You could call it the “resolutioner rush.” Busy gyms filled with people who seem to know exactly what they’re doing. If you’re new to the environment, it can be beyond intimidating.
There’s no need to throw in the sweaty towel and abandon your resolutions. There are simple ways to help you to get more comfortable while you work towards a higher level of fitness:
1. Take the Tour
Would you go to a new country without a map or GPS? Orientation is key. Nothing makes a person feeling more like a fish out of water than having no clue where they’re going. Knowing where the showers are, where the towels go and how the gym is laid out will help you to walk around with a little more swagger. Tours are almost always offered to new members when registering. If not, ask!
2. Dodge the Rush
Rush hour doesn’t just exist on the highway. Every gym experiences a few rush hours throughout the day: the morning rush, the lunch rush and the after-work rush. Depending on location, this does vary, but you certainly can ask the management which hours are the busiest. If you’re feeling self-conscious at the gym, you can avoid these hours while you get your footing. With a quieter space, you can try out new techniques or new equipment. You can even casually take a “monkey see, monkey do” approach and observe others. But please don’t stare. You don’t want to be the gym creeper.
3. Follow the Leader
Fitness classes are an amazing way to get to know the gym while learning new moves in a non-judgmental setting. Many gyms offer free or discounted fitness classes for members. If you’re getting into the gym groove, adding a weekly Zumba, CrossFit, or spin class to your routine will make you feel more comfortable in the environment. Instructors will be more than happy to help you with your equipment or with terminology. That week, take your new moves out of the fitness studio and onto the floor (although Zumba may be a tough one to integrate).
4. Plan It Out
Going to the gym without a plan may leave you with more time in the steam room than sweating on the floor. Walk into the gym with a plan in mind, you confident thing. Failing that, you can make a plan while you warm up. Do you crave cardio? Do you need to work on your strength? There are lots of suggested self-driven workouts on Pinterest, which can help you through a short circuit. You want to use your time efficiently – the most bang for your buck and the most muscles for your time.
5. Start Small, You Eager Beaver
Newbies to the gym can get overeager. Discipline is incredible, but do remember that working out is a high-risk activity. Put your safety first. Pushing yourself further than you are capable of will not only hurt your ego, but could potentially hurt your body for the long haul. Trainers are there to help. Ask for tips and spots, make sure your form is proper and take it slow. How slow can you go?
Even with all the grunting and sweating, the gym doesn’t have to be a scary place. Soon you’ll be the one who looks intimidating to someone stepping right in the door.
It’s just a matter of time.