For the first-time gym goer, it can be daunting walking into a gym and getting to grips with the equipment. In fact, a survey found that one-in-three people felt too self-conscious to join a gym at all. Even when newbies found the courage to sign up, a third of them were too embarrassed to use some types of equipment.
If you want to get fit but suffer from ‘gymtimidation’, it’s good to know that you’re not alone and that there are plenty of ways to overcome your fears.
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Find your perfect gym
The important thing to realise is that not all gyms are intimidating environments. Many are friendly and welcoming, and understand that new gymgoers can feel nervous about their initial visits. The trick is to sniff out which gym makes you feel the most comfortable. Ask around, look online and call up a few establishments until you find one that has just the right vibe. It’s worth knowing that some gyms are single sex only, or have sessions exclusively for newcomers.
Go with a pal
It’s easier to join a gym if you’re not alone, so team up with a like-minded chum to ease the stresses of gymphobia. A gym buddy is also great for motivation and can support you when using different types of equipment.
Get an induction
Many decent gyms understand that newcomers can feel intimidated at first, so look for one that offers an induction with a member of staff or personal trainer. They’ll show you around the gym and instruct you how to use different items of equipment, so you can get started with ease and confidence.
Shun self-conscious thoughts
A survey found that around one in four people avoid going to the gym as they worry that they’ll embarrass themselves in front of other users. It’s natural to think that everyone is looking at you when you first join a gym, but, in most cases, people are more concerned with their own workouts. If you’re overcome by feelings of self-consciousness, visit the gym at times when it’s not busy, or take part in a fitness class where you can blend in easily. Listening to music as you exercise is also a great strategy for keeping negative self-conscious thoughts at bay.
Avoid making comparisons
Many new gym users struggle with confidence issues when they join a gym as they compare themselves to other members who appear fitter, can do more reps or have bigger muscles, etc. In fact, almost a quarter of people think they’re not fit enough to join a gym. Yet, making that first step into the gym is a real achievement in itself.
Comparing yourself to others is a fruitless task. Everybody has to start somewhere with their fitness goals, so even someone who appears super fit might have once been like you when they started out. Set fitness goals that suit your individual circumstances and acknowledge any personal achievements to boost your confidence.
Have a plan
You’ll exude confidence the moment you walk in a gym if you know what you intend to do once you get in there. Decide beforehand what equipment you want to focus on, or what class you want to take. Do a little background research online beforehand, looking at video tutorials on the best techniques for using the equipment, if you haven’t already been given guidance from a personal trainer.