Deal With Gym Intimidation

There are dozens of reasons why going to the gym is the right thing to do, and just as many excuses for why you don't go often enough. One excuse could be that you find the gym or gym members intimidating.

Overcome gym intimidation with these tips:

Fitness Fashion

In a place full of tight-fitting spandex and tummy-baring sports bras, knowing what to wear can be difficult. Of course any old pair of sweat pants and a t-shirt will do, but you don't have to spend a lot to dress properly for the gym and feel good about how you look. For women, a good sports bra is essential and everyone needs good quality shoes designed for the sport they'll be engaging in most. Cross trainers and running shoes work for most fitness activities, but some sports, like basketball, require specific shoes. Sweat pants, track pants, gym shorts, tank tops, and t-shirts work beautifully for most workouts.

Machine Madness

Treadmills, elliptical trainers, stair climbers, weight machines, and equipment that looks like it belongs in a torture chamber are intimidating to every gym newcomer. The best way to start at any gym is with a tour, orientation, and an introductory training session. Every gym is staffed with trained personal fitness experts who will teach you which equipment is appropriate for your fitness goals, how they work and safe techniques for starting out. Many gyms toss in the first training session for free.

Class Culture

Starting out at a gym or trying a new fitness class can make anyone feel like the last kid picked for a team. Don't let gym members who are at the head of the class intimidate you. Every gym member was new at one point. Ask a friend to go with you the first few times. Get to class a few minutes early and tell the instructor you're new. Ask her if her class is appropriate for beginners and where you should stand so you can see your instructor easily, but not feel like all eyes are on you. Then, grab your sense of humor and get started. If one particular class feels too advanced for you, try a few others until you find the right fit.

Budget Busters

Many gyms make their profit by selling gym-extras like long-term membership contracts, vitamins, supplements, and personal training packages. Some gyms are more aggressive and scary than others and will be the most persistent about making a sale during an introductory tour or initial sessions with a fitness trainer. Take a friend with you to help you withstand sales pressure. If you're not interested in buying extras, tell your gym representative right off the bat. Tell them if they're being too pushy or making you uncomfortable and be prepared to walk away.  Don't sign up for a membership or gym-extras until you're fully aware of what you're paying for. If you know you want extra personal fitness advice, but are intimidated by trainers' prices, ask about group training options or sign up for sessions you'll share with a friend.

Crowd Control

Gyms can be intimidating during peak hours when everybody wants the same machines, especially for newcomers who need more time or who aren't familiar with gym culture. Choose off-hours when the gym is less crowded so you can take your time getting to know how your gym works.

Mike Ceja, Certified Personal Trainer/Sports Therapist, reviewed this article.