Are you thinking about going to the gym but you can’t quite get over the feeling of gymtimidation? Whether you’re male or female, younger or older, in great shape or not, chances are good that at one time or another, you’ve been a little uncomfortable setting foot in a gym.
Can you get past this feeling and step out of your comfort zone? Or, are you doomed to feeling forever uncomfortable at the mere thought of going to the gym?
It’s Not Just You
It’s not just you, it’s me. Well, actually, it’s all of us. Just so you know, “FOWO” (fear of working out) is a real thing, and most folks, even the most experienced gym enthusiasts, can feel a little intimidated when walking into a new gym or trying out a new exercise. It’s natural to feel a little unease when you don’t know anyone, you don’t know what to expect, and you’re not familiar with the lay of the land.
So, what can you do to reduce that “gymtimidation” and get yourself into the gym?
8 Ways to Fight Off “Gymtimidation”
1. Go to the Right Gym
Not all gyms are the same. If you’re a beginner, for example, then joining a hardcore bodybuilding gym might not be your best move. Or, if you want to build muscle and do a fitness competition, your local Orangetheory Fitness or aquatics center may not be focused enough for you. While there are many factors to consider when choosing a gym, such as price, location and distance, parking and hours, one of the most important things to decide is if this is the type of gym for you.
Take a moment to decide what your fitness goals are. Would you enjoy an atmosphere that is perhaps a women’s-only gym? Do you prefer a tennis-club like atmosphere, or are you into circuit training? Would you rather engage in a group fitness program like a Burn Boot Camp or a Barre Fitness class? All of these things will help you make a decision as to which gym you may want to choose, and the gym you decide on will directly affect your level of comfort when working out. Feeling like you belong is step number one.
2. Start with a Personal Trainer
Before venturing out on your own into new gym territory, it might be a good idea to get a tour guide. Many gyms employ personal trainers and often, when you first join a gym, you may even have a few complementary sessions with a trainer to get you acclimated to the setup of the gym and the various equipment.
Whether you take advantage of the free personal trainer sessions or you decide to hire a personal trainer, having someone show you the lay of the land will go a long way toward alleviating the discomfort of facing something new.
Another benefit to going the personal trainer route is that they can help you reach your goals by designing a workout program for you, and they can show you how to use the equipment properly, which is very important when it comes to exercise and to boosting your self-confidence in the gym.
3. Go to the Gym with a Friend
Avoiding the crowds is a surefire way to reduce the stress level surrounding a visit to the gym. Usually, gyms are busiest before work (between 6 and 8 AM) and after the typical workday (5 – 7 PM). Going to the gym outside of these hours can help you lessen the feeling of gymtimidation and will give you a chance to try out the equipment and browse around without feeling out of place.
4. Have a Workout Planned in Advance
You’ve heard the old adage, “failing to plan is planning to fail.” Well, this is also true when it comes to your comfort level in the gym. Planning out your workout in advance will give you a sense of purpose and direction. At a time when you may already be feeling lost in the facility, having a plan of action in your hands will make you feel better instantly.
Knowing in advance what you’re going to be doing when you walk in the door will automatically give you confidence. And, you won’t have time to wander around wondering what’s next. You’ll simply go through your list and do the exercises on it. You’ll look like you know what you’re doing, and that alone will make you feel more comfortable in the gym setting.
5. Make a Workout Playlist for the Gym
Music makes everything better, and the right songs can really make your workout rock. Plus, it’s easy to get into the zone and stay in your own world (and not worry about what other people are thinking) when you’re feeling motivated by your favorite tunes!
6. The More You Work Out, the Easier It Gets
Familiarity and repetition will give you more confidence in the gym as time goes on. Once you get into the habit of getting yourself to the gym as part of your normal routine, you’ll start to be seen as a “regular,” and people will both pay less attention to you and simultaneously may befriend you as well. Again, having some friends at the gym will go a long way toward getting around any gymtimidation you may be feeling.
7. Try Group Fitness
Blending into the crowd may be a good way to boost your confidence and get you in the gym initially. If you’re new on the scene, find out when group fitness classes are held and slide into the back of the room. Before you know it, you’ll be making friends and having fun.
8. Get Some New Workout Clothes
You know how good you feel when you know you’re looking good with a great new outfit and you just stepped out of the salon? Well, it’s time to recreate that sassy feeling. Get yourself some funky new exercise outfits for the gym. And, remember, it’s okay to fake it until you make it.
How to Fight off Gymtimidation: A Recap
Now that you have some ways to circumvent gymtimidation, you can cross that excuse off your list. Employing some of these suggestions should have you feeling confident in your fitness surroundings in no time. And, once that hurdle has been achieved, you can focus your energy on more important things like health and fitness goals, motivation, and progress!