Taking control of your health and fitness is one of the most empowering things you can do after quitting smoking. But no matter how motivated you might be, stepping foot inside a gym for the first time can be an intimidating experience. In fact, it’s not uncommon for some people to be put off entirely before they’ve even got going.
If you’re one of the many people who suffer from “gymtimidation” (or feeling intimidated by the gym), then here are some of the most common concerns, and our advice on how to overcome them:
“How will I know where to go?”
It’s normal to feel disorientated on your first trip to the gym. But if you’re someone who’s worried about getting lost on your way from the weight room to the swimming pool, then don’t despair. You can book onto an initial tour of the gym before you’ve even signed up for a membership.
Many gyms offer inductions, and being shown around the building by a friendly guide will help you to familiarise yourself with its layout. Seeing the changing rooms, the pool, the gym floor and even the café should take away that feeling of the unknown, and help you to feel more comfortable on your first proper workout.
“What should I wear to the gym?”
First and foremost, you should wear something comfortable. Breathable, sweat-wicking materials are perfect for stretching and yoga, while loose-fitting clothes are the right choice for high-intensity exercises. And no matter what activity you’re doing, a sturdy pair of trainers is always a must.
It’s also helpful to bring along a small gym towel (for wiping down equipment after you’ve used it) and a water bottle. If you’re planning on going to the gym early before work, try to pack your bag the night before in preparation.
“How do I know how to use the gym equipment?”
Most gym inductions involve being taken around the gym by an experienced trainer who can show how to safely use the machines. Go to your induction dressed in comfortable workout clothes so you can give the machines a try under the supervision of a trainer, and practice your technique.
A qualified trainer can also advise you on the best routine for your particular fitness goal, and the correct form for each machine. That way, you know you’re getting the most out of your exercise while minimising your risk of injury.
“Do I need a workout plan?”
Having a plan laid out before you start your workout has a whole host of benefits. Setting a routine will stop you under-training on days when you’re lacking in motivation, or over-training and injuring yourself when you’re full of energy.
If you’re worried about feeling awkward or out of place while at the gym, a workout plan will help you to know where to go and when. Just make sure to have a plan B if the equipment you want to use is taken.
“I hate working out”
For some people, running for miles on the treadmill with their headphones in is the ideal way to unwind. But for others, the boredom of doing the same thing day-in day-out can be a motivation-killer.
To get the most out of your exercise routine, and to make sure you’re motivated enough to keep going, try to find an activity you love. Group exercise classes are a great way to try new things out. Whether it’s stretching it out in Yoga, or working up a sweat in a HIIT class, there’s an activity out there for everybody.
“How do I motivate myself to go to the gym?”
Even the most motivated gym-goer has off-days. Sometimes it’s cold. Sometimes it’s raining. And often your bed is just too comfortable to leave, and you can’t imagine anything worse than dragging yourself to the gym.
This feeling is completely natural, particularly when you’re just starting out on your fitness journey. However, it’s easy to overcome. Find yourself a gym buddy, or a small group of gym buddies, and commit to exercising together. This will give you a sense of accountability and motivation. You know you’ll enjoy it when you’re there!