So you’ve made the decision to start working out, and you’ve even joined your local gym. Good for you! You’re well on your way to a healthier, happier, lifestyle.
It’s common to feel a little anxious the first few times you hit the gym, or practice a new workout routine in public. Going to the gym as a newbie can be rather intimidating, but know that this anxiety is totally normal. If this is your first time joining a gym or fitness centre, there may be a lot to learn, but we promise it will be worth it in the end.
There are many ways to battle that initial anxiety you may have, so to help you start out strong, follow these tips.
Get A Gym Buddy
Going to the gym with someone you’re comfortable with can help ease the anxiety of being somewhere new. If you’ve got a friend who is already fitness oriented, even better. (Chances are they’ll be thrilled to have a fellow fitness enthusiast to work out with.) Ask if they wouldn’t mind partnering up so you can get a few pointers while trying out new exercises and equipment. Having a gym buddy will also keep you accountable, so it’ll be harder for you to talk yourself out of going to the gym.
If you feel insecure about your body and think everyone at the gym is judging you the second you hop on the treadmill, you’re already setting yourself up for a stressful workout. Remember: everyone at the gym is working towards the same common goal — improving their fitness. That grunting, hulk man deadlifting 200 pounds? He started out as a scrawny dude. That woman doing sprints on the treadmill? She couldn’t jog for more than five minutes when she first started. Next time you think people are staring at you, just realize that everyone started somewhere, and gym-goers are just like you — going to the gym to feel better about themselves and reach their goals. And think about it this way: Can you remember or describe a single person you saw during your last gym session? No? That’s because nobody is paying as much attention to the other people around them as you might think. Take comfort in knowing that people are very much in their own world when they’re in the zone.
Listen To Music
If you would rather start out on your own and want to take the edge off, get some workout jams going. It’s easy to zone out when you’ve got your favourite tunes blasting in your earbuds. According to research sponsored by The American Council on Exercise (ACE), listening to music can also help you through your workout routine by reducing your perception of effort and increasing your endurance due to the element of distraction. Compile a motivating playlist that will cut through your anxiety and will help push you outside of your comfort zones.
Practice At Home
If you’re too intimidated to show off your moves in public, try out your exercises at home first. Once you’ve been practicing the proper form, you’ll be ready for the next step — going to the gym and repeating the same routine with the added benefit of any gym equipment that you may not have at home. You’ll feel more comfortable doing exercises in public when you know you’ve got the routine down pat.
Start With Something Simple
Although you might be anxious about going to the gym before you’ve arrived, once you are there, statistics show that performing aerobic exercise will decrease tension, elevating and stabilizing your mood and increasing your self-esteem so you can move on to more complicated moves with more confidence. So before you have too much time to analyze the situation, hop on on the treadmill and get those endorphins going!
Take Advantage Of Group Classes
Group classes take the guess work out of fitness. You may not know all of the moves right away, and you’ll probably feel a little bit out of sync during the very first class, but odds are you won’t be the only newcomer. Tell the instructor it’s your first time to ensure he or she explains the routine throughly. The great thing about a group class is you can disappear into the back of the room and follow along until you get the moves right. Look around and try to buddy up with a fellow newcomer, so you can feel less anxious about looking silly (it’s much more fun to look silly with another person!). Learn the moves together, and make a friend along the way.
Enlist The Help Of A Personal Trainer
When you sign up at the gym for the first time, one of the trainers should show you around and explain how to use the machines. Take this time to ask about machines you are curious about and how to use them. The very best way to build confidence at the gym is to know exactly what you’re doing — and there’s no better way to gain this knowledge than with the help of a personal trainer. Consider enlisting the help of a trainer to help you not only come up with a personalized fitness plan, but also to show you how to execute it exactly.
Going to the gym for the first time can be stressful, but with a little bit of persistence, you’ll feel more confident in no time.