Feeling intimidated when walking into a fitness center is so common there is a phrase for it: “Gym-timidation.” If you suffer from gym-timidation like many others, consider these 5 steps to build confidence.
1. Choose the right gym for your needs
Research the facility to familiarize yourself with gyms in the surrounding area. It’s important to choose a gym that aligns with your goals and availability. Having an idea of what your goals are and what your movement sessions will involve can be helpful. Are you interested in cardiovascular work or strength training or a combination of both?
You’ll want to pick a facility that can accommodate your needs, so consider checking the following:
- Hours of operation and distance from your home and/or place of employment
- Pictures of the facility, gym layout and machines available
- Staff member biographies and education/certification requirements
- Membership prices, enrollment fees, company discounts and if they offer a free trial visit prior to enrollment
- Visit their website to get an idea of the culture the business is building
Understanding what you’re stepping into can give you a sense of control.
2. Be prepared and arrive in comfortable clothing
Wear clothes and shoes that you can move comfortably in. If possible, avoid wearing clothing that is a barrier to movement. This way, you will be comfortable while exploring the machines and exercise options.
Prepare for your visit by packing a bag of items that you consider essential to your visit. Consider bringing a water bottle or headphones, if you prefer to listen to your own music. If you decide to use the shower facilities, having your own toiletries and shower shoes can be helpful.
3. Familiarize yourself with the facility
The easiest way to do this is to ask a staff member for assistance or for an orientation. Getting answers to the following fundamental questions can help your visits be efficient.
- Where are the locker rooms?
- Where can I fill up my water bottle? If I forget to bring it, is a drinking fountain available?
- Is there machine etiquette that needs to be followed?
If there is equipment or a certain machine you’d like to use, ask for a review of how to safely operate it.
4. Make a plan that helps you stay on track
Decide what times are best for you to visit the gym and make a plan for your visits that helps you reduce obstacles and excuses for not going. This is an important step to ensure it becomes a routine and part of your lifestyle.
If your facility offers group fitness classes, participating in a class that suits your intensity level can help you find other people who have similar goals.
5. Ask for help from your friends or loved ones
If you follow these steps and still don’t feel comfortable, consider bringing a friend or partner with you and notice how that changes your perspective. If the gym doesn’t resonate with you, don’t let that stop you from moving. Consider trying another facility or looking for online classes you can do at home or outside.