Have you ever walked into a gym and then slowly crept back out, springing for the car once those intimidating doors close? Yup. I’ve done it.
The very first time I walked into a gym, I looked around at the bulging muscles, intense contorting faces, and puddles of sweat and immediately though Nope. Nope. And More Nope. And out the door I went.
It can be pretty intimidating walking into a gym especially when you have no idea what your goals are or what the heck half the machines in the gym even do. But don’t worry, keep calm, chug that cup of coffee, and read these tips that will hopefully make your first time at the gym (or at a new gym) a little less scary.
Okay before we even step our little toesies in the gym, it’s a good idea to figure out what your goals are. Do you need to lose weight? Are you looking to tone up? Trying to deadlift 315 by tomorrow? Okay, maybe that last one is a little far-fetched but you get the idea. Having a goal in mind is not only going to help you navigate the gym but also will help you select the gym that best suits you. There are gyms that only offer group classes, gyms designed for olympic and powerlifting, Yoga and Pilates studios, CrossFit “boxes”, and your regular ol’ gyms that have a wide array of equipment. Whatever your needs, get those figured out first so you can approach the appropriate gym that fits your criteria.
2. HAVING THE “TALK”
So you have now figured out the gym you want to go to. The next step is to actually get in your car and head on down to the old iron station. When you walk in don’t panic, head straight for the front desk and have the talk. And by talk, I mean tell the guy at the desk you are interested in signing up for a membership. NOW, before you commit to putting your hard earned coin into this specific facility, consider asking several pertinent questions like: What classes do you offer? What are the gym hours? Can I have a tour of the facility? That last one is key. Ask to have a tour. TRUST ME, nothing feels more embarrassing than going for your first workout and spending half the time wandering around trying to find equipment you saw in that one YouTube video that one time (it’s even more embarrassing when you spend the whole time looking for that piece of equipment only to realize your gym doesn’t even have it…). Having one of the employees take you around will give you a chance to scope out the place and find those pieces of equipment without looking like a deer caught in the headlights. Plus, it helps you find all your exits. Ya know, just in case.
3. GET YOUR GAME PLAN
Congratulations! You’ve officially made a commitment to go out with the gym and now you’re getting ready for your first date at the bar (see what I did there? Olympic bar joke anyone? Just me? Okay…). Before you do ANYTHING, get out ya phone and plan, plan, plan.
Did I mention plan?
Seriously though, it makes no sense to go to the gym without at least a general idea of what you plan to accomplish. You can’t take a test you didn’t study for and expect to know what the heck is going on. Trust me, I’ve tried and I don’t recommend it. You don’t want to dive head first into the gym with a rallying battle cry only to come out an hour later not even sure what the heck you just did.
So to avoid roaming the gym in a confused daze – figure out what you want to do. Strength train? Cardio? HIIT? It can literally be anything (maybe not unicycling but ya know – practically anything) but make sure you know ahead of time. Look up Youtube videos of workouts you want to do and see what machines/weights they are using and replicate it in the gym. Write down a workout routine on your phone so you know what to do next. (If you are really REALLY unsure of proper form or what to do in the gym consider getting a trainer to ensure you don’t injure yourself! Or ask a friend who knows stuff) You can also read articles (like this one and the many others I have) and get ya plan on.
4. GRAB YA KIDS, GRAB YA WIVES – GRAB ER’R BODY
Let me tell you a story. The very first gym I went to, I went alone. I didn’t ask the front desk employee for a tour or any questions I had burning in my mind about that gym life. I just signed my life away and went ham on the weights. JK. I did not go ham on the weights. I went straight for the cardio machines and stayed there forever and ever. I was too scared to try any of the machines for fear of failure and judgment AND I was clueless and alone. The keyword here is alone. If you know someone else who is also new to the gym game or is looking for a gym buddy (craigslist anyone?) then grab a friend and bring them with you. Trust me, it’s not nearly as intimidating to mindless wander the gym if you use the buddy system. Plus, it’s just more fun to do it with someone else – especially when they’re great at being cheerleaders! OR, if you have a friend who is already super awesome at gymming, then go with them and they can show you the ropes.
5. THINGS TO REMEMBER
It honestly doesn’t matter whether you weigh 300 lbs or have rock hard abs or weigh 300 lbs AND have rock hard abs. Going into a gym for the first time is scary. period. BUT there are a few mental notes you can take that will help alleviate some of the fear and keep you from sprinting to the door like the zombie apocalypse just started. Unless it did because then I suggest running.
- Everyone is scared. Most people in the gym carry some of the same fears you do. Do I look okay doing this exercise? Am I sweating too much? Does my face look weird when I lift? Everyone has insecurities and chances are they are more focused on their own then on you and how you look. So relax because we are all in the same boat.
- Most people aren’t looking at you. I always wonder if anyone is staring at me and making judgments. Not because I think I’m so hot that people should look, but I just wonder who’s peeping around. The reality is most of the time people are focusing on their on workout and are hardly (if at all) paying attention to you. Look, we are all here to get our fitness on (hopefully) so don’t worry about others silently judging you while you pump some iron.
- We are rooting for you. I can speak on this personally. When I see people at the gym going hard, whether they have 100 lbs to lose or are bulking the hell up, I am so proud of them. Trust me, I’m silently cheering them on in my head. You have to remember you made the commitment to go to the gym. You’re here – that’s awesome! And people are rooting for you to succeed. So get in there and kill it!
- We all have been beginners. No one walks into the gym shredded and perfect. And if that’s you – go home. you’re done. Just kidding! Really though, we all have been the beginner and the great thing about that is everyone else at the gym gets it. So even if you are cluelessly staring at a machine trying to read the gibberish of instructions on the little side panel – we get it.
- Gym people are actually pretty nice. It might seem like everyone who is lifting weights is mean and aggressive, but it’s really not the case. I know, I know the crazy lifting faces and obscene grunting might make us seem like a pack of wildebeest, but honestly people are pretty nice. If you have questions about a machine or need help don’t be afraid to ask. Most of often people are totally willing to help and usually like being asked questions. It makes them feel good too.
So there you have it – some pretty sweet tips on how to hopefully (fingers crossed) relieve some of your pre-gym fears. If you’ve got some personal gym fear alleviating tips feel free to comment below! The more the merrier am I right? Also, share this articles with ya friends, ya husbands, ya wives, ya er’r body because they could be experiencing the same fears.
And if nothing else, just know I’m rooting for you. You can do it! Now get out and there and get in that gym!