You made a resolution to exercise more this year – congratulations! If joining a gym is part of that commitment but you’re a bit overwhelmed about walking in the door, know that you’re not alone. Many gym newcomers are a bit intimidated at the start.
One of the biggest concerns of first-time gym-goers is that everyone will be watching and you’ll stick out like a sore thumb, but that’s usually not the case. Most people at the gym are solely focused on their own actions and goals. They won’t be looking at you unless you give them a good reason to.
If you’re feeling self-conscious or are concerned that you’ll draw attention to the fact that you’re a newbie, here are some tips for easing the transition and working out like a pro (even if you’re a newbie):
First, Choose The Right Gym
Before you join, do some research and take a tour of the facilities you’re interested in to see if it’s the type of place you will feel comfortable in. Are you looking for a gym that provides classes or just a clean place with a good variety of equipment? All women’s gym or one that specializes in a specific sport? Each gym has a different atmosphere so find one that’s right for you. Some gyms may even let you try out the gym for a few days or a week.
Have A Staff Member Show You Around
Nothing screams “newbie” more than getting lost at the gym. Not only could this be embarrassing and possibly de-motivate from coming back, but learning the lay of the land with a staff guided tour can also make your visit safer for yourself and your fellow gym goers by knowing what’s off limits and what’s not.
This will help you become familiar with where everything is and will give you an opportunity to ask questions about how to use equipment or address any concerns you may have. Some gyms will even provide you with a free introductory personal training session.
Follow Basic Gym Etiquette
One way to draw attention to yourself is to not follow basic rules of the gym. Always wipe down machines and equipment after you use them (nobody likes sweaty handles). Put weights back where you found them. Don’t stay on equipment longer than allowed, especially if people are waiting. Don’t hover if you’re waiting for someone else to finish. Don’t show up late for classes or talk over the instructor. And be sure to dress appropriately.
Start With What You Can Do Comfortably
If you don’t want eyes turning to watch you, don’t overdo it. Instead, start slowly and progress as your body is ready. This prevents things like dropping weights that are too heavy or flying off the treadmill because you set the speed too high.
Show Up At Off-Peak Times
If a busy gym feels too overwhelming, try going during off-peak hours when there aren’t as many people around and you might feel less self conscious about working out in a new setting.
Go With A Friend
Having a workout buddy often makes people feel less intimidated. You’ll have someone by your side that is on your side. Knowing another person is counting on you to show up makes also make it more likely that you’ll do so, even if you’re feeling a bit uneasy at first. Over time, you’ll become a gym pro and working out will become second nature.