We have all been there, you go into the gym for your first session to be greeted by the huge, sweaty guy grunting and groaning his way through a 150kg bench press.
Feeling intimidated is one the top reasons that people give for not going to the gym, which is a shame as there is no need for it, and in most cases any bad feeling is only perceived and not actually there. The majority of gym goers are too focussed on their own efforts to be bothered with what anyone else is doing. Additionally many people think it’s great that you are there doing any exercise at all, regardless of ability – after all millions don’t bother – so feel good abut yourself, you have EVERY right to be in that gym.
However, any new experience can be daunting and many of us have a fear of being stared at or mocked. Here are my top tips to avoid drawing undue attention to yourself and getting the most from your visit.
1. Have a proper induction.
Most gyms will offer this as standard but there are still some lazy instructors out there who will say, “It’s all pretty obvious, you’ll be fine!”. Don’t stand for this, insist on an induction – knowing how to properly use each piece of equipment will avoid any embarassing situations, or more importantly any serious accidents.
2. Observe the Gym Etiquette
Keeping to the gym etiquette will make sure you don’t put upset any regulars and draw any unwanted attention to yourself.
3. Wear the right clothes.
I don’t mean rush out and spend £500 on the latest big brand collection, many people wear what is probably their worst stuff to the gym, but what is important is that you wear the APPROPRIATE clothes. If you want people to accept that you belong in the gym don’t turn up in flip-flops and combat trousers.
Wear trainers – it doesn’t matter who makes them as long as they give your feet adequate support. I’ve seen people on the treadmill in leather slip-ons, it just says – “I have no idea what I am doing”.
4. Get a Personal Trainer
A Personal Trainer will provide you with a structured plan that will give you a clear focus in the gym and ensure that you just wandering around wondering what to do next. You will have a precise plan of how many sets and reps you should be doing and they will ensure that you do everything with perfect form.
They will also build up your confidence with different weights and help you establish exactly which weights to use so you can confidently choose them at your next gym visit, instead of nervously testing half a dozen!
5. Have a plan.
As before, have a clear idea of what you are there for. Is it a Cardio session, is it a weights session, are you concentrating on Abs today? Having this plan means that you will get the most out the session as you will not waste time choosing the next ecxerise.
6. Focus on what YOU are doing.
Firstly for safety, concentrate on each rep of each exercise to maintain your form and posture to avoid injury.
Secondly, just as you may feel self-conscious, others may too so avoid staring at other gym users. By all means say hello and be friendly but people are largely there to train not to feel uncomfortable.
7. Stay within your limits.
Don’t over do it! If you have a plan, stick to it. Nothing screams out inexperience more than someone crashing a weight to the floor, or falling over, or getting injured because they bit off more than they can chew.