You're Intimidated By Gyms

Updated: Jan 28, 2019

You’re intimidated by gyms. I get it, I understand, I really do. To be honest, that probably begins before you even get there. For most people, it’s a big decision to make, the decision to try and change your life, so that’s already a pretty daunting prospect. And for most people, it’s also way out of their comfort zone. It might be the first time you’re going to a gym at all, or at least a new gym, so you’ll be unaware of your surroundings, the equipment, the people. The most important thing to remember is that many of your fellow gym goers are in exactly the same position as you, or at least they were. Most people aren’t there to judge you, in fact they’re probably more concerned with what they’re doing than anything else. Yes, there are some idiots out there, but I’ve found the majority of people to be very friendly and helpful. I mean, I wouldn’t go around pestering everyone, all the time, and headphones are usually a big ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign, but the odd question about a piece of equipment, or an exercise someone is doing, is perfectly fine. And the staff, the personal trainers, are usually there to pick up the slack as well. So here are some tips to help you.

Firstly, it sounds simple, but make sure you know the layout of your gym. Go in, have a walk around, familiarise yourself with everything. Because really, most people are on the edge, looking for an excuse to quit. Exercise is hard, changing your body is hard, and people don’t like hard. Not these days. So stumbling into the wrong place, getting yourself turned around, losing your place during a workout, all these things can be triggers that set off that quitting alarm.

Secondly, have an induction with a personal trainer, and listen to what you’re told. Not knowing how to use the equipment, or doing the same boring stuff every time you go, is a great way to discourage yourself long term. The equipment often looks a lot scarier and more complicated than it really is. Ask someone about it, if you’re unsure. Ask someone what they’re doing, if it interests you.

But, that leads me onto my third point. Leave your ego at the door. You may try and combat your unease with a sense of bravado, or worse, try and copy what the person next to you is doing. Don’t do this. You have no idea what stage of their training they’re at, and they will have started off at the beginning like all of us. That’s where you start, take it slow, and ease yourself into any training. It’s already difficult enough without you killing yourself, or injuring yourself early on, because you tried something you were nowhere near ready for. And then it’s back to can’t train, won’t train. You may find you progress fairly quickly to begin with, but this will slow down, and it’s important that you listen to your body. You’re going at your own pace, no one else's.

Also, try the classes, if you’re still worried. You don’t have to worry about what to do, or plan anything, and the people and trainers are usually really friendly and welcoming. Apart from the fact that there’s safety in numbers, you’ll probably feel less in the spotlight, and there’s a sense of community. Plus, the classes often feature quite a wide variety of exercises too, so not only will you be building your own database of exercises, but you’ll be hitting as much of your body as you should be. And you have someone qualified there to guide you.

So, in summary, gyms seem like intimidating places, but really they’re not, that’s mostly your mind playing tricks on you. Everyone’s there to work on themselves. Yes, including the loud, grunting hulks in the free weights section. They won’t bite either. Remember, scope everything out, ask questions and listen to the answers, work at your own pace and leave your ego at home, and just try to make yourself as comfortable as possible, so you’ll be encouraged to come back. And hopefully, you’ll come back next week, and listen to my next entry. Seeya then.

Dan Miller

Body Fuel Personal Fitness Trainer