The new word in town: one that many can relate too. It describes the feeling some of us experience even thinking about exercise.
Gyms. They can be fearful places. Filled with meatheads lifting iron or skinny madam’s working the treadmill for an hour at a time, dressed in skin clad lycra (gym fashion article coming soon btw!). You feel unworthy, like these people will judge you, laugh at you. How can you go into a gym and workout, seriously?!
The most common worries that sail through people’s mind include:
Do you see a common theme? Fear.
Fear is a truly unpleasant emotion experienced when we face a perceived threat. Note the word “perceived”. I promise you now: the above mentioned fears can be quelled and I plan to show you why. Easy for me right? I’m a fitness bunny. I’m also someone who, just like you, is sometimes conscious of others and dislikes the typical gym environment. I just found a way round it.
So…first off: 1. The fear of current gym-goers and what they will think of you.
Allow me to let you into a little secret. Most people in the gym will be far to busy concentrating on their own workout and themselves and updating their Facebook “currently smashing my way through 400 kcals, boom” etc. that they won’t even notice you. I mean it.
If they do look at you, how do you know they aren’t thinking “good for her, getting her training in” or just “nice t shirt” or dare I say it, nothing at all. It’s never easy going somewhere new the first few times but very soon you will recognise a few friendly faces and feel comfortable. Also, you will hopefully be so into your own workout, you’ll be one of those current gym goers too busy to notice other people!
The great thing about getting fit is that it increases your confidence and makes you less self-aware about others and more positively focussed on you.
Some gyms have much friendlier vibes than others. Factor this in when you are shopping around as it is important to feel comfortable and welcome. If it really is full of unfriendly so and so’s, find another! Maybe a smaller independent studio would be better than a commercial gym. More on this below.
You look around at all the equipment and machines, all of them are in use, only the free weights are free and you think “eek, what do I do?!”
First off, make a list of what types of activity you enjoy. Now you may not actually know this right now. I never knew I’d enjoy throwing a heavy barbell over my head until I tried it.
If you like Pilates and Yoga, or tennis for example, then great: you have a start. Look around for clubs and classes that suit you. Then look at things you think you might like but have never done, for example: lifting weights.
A personal trainer really is the best way to find out your current level of strength and fitness and then set out goals and how to achieve them. They can show you different types of exercise and how to roughly piece a programme together so you are never struck with confusion.
Experts are so called for a reason and it is well worth the money to use them when starting using a gym for the first time. If you want to do classes but fear not knowing any techniques, then arrange a 1:1 with the class teacher beforehand.
Your confidence will massively increase and fears will be left at the door.
Ultimately: see the above point. Speak to a professional. Get them to show you how to do it. If you really cannot stretch to this, then look online and gets some hints and tips about how to do things. Technique is everything.
If you have a current injury and are concerned, or using as an excuse not to exercise (!) then book yourself an appointment with a physio / osteo / doctor and get it sorted! Also remember that an injury in one limb does not rule out exercising completely! If you have heart or lung problems, then exercise (prescribed by a professional) can help.
Decent exercise will ultimately make you stronger and actually protect you from injury. Yes, you will get tweaks and aches and pulls along the way but these are par for the course and do not constitute a reason to stop.
This is a very common fear. No one truly wants to look silly in front of others but as mentioned in point 1: you have to stop worrying about what others think. If you saw someone fall off a treadmill, you might have a giggle but you would more likely rush to help them and only worry for their health. Chances are, other people are exactly the same.
Stepping outside of your comfort is necessary to progress. If that means you sometimes pick too high a weight in your pump class and have to stop and drop down a weight, so be it. If it means you have to fall over 5 times trying to do a handstand when everyone else seems to be getting them, so be it.
There has always been this unspoken rule that we set upon ourselves that a gym session must last an hour. This places immediate fear into our thoughts. Where will I find an hour to train then extra time to shower, get ready and of course travel there and back.
You don’t have to train for an hour. In 30 minutes or less you can have a really effective workout, one that you are much more likely to put your all into compared to an hour of clock watching as you mercilessly pound the treadmill (for no true gain).
Look on You Tube for some 20-minute training ideas. Spend 10 minutes mobilising and warming up then blast out 20 minutes of training. You could do a 20-minute strength session, focussing on the legs and finish with a 3-minute-high intensity finisher like a row or burpees. Please don’t ask me about HIIT and other faddy names.
You still need to cover all aspects of training; strength / cardio / mobility, but with short, effective sessions you are more likely to enjoy it, make time for it and stick to it.
Finally, the biggest fear for many of us: cost. Finances are tough at the best of time and if fitness isn’t currently your passion then spending money on it can be hard to do.
Joining a gym isn’t expensive. Joining a fancy gym with Egyptian cotton towels, spa facilities and staff to mop your bro IS expensive. Shop around – the local YMCA is under £20!
Working out isn’t about looking good and feeling pampered. It’s about putting in the effort, concentrating fully on your technique and focussing on your goals.
If you prefer classes, look at group-on or other money saving sites. Does your work offer discounted gym membership? Do you use it?! What about using your imagination? Look up some bodyweight circuits and go out in the garden or to a park.
There is always something out there.
Don’t let fears get in the way of your health!