Going to the gym can be scary, especially if you’re new to exercise, but it doesn’t have to be and you don’t have to be full of fear about venturing into an environment where people are actually trying to better themselves, but if you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you are.
Well don’t worry, in this article, I am going to tell you exactly how to overcome that fear and give you some top tips to help overcome the obstacles that are stopping you from working out.
Pick the Right Gym for You
Not all gyms are created equally and it’s important that you pick the right exercise environment for you. First off you need to decide on what type of exercise you prefer.
Is lifting weights with heavy metal music blaring in the background your type of thing or do you prefer the camaraderie of exercise classes and the variety that brings?
Do you enjoy spinning in a dimly lit studio or do you like to push your limits with HIIT and Bootcamp workouts?
If you’re not quite sure, most gyms offer a free trial, so take them up on that and see what you enjoy the most, but don’t just become a member at the nearest gym if actually, it’s completely wrong for you. You may be happy joining your local planet fitness but do your research first.
Attend an Induction
Once you’ve selected the gym it’s time for an induction. Most gyms make inductions mandatory, but not all, some gyms are now offering online inductions and some just make you sign a waiver before letting you loose in the gym.
You should insist on attending one in your gym of choice and ensure you come armed with questions. Where things are, how things work, what are the busy times, what’s the atmosphere like, are there rules you need to know?
These are all things you need to know as they can help make your exercise experience much more enjoyable. But it’s also important that you’re shown how to use the equipment safely and correctly and that you actually feel confident when using it.
Do a Walkthrough
If your schedule allows you to work out at different times then here I’d advise visiting the gym at those times and seeing for yourself.
You might prefer weights, but find that at peak time you can’t find a dumbbell to do one measly lunge.
You may love to run and enjoy using the treadmill but you could be left wanting as the early morning cardio crowd get it in before work and take up all the machines.
It can be stressful getting to the gym only to find it overrun with people making it harder to actually work out. By testing it for yourself first, you’ll at least have an idea about which times work best for you and which times you should definitely avoid.
Bring a Friend
Having a friend with you can make everything easier and that’s true when going to the gym, even better if that friend is experienced or already a regular gym-goer. Agree on what you will be doing, meet in the carpark and then walk in, workout and leave together. A familiar face will help you to feel more comfortable and at ease and will definitely help you yo relax your nerves about going to the gym.
Follow a Plan
Once you’re in the gym have a clear plan of what you’re doing that day and wherever possible, also have a back up just in case the gym is full and you can’t do your usual workouts.
Don’t wing it in the gym, you should be clear on what you’re doing so you don’t end up wasting time looking for equipment or talking yourself out of the workout as you try to figure out what to do next.
I also recommend having alternatives workouts that you can do instead, just as a backup plan.
These can be simple and don’t need to be over-complicated but again, they do need to be clear, just like the original plan.
If your workout is cardio-based and requires you to do 30 minutes on the treadmill, have a ready-made replacement that you can do instead, 30 minutes on the elliptical or the exercise bike is simple enough.
If your normal workout requires you to use a barbell, use dumbbells or a kettlebell instead.
But whatever the replacement is, have it ready to go in the back of your mind and be clear about what it is so that if you arrive at the gym and your equipment of choice is in use, you still have something to do.
It’s easy to get sidetracked in the gym. You might see someone you know, spend longer than usual trying to find the right equipment or you might waste time trying to find the perfect song on your playlist, the key, however, is to remain focused on yourself and your goals.
Focusing on your own objectives is a great way to keep your mind on track, not to mention it also helps you to forget about everyone else in the gym.
A common example is someone doing something that you cant, maybe lifting heavier or working harder, which has the ability to make you lose focus and to people-watch instead.
Forget everyone else and immerse yourself in your own workout, it will help you to stay in the moment and to remain focused on your own goals.
Being anxious in the gym is more common than you think and plenty of people feel that way, but it doesn’t have to be so.
A gym is a place where you go to work on yourself, whether that be physically or emotionally and it should be a welcoming environment for all.
People get self-conscious for a whole host of reasons, whether that’s because they can't lift as much as someone else or they don’t look the same as them but the truth is everyone there is fighting their own personal battle and is working on their own personal goals.
When you go to the gym use the tips above and focus on your own progress, not anyone else you will start to see results. In some cases, it might sound easy but the truth of the matter is it works.
By using headphones to help you get into the zone and following a solid plan with structure and purpose, you will soon become engrossed in what you are doing and you won't think as much about anyone else.
As time moves on you will get better, stronger, fitter and healthier and as the environment becomes more familiar you will start to make new friends, work with people that are where you want to be and you may even act as a role model for someone else that comes to the gym but is also worried and shy as they see that actually, there is another option to anxiety and fear.
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