This one isn't just for the ladies. This is for everyone who has ever felt a fear of the gym.
I talk to a lot of people. Many of which have told me they have 'never stepped foot in a weight room.'
While this may have thrown me for a loop a few years ago (because a few years ago, I couldn't fathom life without a weight room), I understand why people may not want to venture in to the weight room or the gym in general.
The reasons vary from: 'I don't know how to use the equipment' to 'I don't look like the people in the gym' to 'People stare at me' to 'there are a bunch of meatheads in there.'
I am writing this purely from personal perspective but also from a collective of experiences at various phases in my life and working out in hundreds of gyms.
Photo cred: @dudeperfect (watch the vid on YouTube - hilarious!)
People are NOT staring at you, no matter how self-conscious you feel I too was a 'gym-first timer' several years ago. I ALWAYS felt as if people were staring at my overweight body in my non-matching gym clothes and my awkward use of the equipment as a beginner. But they weren't.
Fast forward a few years after I lost weight and began competing in fitness competitions and I suddenly realized that people in the gym that were serious about their fitness are only focused on themselves and their workout. (Personally: I was self-absorbed and was only paying attention to me)
Present Day: now that I focus sheerly on performance goals and heavy, technical lifts, I TRULY am only focused on my performance. I am not looking around at anyone and I am completely absorbed in my technique and form. I don't know who is around me, what they are doing or what they are wearing and frankly, I don't care. I came to WORK.
Ask anyone who is an avid gym-goer and they will tell you, they aren't looking at anyone else. Now, there are always those exceptions to the rule: the bro's making fun of someone lifting wrong, the gym-queen mean mugging EVERYONE, but here's a great piece of advice:
Gyms were created to GET FIT and maintain a Healthy Lifestyle The gym is not just for the insanely fit. The gym is for EVERYONE. The reason personal trainers in gyms exist is not only to help people achieve their fitness goals but also to help people get STARTED in fitness that have no idea how to use machines, free weights, create workouts or how to use proper form.
In fact - that leads me to #3
Personal Trainers are your Friend! Hire one! Even if only for a month so you not only learn proper form, how to build workouts, how to use the equipment but also so you become COMFORTABLE in the gym.
Most gyms give a complimentary session with a trainer as part of your enrollment. Use this! You will likely have a full hour to get to know the trainer and find out if they are a good fit for you to work with. Some trainers also teach group fitness classes and you can get to know them and their style this way as well.
Know that not all trainers are created equal. Find out what kind of background, education, experience and certifications they have before working with them. At a baseline, they need to have understanding of anatomy and physiology, biomechanics, injuries and various genres of fitness (we all know that trainer that only knows how to train one style).
Don't discount the rookie trainers! Many of them have degrees in fitness and/or a deep understanding of the body and simply lack experience.
Often our perceptions are wrong Meatheads are people too!
No really. And many times, who we label as 'meatheads' or 'gym rats' or 'divas' are very kind people who just have a pure love of fitness!
Sometimes, these are the best people to befriend as they have can a LOT of knowledge and can point you in the right direction.
** Just try not to approach while they have 300lbs on their back or are mid sprint :-) **
So are you ready? Let go of that fear and of your own stereotypes, go to the gym and find an activity there that you LOVE! Meet with a trainer or ask a friend that is knowledgeable about fitness to go with you to get you over that first step.
And above all - have FUN! That's what life is all about!