautiful, and will become more and more beautiful (and healthy) after every workout session you do. When you are at the gym, stay focused on your goals and your own personal accomplishments. Focusing on other people, especially women who have the body you want, will just slow you down and discourage you, making you feel inadequate and defeated. We have enough to worry about – raising kids, being a good wife, cleaning the house, finances, etc. Don’t put more on your plate than is necessary. Before you know it you’re going to catch a girl looking at you (in a good way) and you’ll then realize how far you’ve come. Stay focused on you and never look back!
#5 Take a Friend or Family Member
Having a support team and being surrounded by people that you know makes anything easier. If you have a friend that has been toying with the thought of going to the gym, now’s the time to take the bull by the horns and make her join – with you. When I first started out I had three coworkers join with me. It became a fun, healthy competition and a good way to re-energize our relationships. It’s also good for those days when you need an extra push because you don’t feel like going. Walking into the gym with a familiar face near by will make anyone feel more at ease. So call up your best girlfriend, your favorite cousin, or your neighbor and see what they’re doing to lose weight. If they have some free time and need some motivation, offer them a permanent ‘gym buddy’ – you. 🙂
“To worry is like rocking in a rocking chair. It gives us something to do, but gets us nowhere.” ~ unknown
How long have you been putting the gym off? Do you think you’ll give it a try after reading this? Let me know, I’d love to hear if this helped you at all. Leave me a comment/question below.