It can be intimidating to go to the gym for the first time. All that unfamiliar equipment, the unknown rules and etiquette, and people with fit, toned bodies you’d kill for. You feel out of place, and think everyone will be staring at you. But you’re not alone. Everyone has to start somewhere, so stop letting your fear hold you back from following your exercise plan. Of course, learning to overcome these uncomfortable feelings isn’t easy. Here are a few tips to help you keep your gym phobia in perspective and start working towards getting the body you want…
Identify your fear
First, try to figure out what it is exactly that makes you feel uncomfortable. Is it being surrounded by people who seem fitter and in better shape than you? Or is it that you’re not sure how to use any of the equipment, and are worried about looking stupid? There are lots of different reasons why people fear the gym, and working out exactly what yours are can help you to solve them. Write down the things you’re worried about and keep them in mind while reading the following bits of advice.
Choose the right gym
There are plenty of different kinds of gyms. Once you know what it is you want, you can start looking around for the type of gym that will suit you best. Maybe you’re more interested in group classes, or there is particular equipment you want to use. Remember, you don’t have to join the first gym you look at. There are even women-only or men-only gyms that might make you feel more comfortable. So look around and choose a gym that is open when you want to go, offers the facilities you want to use, and has an atmosphere that will make you feel comfortable. If you enjoy your workout and feel like you’re in a positive environment, you will get so much more out of your gym experience.
Build your confidence
Now that you’ve chosen a gym, it’s time to work on your mindset. The most important thing is to feel confident and comfortable with yourself, so that you can concentrate on your workout and gain more from the experience. Here are a few ways to build up your confidence at the gym:
Get oriented. Actually knowing how to use some of those confusing machines will boost your confidence considerably. Most gyms will automatically offer new members a free orientation session, where a trainer will personally show you around and teach you how to use the machines. Often they will even write up an exercise program for you to follow next time. This is a great way to gain confidence in the gym and feel more comfortable showing up for your workouts.
Hire a personal trainer. If you still want more personal attention after your orientation session, think about hiring a personal trainer. They can set you up with a workout tailored to your goals and help to support and encourage you while you complete each exercise. With someone by your side making sure you’re doing everything right, you’ll be less likely to worry about what other people are thinking.
Stop comparing. Easier said than done, but try to focus on yourself, rather than constantly comparing your body to everyone else in the gym. Their level of fitness is irrelevant to your own personal development- worrying about how you measure up next to them will only slow you down. Concentrate on your own workout- listen to music or watch the TVs while you exercise so you’re not always checking out other people. If you can’t help but notice other people’s bodies you admire, try to use it as inspiration and motivation other than a source of negativity. If you keep going, you’ll start to see results, and one day even get the body of your dreams.
Ask for help. If you’re not sure if you’re doing something correctly, or want to try out a new machine, just ask a staff member. Most gyms will have trainers on hand who are just waiting for someone to ask them questions. Remember, exercise is their passion- so more often than not they’ll be willing to share their expertise.
Bring a friend. It’s always easier to do something with the support of a friend. Having company while you workout is a good way to stay relaxed and confident during your exercise routine. You probably have friends who would love to get fit but have put off joining the gym for the same reasons you have. Take the plunge together and the experience will be much more enjoyable and rewarding.
Go during quiet hours. Ask the staff what the busiest and quietest hours usually are, and pick times that will avoid the crowds. You don’t need someone standing over you asking when you’re going to be finished on the treadmill! Less people means you can just quietly go about your workout at your own pace, without worrying as much about what everyone else is doing.
Keep going. The first few times are going to be the hardest. There probably will be times when you feel stupid, when you do something wrong or find yourself worrying about what other people think. But the more you go, the easier it will get and the more confident you will be. Just try to push past the initial awkwardness and you’ll soon be much more comfortable with the whole routine.
Find other ways to work out
If you really can’t kick your gym phobia, that doesn’t mean you can’t work out. There are plenty of other ways you can exercise without joining a standard gym. You can quite easily set up your own home gym by looking for second-hand equipment. Or, you can use workout videos, or take up jogging, walking, or cycling. There are so many options, so as long as you make sure you are somehow sticking to a good, healthy exercise plan, you’ll be well on track to reaching your weight loss goals.