How to make your gym experience less intimidating?
Feeling intimidated is one of the most common reasons I hear for people not liking the gym. It’s also one of the biggest barriers that people have to getting started on a fitness program.
They feel like the gym is a big scary place full of equipment they don’t know how to use. Their perception is that everyone is staring at them and judging their every move.
Another common belief is that everyone else is in great shape, and knows what they are doing. After 25+ years in the fitness industry, I can tell you that none of these beliefs are true.
The most important aspect of feeling comfortable at the gym is your mindset and personal reasons for going.
Fear and intimidation are typically related to internal “stuff” rattling around in your head. It is not about the gym itself, or the people in attendance.
You may be shocked (and perhaps even upset) when you realize how little the people around you think or care about what you are doing. Other people are so wrapped up in their own world to think or worry about what’s going on in yours!
Remembering this is a great start, but any remaining fear surrounding these areas tends to disappear (or be drastically reduced) when you know the answer to these two questions:
- What is your most important reason for starting a fitness program?
- What are your goals and expectations?
Here are four practical strategies for how to make your gym experience less intimidating by making sure you are most comfortable and confident when you embark on your fitness journey:
1. Choose the right environment
Your comfort level is directly related to how well you fit in with the crowd at your gym.
If you don’t (yet) see yourself as a “gym person”, surrounding yourself with people with whom you have things in common is a great help. For example, if you like Yoga, Pilates and have never “lifted weights” before, would you feel comfortable with a gym called “Mike’s Massive Muscle Emporium” where it’s filled with jacked-up dudes on steroids grunting to their death metal playlist?
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t challenge yourself, step outside your comfort zone (a little bit at the beginning), and try something new. It simply means that the environment should be welcoming and inviting at the beginning and that it eases you into the process.
We see this all the time with things like CrossFit, Adventure races, and HIIT classes.
It’s great you want to get fit, however, if you aren’t fit, there are many factors to consider. Most importantly, start by resolving those nagging issues FIRST. These include: eliminating movement issues, healing existing injuries, and slowly getting familiar with high-intensity exercise.
If you join a race or some crazy intense program, it’s a recipe for disaster. You enter a “sink or swim” scenario where success sometimes happens, but the result is usually injury or frustration. If you are lucky enough to find a qualified instructor who heavily modifies the program, you can often avoid catastrophic injury. Sadly, those types of coaches aren’t as common as we want!
It would be neglectful of me to remind you that you don’t NEED a gym to get healthy and fit!
Your body is the best tool available. Learning to use it properly and using it consistently!
2. Remember why you are there
Choose the right environment for yourself. This is important and a great help to reduce fear and intimidation…though it can still creep in.
At this point, remember your reasons for making this change.
Your particular reasons will be unique, but they will generally fall into the categories of reaping the myriad benefits of greater health, happiness, and fitness. Of course, looking and feeling great is also a pretty cool side effect!
Tap into the emotion of how your actions will positively impact your life.
3. Buy Speed
At this point, you have chosen a great environment and tapped into your reason for being there. Now, you will need to get the necessary work done!
Yes, it’s still work. Everything up to this point has been preparation and planning, but now the rubber hits the road.
Sure, you can complete this journey on your own. Many people have done it before you. So, why make the same mistakes as everyone else when you could accomplish more in less time and have more fun doing it.
It’s at this point where I normally encourage people to “invest in yourself”. A great option is to hire a qualified and experienced coach, ideally, a coach who inspires, educates, and challenges you.”
The money you invest will save you years of time and frustration. Now THAT’s a smart investment!
4. Remember that most people are in the same situation as you
As the journey continues, there will inevitably be challenges and struggles. Your future selves are made here, where the gold is found!
At these times, it’s important to think about the fact that we are all in it for the same basic reasons…to improve our health, happiness, and life. Again, remember that people have been where you are, and overcome these challenges.
This perspective will allow us to learn a few things, improve our life, and do it in the easiest way possible. Who knows, we may even have some fun in the process!
That’s it. There’s nothing too complicated in this plan, and it works well!
Here’s one final comment for you to consider.
Unknown or unfamiliar situations will always seem a little scary. You can overcome that fear and doubt by walking towards it, experiencing the new environment, and becoming more comfortable through the process. This is how we learn, grow, and develop across all areas of life. It’s the same with health and fitness. Get out there and do it…properly…and consistently! 🙂
That’s all for today! I hope this makes your gym experience less intimidating and makes you feel more confident and comfortable starting your fitness journey!
If you would like any advice or training tips we are happy to help you learn to move better while improving your fitness, fat loss, and performance!
Just email us for more info on how to get started!