You walk into the gym for the first time. Everyone immediately halts their workouts and begins staring. You can read their minds.
“Why is she even here?”
“How dare she make the decision to take control of her health and begin her fitness journey?”
You’re so uncomfortable in your own skin that you run out of the gym never to return!
The gym can be a rather intimidating space and it’s not surprising that a newcomer would be this hesitant. First of all, let me assure you that no one/ nothing can ever shame you away from a gym.
Overcoming the mental barrier that’s preventing you from realizing your fitness goals is another journey in itself.
Starting your fitness journey is a challenge and staying the course can be just as daunting. Let’s begin the journey on exactly how to get over your fear of joining a gym in seven days!
Day 1: Journal Your Feelings
Grab a journal, a piece of paper, your phone, or whatever you can write in and describe how you feel right now. If you already journal religiously, then this should be easier for you.
Think about what emotions have come up because you haven’t started towards your fitness goals. Perhaps you’ve felt anger, guilt, sadness and these emotions have begun to drive other areas of your life.
If there was ever a time when you were working towards your health goals, compare your current emotional state to your state at the time.
Now write down your goals. I believe strongly in the power of writing as a means of bringing my goals to fruition. And it always works for me.
If your goal is to lose or gain a few inches or pounds write this down. Also, write your goal size or weight if you have one.
If your goal is to build strength and kill fifty pushups nonstop or feel comfortable in a bikini, write this down.
Be honest with yourself about what you really want and write it all down; you’ll need this later.
Day 2: Weigh The Costs & Gains
It’s useful to weigh the costs and benefits of getting a gym membership before going full throttle. These could be financial or time costs, and they will differ for everyone.
Are you a mom of 3 with a full-time job? Maybe you’ll have to find a gym with childcare or hire a sitter.
Are you a college student with a full course load and a paid-for gym membership through your school?
Time is your main cost so perhaps, you’ll need to squeeze in a workout between classes or labs.
You need to make sure your schedule and finances are set up for your success in order to make the most of your gym membership.
Look at your daily schedule and make sure you can factor in a one-hour workout including transportation time.
Also, consult your monthly budget and make sure the gym membership doesn’t hurt your bank balance so much.
Likewise, weigh the potential gains that you’ll enjoy from getting a gym membership. Mental and physical gains!
Will you have the stamina to climb a flight of stairs without thinking you might die? Will working towards your fitness goals give you the mental clarity and bliss you need to thrive in other areas of your life?
Once you’re convinced that the potential benefits are worthwhile, it’s time to move on to the next step.
Day 3: Educate Yourself
Nothing controls fear and anxiety better than educating yourself on the issue that’s causing it! Read some articles and watch tutorials to familiarize yourself with a typical gym regimen for your fitness goals.
My go-to website when I was educating myself on this topic was bodybuilding.com. Their website teaches you about the basics of human anatomy and comprises a large repository of targeted body-part exercises!
Find your go-to health and fitness website and absorb as much information on different exercises and routines.
Also, if you want an on-the-go solution, try an app like Strong or Sweat app. I love the Strong app because it has a huge repository of exercises that you can select from to create your workout routine.
They also have pictures and detailed instructions on how to perform the exercises! It’s a super useful workout assistant.
Note, you can never know everything. It’s important to always be in a constant state of growth and development on your fitness journey.
Also, be careful not to absorb every piece of information that’s flashed in your face. Make sure you vet your sources and be selective about what to incorporate into your lifestyle.
Day 4: Go Gym Shopping
Now that you have an almost solid idea of how to use certain gym equipment and accessories, it’s time to go gym shopping.
Finding the right gym is a very crucial step in the process, and there’s a lot to consider.
- Do you prefer a structured or flexible regimen? If you prefer more structure, there are gyms that do not allow access to gym equipment and only offer classes.
- Do you need child care? You’ll be happy to know that some gyms offer child-care services and this option will cost you a lot less than hiring a sitter. Most gyms hire professionals who have passed background checks and have CPR/AED, and other trainings.
- Do you want a gym that’s accessible in multiple states? This will be very useful if you travel a lot for work and don’t want to interrupt your fitness flow. Find a chain gym such as Equinox, Gold’s gym, 24-hour fitness, LA fitness, and Planet fitness with locations across different states.
- Do you want a body-positive gym? Many gyms are now cultivating the idea of body positivity amongst their communities. They realize how intimidating the gym environment can be and gym owners are becoming more proactive about it. Body Positive Fitness Alliance is an organization that strives to make the gym a more welcoming environment for all people. BPFA has a host of affiliated professionals and facilities that . You can use the search tool on the BPFA website to find professionals that. Use a body positive gym finder like Super Fit Hero to find an inclusive gym in your area.
- Do you want a non-committal experience? Join a monthly membership that allows you access to multiple studios and gym classes. Studio Hop and Class Pass are two major membership programs that offer this refreshing multi-club experience.
- Do you want a more intimate experience? Search for a small boutique gym or studio for a more close-knit group. You can get to know your instructors and fellow members on a personal level and have a gym family.
Day 5: Buy Nice Activewear
Yes, go shopping! This will boost your confidence in so many ways. I can tell you that I’ve left the gym mid-workout multiple times because of awkward and intense crotch sweat!
You need to make sure that your activewear improves your confidence and performance at the gym instead of impeding it.
You should shop moisture-wicking activewear if you’re super conscious of sweat patches like I am.
Additionally, if you’re worried about odor, invest in sportswear with antimicrobial fabric technology. Look for high-rise leggings that don’t slip, and high-impact sports bras for high-impact activities like running or plyometrics.
Also, if wearing really cute leggings makes you feel confident, go for it. Do not underestimate the effect of your activewear on your workout. See some of my activewear reviews on the website!
Day 6: Find A Gym Bunny or Buddy
This is very helpful especially if you’ve never been to a gym before! Find a friend, co-worker, or family member who has a gym membership and tag along for a day.
Allow her/him to show you the ropes at the gym and get used to this somewhat foreign environment. There’s nothing major to learn about gym etiquette except :
- Clean your equipment with antimicrobial wipes after use; the gym should have some dispensers around. This includes cardio machines, mats, some weightlifting machines, etc.
- You may also want to clean before use too.
- Place a towel on the seats while using weight-lifting equipment.
- Look around to see if someone is using a piece of equipment before commandeering it.
- It’s normal to share equipment with strangers at the gym between reps.
- Re-rack your weights and replace equipment and accessories after you’re done using them.
It’s okay if you take a week for this step, especially if you plan to join a different gym.
Also, consider taking a group fitness class at the gym to garner more experience and confidence before exercising on your own. Feel free to make a friend or two while you’re at it!
Alternatively, you could schedule a training session with a coach at the gym you plan to join. In one hour, you should get a tour of the gym facility, meet some other instructors, and get a quick workout in.
Day 7: Reconsult Your Journal
It’s Day 7 and hopefully, you’ve made some headway. Go back to your journal and compare your current emotional/mental state with that of Day 1. You’re probably feeling a bit more optimistic about joining a gym, that’s awesome!
Now, look over your fitness goals and count how many you’ve achieved. I’m going to bet that number is zero. The thing is, planning is AMAZING.
Planning sets us up for success. However, planning without execution is absolutely fruitless. All the mental preparation in the world won’t bring your goals to actuality until you follow through with actions.
At this point, you’ve sorted out the costs of joining a gym, you’ve educated yourself on different exercises, you’ve found the right gym and activewear for you, you’ve had a training session with a coach or a buddy.
YOU ARE READY. Sign the contract and begin this leg of your fitness journey.
I BELIEVE IN YOU!!!
What has been the most challenging step for you? Leave a comment to let us know what else has helped you overcome this barrier!
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