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Six tips for getting over gym intimidation

Updated: Feb 25, 2020

Tip #1: Choose a gym you feel comfortable in

If you've never thought of yourself as person that would go to a gym then you're probably going to find the experience fairly daunting. Not every gym is the same and most of the time being in the right environment will either help you get results or deter you.

The staff at the gym, personal trainers and managers can help to create a positive or negative experience and sometimes it's difficult to tell in the first month. I made the mistake of buying a gym membership for a whole year then realised that actually the parking is an issue and at peak times it's just too busy for the size of the place. I also saw how slow they were to replace equipment, I liked that some staff members were friendly but then again the set up was strange with spot lights that glared into your eyes as you bench pressed. All issues that you can probably give the benefit of the doubt but if it ruins the vibe then you aren't going to be inspired to go...and that's coming from a personal trainer!

I do remember there was one gym that one of my clients took me to and while we were there training you could feel the eyes from people in the gym staring at you, I didn't feel intimidated but I could see how this would deter someone from going to the gym.

Tip #2: Follow a program

Following a program will help give you some direction, it will help you from over training as you choose workouts that cover the entire body instead of just going for the muscles you favour. It's very easy to stick to the one exercise in the belief that you develop that muscle faster but in actual fact you'll end up with an injury because that's all you do!

Following a plan will keep you focused and it stops you from wondering what you should do next, there is a lot of focus that is required when asking your body to perform the exercise and in particular, focus on the activation of which muscle you're trying to work. It also reduces the time you spend in the gym as you know that you're only doing those exercises and not every single exercise you can remember, which in turn will help you LOOK more confident in the gym and this will help you FEEL more confident. Plus it will get you better results too!

Tip #3: Practise at home

One of the clients I work with practises the exercises I’ve taught her at home. If you are a beginner, understanding the technique and what to feel during the exercise will make you feel more confident. It gives me the peace of mind knowing that my clients, where ever they are in the world are able to perform the exercises safely and correctly and effectively! Even if they don’t remember the technique, I’m happy to record a quick video and send them the technique using YouTube or even just sending it from my phone! You have to love technology! The more you practise or break down the exercise, the better the neuromuscular efficiency improves, you’ll be able to contract the muscles you want and switch off the muscles you don’t want.

Tip #4: Don’t compare yourself to others

This one is difficult but it’s very important! Even before the days of social media, printed media in magazines were also trying to build that image of the perfect body for women and men! This in turn has turned society into a superficial mess. It helps to have a goal but if you're really not happy then is it worth it?

Everyone has to start somewhere in the gym and sometimes you compare or compete with someone that looks like they've got it all figured out, but you have to take your time and take it at your own pace.

When I was growing up I used to play basketball with this guy who was some freak of nature, it looked like he was ripped to shreds with muscle that no 15 year old should have and it wasn't steroids because it was just a consistent growth rather than a sudden Spiderman movie transformation. I'm not going to lie it did make me do a few more push ups as I looked at my own 15 year old sausage shaped arms. It did make me compare but on that journey I learnt that genetics plays a big part of how fast or how dramatic your transformation is going to be. I know it's cheesy but honestly, train to become a better version of yourself....sorry for that quote.

Tip #5: Know that no one really cares!

Yep this is the truth, you have to get this out of your head that people are staring at you because they really care about what you're doing in your workout. You care because it’s new to you and you think it’s a big deal. I remember when I used to run feeling that entire world watched me as I ran, with a puffy red face, gasping for air as my feet were stomping on the pavement…actually that man and his dog doesn’t care, the people walking to work also didn’t care. If anyone is actually watching you in the gym, they probably don’t know what they’re doing either! They’re watching you to make themselves feel better about it (they are looking for someone they can relate to). People who know what they’re doing tend to be too busy focusing on their own training to look at what you’re doing!

Tip #6: Start with classes

After spending time working in different gyms, it's always nice seeing how people find themselves, the classes are a great way to meet people in the gym and give you some extra motivation. The good thing about classes is that you're all going through that torture at the same time together sharing the pain....I mean going through that exercise together at the same time and sharing the fun :) With regular attendance you'll hopefully get stronger and feel more confident in the movement, if you have a good trainer they will help correct you during the class plus you’ll get to know faces in the gym so it doesn’t seem as daunting. These things will help you feel less intimidated in the gym!

If you feel like extra coaching to help you become more confident in the gym come visit me in one of the studios in Chiswick or Mortlake for a personal training session, we can go through your technique and break down the movement so you understand what you need to do for a safe and effective session. Sign up here.

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