Joining a gym can be scary. As if mustering up the motivation to get fit isn't tough enough, now you have complicated equipment and professional trainers to worry about. But feeling intimidated by the gym—or what some people call "gymtimidation"—is no excuse to avoid it, especially if it means putting your health on the back burner. To help you confront your feelings of exercise-inadequacy, here are nine simple ways to tackle your fear of the gym head on. Read on to find out how you can get over your gymtimidation for good.
Find the right gym
First and foremost, you have to choose a gym that's appropriate for you. Along with making sure it's close to home and open during your preferred workout hours, there are several other important factors—equipment, classes, member benefits, and more—to consider too. Be sure to check out as many local gyms as possible before you commit to the one that feels right for you.
Go at an odd (empty) hour
One of the most anxiety-producing thoughts of going to the gym is the idea of working out around tons of other people (when you don't have a clue what you're doing). That's why it pays to find out what the slow times of the day are for your gym. Ask staff members when their slowest hours are—usually it's mid-afternoon while most people are still at work—and if possible, schedule your visits accordingly.
Check out videos of how to use equipment before you go
Worried about embarrassing yourself on the elliptical machine or unsure about how to properly handle those weights? YouTube is filled with helpful how-to videos that will show you step-by-step how to use various pieces of gym equipment, so you can educate yourself on the basics from the privacy of your own home.
Get familiar with basic gym etiquette
Another way to avoid embarrassment at the gym is to get a grasp on basic gym etiquette before you go. While most of these rules are unwritten—like don't bother people with headphones on, be fair about sharing machines, and never ever yack on your phone on the treadmill—a quick Google search on gym manners may put your mind at ease.
Bring a friend
Scared to try out a new gym all by your lonesome? Bring a friend. Not only will you have someone you know and trust close by to help ease your fears, working out can be a lot more fun (and easy) when you're doing it with someone you love.
For the sake of your workout, it's important to know how to dress for the gym comfortably. Opt for loose—but not too big—and breathable clothes that won't restrict movement or have you drowning in sweat and fabric.
Sign up for a class
If you're looking for a way to shake your "exercising in public" fears once and for all, there's no healthier way to do it than committing to a beginner's-level exercise class. Not only will it hold you accountable to a designated workout schedule, you'll learn the ropes alongside other gym newbies who probably feel just as intimidated by the process as you.
Don't compare yourself to other people
Although it's much easier said than done, it's crucial to not compare yourself to other people at the gym. Instead, focus that energy on your own health goals and personal progress, and do your best to remember that other gym-goer's workouts are irrelevant to yours.
Don't be afraid to ask for help
Remember, your gym is fully staffed for a reason. For every seasoned athlete lifting weights at your gym, there's a newbie stepping on the treadmill for the first time. Whether you're figuring out the bench press or simply how to change the channel on the TV, the staff at your gym is there to help make your experience at the gym go comfortably and smoothly.