You’ve decided to take your wellness journey seriously and join a gym. There’s just one problem: you’re not comfortable working out in front of other people. Whatever the reason may be, the stress and anxiety at the thought of being in a gym is enough to keep you away.
Maybe you’re out of shape due to a lack of exercise. Maybe you’ve gained weight and are worried about people staring at you. Perhaps you have no clue how to use the weight machines and equipment. Maybe you’re intimidated by fit people you see in the gym. It could be that you simply have no idea what to do when you get there. You just know you’re going to embarrass yourself.
Want in on a secret? You’re not alone.
One thing is for sure: you won’t get over your own hang-ups if you don’t work at it.
You CAN feel free and comfortable in the gym. Don’t let gym intimidation stop you from working out. Here are some recommendations to get you started on your journey to a fitter you:
It’s all in your head
The majority of gym goers experience apprehension for one reason or another. In one study, nearly 65% of women admit to avoiding the gym due to anxiety or fear of being judged. Some people are better at hiding it, and other people have been able to move on from their insecurities. However, the same study found that you’re about twice as likely to feel like you’re being judged, than you are to actually be judged.
Chances are: unless someone is making a point of making you uncomfortable, they aren’t judging you at all. You could actually be their source of motivation!
Remember why you’re going to the gym, and write down your goals.
Whether you’re trying to get in better shape for a specific event or making a dedicated effort to take control of your health, write down your “why”. Avoiding illness? Class reunion coming up? Wedding? Making sure you’re healthy enough to be there for your loved ones? What is your Big Why?
Whatever the reason, write it down and put your “why” somewhere you can see it regularly.
Then, set SMART goals and refer to them regularly. SMART goals are:
This is a proven system that you can apply to almost any aspect of your life. You can find a fitness-specific template here, or get creative and make your own. Make sure you have short-term and long-term goals.
Reminding yourself why you need to go to the gym and having set goals and timelines will keep you focused. You’ll be less likely to talk yourself out of the gym if you remember why you need to go.
Find the right gym
Unless you live in a very rural or isolated area, chances are you have several gym options to choose from. Price, hours of operation, and location will all play a role in your decision – but those shouldn’t be the only factors. Some gyms cater to hardcore fitness enthusiasts, while others specifically target the average Joe. There are even female-only gyms!
Make an appointment for a tour of the facility. Try to go during the time of day you expect to be exercising to get an idea of how many people will be there. Do they offer a free consultation or a trial membership for free? If so, take advantage of it to familiarize yourself with the equipment and personnel.
A gym’s culture and atmosphere can vary a lot from location to location and even by the time of day. You’ll just need to do some research to get started.
For more tips on choosing the right gym, give this article a quick read.
Get a workout buddy
There is strength in numbers! Having a workout partner increases your odds of success in SO MANY ways! First of all, you’re less likely to bail on a workout if you’re meeting someone. Secondly, unless you’re at vastly different fitness levels, you’re both going to be struggling together.
Chances are that you know someone who is in the same spot as you are, fitness-wise. If not, ask the gym manager if anyone is looking for a workout buddy. Make a commitment to each other and yourselves to hold each other accountable. You’ll feel more comfortable when you’re not alone, and you can cheer each other on.
Another great place to find a workout buddy and make friends is in the exercise classes offered by your gym.
Don’t go to the gym without a plan
When you fail to plan, plan to fail. If you walk into the gym without a plan of action, you’ll probably spend most of your time there deciding what to do than actually working out. This will only make you feel more self-conscious.
Use a workout journal, an app on your phone, or download a template from the internet. Find a plan that is realistic, but challenging given your current level of fitness. Some gyms even have mobile apps specific to their equipment and locations!
Here are some sources to help you in this area;
- Fitness Blender
- PopSugar’s printable workouts
- Women’s Health Magazine’s printable workouts
- Daily Burn– 7 Day free trial
Bottom line: You can totally do this. Don’t let a lack of planning, accountability, or fear of being judged keep you from doing what you need to do. YOU are in control – you’ve just got to start somewhere and make it happen! We all start as beginners.