Gym Phobia

Conquering nerves about joining a gym

by Lauren Hales

Working out, joining a gym, and making a consistent health change—it can all feel intimidating to anyone who has never been a part of gym culture before. It’s common to be hesitant about joining a gym if you don’t know how to work the gym equipment, are self-conscious of how other people will view you, or are unsure of how to best make use of your time and financial commitment.

When you work out at a gym, it’s not only a wonderful place to get in shape but also provides a support system for your health journey. A few simple ideas will have you on your way to comfortably joining a gym and taking better care of your body and spirit.

How can you feel confident and comfortable in a gym?

  • Ask for a tour of the gym! Call ahead and ask for a tour of the space and amenities. Try to schedule your tour for the time of day when you will be working out. That will give you a good idea of what the gym will be like during your future workout sessions—how busy or crowded the gym will be and what machines and equipment are the most in demand.
  • Dress comfortably. Bring athletic shoes, a water bottle, and either a book, audiobook, or music to help you create your own comfort zone.
  • Start small. If you’re still intimidated, begin with one type of exercise, class, or machine and gain confidence before moving on to other options. Remember: you are your own worst critic!
So how do gyms “work”?

At a standard gym, you can work out several different ways.

  • Use equipment individually on your own schedule. Often there are instructions right on the machines. Or use your phone or computer to look up instructional videos online—many free, online resources can ease your anxiety and increase your knowledge.
  • Work with a personal trainer. This might give you extra one-on-one motivation, but it will cost extra, on top of your gym membership fee.
  • Join group fitness classes. Many may be free with your membership. These are a great way to meet new people, have clear instructions from a certified instructor, and try several different types of exercise to figure out what you like best.

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