I take for granted the idea of walking into any health club, jumping on a machine (or, much closer to reality, stepping into a group fitness class) and just working out. It seems easy and effortless- especially hidden behind my iPod speakers and my head down. However, it recently occurred to me that one of the biggest obstacles for people to get in shape is actually getting over the gym intimidation factor.
When this lightbulb of an idea flashed before me- it became clear. The hard bodies, the impossible machines with hundreds of unknown buttons, the weight plates on the weight machines that can throw your back out. I understand how one might feel about working out there. What should you do if the gym intimidates you? Here are my tips:
1. Hire a trainer. Yes, dig deep into your pockets and invest in 5 or 10 sessions with a trainer. They know how to use the machines, know many of the club regulars and can help introduce you to an exercise routine AND others who are just like you. If you can’t afford a whole package, even one or two sessions can help ease any minor discomfort with the machines and help get you started on a promising exercise program fit for you and your goals.
2. Splurge on a few new workout outfits. Need something to motivate you past the hard bodies on the treadmill? Indulge yourself and go get some new gear. If anything will motivate you, if only for a short while, a new outfit will.
3. Enlist a friend to go! Studies show working out with a buddy leads to higher success rates sticking to an exercise routine and sharing the gym unease with a friend who might know how to turn on the rowing machine may make the gym seem less unfriendly.
4. Take a group fitness class. This is my preferred method- let someone else figure out the music and the routine and motivate you. You can slip in and out if you wish! For me this works on days I don’t feel like engaging with anybody. Other than the pleasantries I exchange with a few friends in class- I get in and get out mostly unnoticed. Once the music starts and you are working, there is no time to be intimidated -only time to work hard and get your workout in.
5. Take it outside. So you don’t like exercising indoors. Go to a track and walk. Find stairs and run up and down them. Go to the pool and swim laps. Don’t use the fact that you don’t like the gym to be what keeps you from getting exercise.
6. Get over yourself. Yup, I said it. You know what? I like to believe most people will help me if I ask or if I am indeed clueless. Get it out of your head that all those people on that row of treadmills are looking at you as you figure out the machine and ask someone to help you. Stop thinking everyone is going to think negatively of you and your extra baby weight you are still carrying or whatever. Since when do you let what others think get in your way? (sorry, that is my tough love trainer side coming out… but seriously- get over yourself!)
Do you have a story about overcoming this particular obstacle or another tip? Share here!