Ready to Join a Gym but You’re Scared

Working out at a gym can be intimidating. You feel like everyone seems to know what they are doing and are already in great shape – you’re worried you’ll look like you don’t belong and maybe people will think you have no right to be there. The cavernous space is filled with mysterious equipment and people are grunting in exertion. It is all very strange and unfamiliar, making you wonder “Where do I start?” or “Will someone laugh at me if I do something wrong?”

Don’t let your fears keep you from exercising at the gym. Here are 7 tips on how to overcome gym intimidation:

1. Set Up an Orientation

Unsure of how to use the machines, or where certain equipment is located? Many gyms offer a free orientation to new members – if this option is not presented, all you have to do is ask for it. During the orientation, a staff member will show you how to properly use the equipment and this one-on-one opportunity will also be great time to ask any other questions. And remember it won’t be the only time you can ask for help…anytime you’re unsure or curious about something just ask the staff – that’s what they’re there for.

2. Find Common Ground

Start by doing something you know. Do you ride your bike a lot or go for walks/runs? Putting your knowledge and familiarity with these activities to use will help you feel more confident in what you are doing. So start your workout sessions with just the bike or treadmill, it’s okay if you don’t do anything else during your gym visits. After a few sessions in the gym environment, your confidence will grow.

3. Train with a Friend

Working out with a friend can help ease the culture shock of working out at the gym. Tap into your friend’s knowledge and ask for help with the equipment or advice on how to do a certain exercise. Chatting with your friend about these things is a great distraction from your fear and will help get you moving comfortably in the space a lot sooner.

4. Hire a Personal Trainer

Working one-on-one with a personal trainer can be helpful in learning about proper form and technique. They will create a workout plan based on your goals and designed to suit your abilities, and they can guide, coach and encourage you through it. A certified personal trainer is one way to get you on a path towards the results you want – that’s how the celebrities do it. However, if you’re dealing with a nagging injury (or pain), consult a health professional like a physiotherapist to ensure your intended workout regimen will help and not hurt you.

5. Take a Group Class

Most gyms offer a wide variety of group lessons that take the guesswork out of coming up with a fitness routine. The instructor will demonstrate the moves, tell you how many repetitions to do and provide motivation. All you need to do is show up…how easy is that?!

6. Dress Comfortably

If you don’t feel comfortable in tight or form-fitting workout clothes then don’t wear them. You want to feel comfortable, not self-conscious. Not sure what to wear? Dress for ease of movement, nothing bulky or heavy. However, given the current size of the active-wear industry, it’s pretty much a certainty that there’s a perfect outfit out there for any shape and size. Finding the right active-look can put you in the right frame of mind to exercise so go find your gear.

7. Choose Off-Peak times

It’s very frustrating when you’re trying to stick your tight schedule or you’re in a rhythm with your workout and you have to wait to use a piece of equipment at the gym. Generally, the busiest times at the gym are early morning, lunch hour and right after work. So, if it’s possible for you to schedule your workouts outside of the busy hours you’ll have a more seamless (and hopefully more enjoyable) workout. Not only will you be able to go through your routine more efficiently, you’ll also avoid any wandering eyes that are waiting in line to use the same piece of equipment you just got a hold of.

Getting used to the atmosphere at the gym can take some time but if you stay the course and maintain your commitment, the end result is a healthier you – which is worth it. So be patient with yourself and try out these tips if want to hit the gym but are struggling to get over your fear. And remember, your fear is often a liar – once you start you’ll realize all that worry was for nothing. Good luck with your journey to a healthier you.

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