Having been overweight for more than half of my life, one of my biggest accomplishments has been conquering my fear of going to the gym. I know I am not alone when I say I had this fear. I was (and still am LOL) a very shy person, I did not feel comfortable in my own skin, and I had no clue what I was going to do when I finally mustered up the courage to get myself to go. Through trial and error, I finally found a way to get over my fear of going to the gym, and you can too.
1) Choose the right gym.
Not all gyms are created equal and some gyms are more intimidating than others. For a beginner I would suggest a smaller family friendly place if available, like a YMCA or a family run gym.
The first gym I attended was a YMCA and I found this to be the least intimidating. It was filled with cardio equipment like treadmills, Stairmasters, bikes, and ellipticals, but it also had a large free weight section and weight machines with descriptions on how to do each exercise. The added benefit of going to a YMCA is that it had group classes available like yoga, Les Mills Body Pump, Zumba, spin and other classes that allowed me to experience a variety of exercises to help me find one that I loved.
Other gyms, like Crossfit boxes or powerlifting gyms, may be a little intimidating to beginners. Many are filled with a ton of squat racks, power lifting stations, sleds and really big tires that can make you overwhelmed and exacerbate your fear to the point that you want to turn around when you have only just arrived.
2) Have goals in place.
Setting goals is important because this is a main determining factor of what you will be doing while at the gym. If your goal is to gain muscle then you most likely will be doing a lot of heavy weight lifting. However, if your goals are to train for a 5K you will probably be doing a lot of work on the treadmill and crosstrainer.
3) Have a game plan.
Knowing what you want to do when you finally get to the gym is huge! If your goal were to gain muscle then I would research a workout plan ahead of time, and figure out how to do each exercise properly before you get to the gym.
This was super important to me personally because I wanted to be able to do the exercises properly without hurting myself, and at the same time look like I know what I was doing while at the gym. Bodybuilding.com is a great resource with lots of free workouts and has videos that demonstrate how to do each exercise properly.
4) Bring a Workout Partner.
Doing something new is scary enough, but having someone sharing the experience with you can help alleviate some of the fear. It will also provide you with a constant level of support, someone to share your triumphs with, and someone to help push you through your struggles.
5) Plan your gym sessions.
Knowing that you have arranged your schedule to compensate for working out removes some of the stress associated with going to the gym. I’m all about stress reduction and by planning ahead, knowing that I am working out at a certain time on select days, and that I still have time for everything else that I need to do really helped eased some of the fear about going to the gym.