Your intentions are good, you’ve signed up for a gym membership and you’re looking forward to getting in shape, but when you walk on to the gigantic gymnasium floor filled with unfamiliar equipment and buff bodies, suddenly you feel small and, at the same time, as if every pair of eyes in the gym is focused directly on you. Well, you’re not alone. More than half the women who sign up with a health club let their uncomfortable feelings get the better of them. The end result is that they avoid the gym at all costs and flush their fitness program down the proverbial toilet. But, it doesn’t have to end this way, here are ten tips to help you overcome the intimidation and reach your goals.
Step 1: Make sure the gym is right for you. There are all types of gyms, some for women only, some are populated with real people like you and are not mills pumping out spandex-clad gals with nothing better to do then workout 5 hours a day. Look around and find a gym with an atmosphere that you’re comfortable in. You might even want to check out the local YMCA, Jewish Community Center or join an adult education fitness class at your local high school. If you’ve already signed a non-refundable contract, then follow the remaining steps and make the most out of your membership.
Step 2: Make an appointment with a personal trainer. Not only will you learn to use the equipment safely and effectively, but you’ll have an appointment to keep at the gym and no excuses for missing it. Best of all, your trainer will help you put together a workout program that gets you to your goal. Once you know what to do and where to go in the gym you’ll feel a lot less self-conscious.
Step 3: Stick with it. You’ll find the more you go to the gym, the more comfortable you’ll be there. You may even make new friends, but, even if you don’t, you’ll start to feel more at home and fall into a more relaxed routine.
Step 4: Keep it in perspective. Remember, everyone starts out as a beginner at one point in time. So, what if you don’t have the perfect body – isn’t that why you joined a gym? Keep in mind that every time you visit the fitness center, you’ll feel stronger, healthier, and more in control. After several months, you may even find yourself teaching someone who is brand new to the gym and showing her the ropes!
Step 5: Dress comfortably. Don’t worry about how you look. After all, everyone else is more concerned with how they look than with how you look! Wear the same workout clothing in the gym as you would normally wear at home to work out.
Step 6: Work out with a friend. Some people find it easier to walk into a gym with a friend by their side. It’s not only less intimidating, but you end up looking forward to your gym visits. Friends can be great motivators.
Step 7: Take group classes. Most group exercise classes are predominantly women, so you may feel more comfortable there, at first, than on the gym’s treadmills and weight machines.
Step 8: Get into your own zone. Exercise is a very personal experience, so create your own world at the gym by wearing headphones. Listen to your favorite music and before you know it, your workout will be over.
Step 9: Avoid the crowds. For most women, the gym is less intimidating when it’s not packed to the rafters. So, find a time (mid-afternoon or late evening) when there are fewer people to contend with and less competition to get on the equipment. You’ll be in and out of the gym more quickly and have a less stressful workout.
Step 10: Focus on your goal. Instead of walking around worrying about what people may be thinking (which they’re not), concentrate on what you want to get out of your workout. Remember why you’re at the gym and have a great workout!
If you’ve tried all these suggestions and are still feeling anxious, then ditch the gym and get yourself some workout tapes and start strength training and getting in shape where you’re most comfortable: in your own home. The important thing is to stick with it. Schedule workouts on the calendar and be sure not to miss a single session!