Despite the many thousands of gyms, health clubs and fitness centres, many people are still reluctant to join a gym because they feel that it will be an intimidating experience. The reality of gyms though is that the modern gym is a fantastic place in which to get fit, and your local facility will be full of people of all ages and all levels of fitness getting on with their own workouts.
All gyms vary slightly, and it is important that your gym environment is correctly matched to you. Do a little detective work by asking friends and work colleagues which gyms they recommend or are members of before you take the plunge. This way, you can match the gym to your personality and start off on your path to improved health and fitness on the right foot.
It’s perfectly natural to feel a little apprehensive when embarking on a new venture - and joining a gym is no different. To boost your confidence levels, try joining with a friend or family member, so that you’re not starting out on your own. By doing this you will have initial and ongoing support - which is certain to make the whole induction process much less intimidating. Your friend or family member can then become your training partner, which will not only be supportive but will also help you to maintain your motivation.
All good gyms will have a thorough induction process which - as well as checking your health and fitness levels - is designed to put you at ease so that you feel more confident in the new environment.
To help your transition from gym novice to gym regular, the gym staff will ask you to complete a health and fitness questionnaire (a basic form that checks on any medical conditions and your exercise history); assess your current level of fitness so that you can start exercising at the correct level; and give you a hands-on tour of all the equipment in the gym, so that you know how each piece of equipment works and how to operate it correctly.
It is important to exercise correctly whenever you train - especially when you first begin, as this way you don’t pick up bad habits for the future. To do this, get your gym instructor to provide you with an appropriate training program for your level of fitness and your specific goals. This way you won’t get injured by doing too much, and will gain benefits to your fitness in the areas you’ve specified. For example, if you plan to run in a race, then an instructor can shape your program so that you focus on improving your running fitness.
Once you have started training and been to the gym a few times, if you feel that you either need more support for your training or you want to ensure that you get the absolute best from your workout time, then try getting a personal trainer. A personal trainer will plan all your training and accompany you throughout your exercise sessions, during which he or she will help, coach, explain, guide, motivate and ensure that you always exercise correctly.
When you’re starting out, take everything at a steady pace and gradually familiarize yourself with the different pieces of equipment. Avoid trying to match someone else’s pace or routine, and instead simply do your own thing. This way you will train safely and your confidence will build as you become more used to the training environment.
The timing of your workout is very important as you build your confidence. Typically, Monday and Tuesday evenings are the busiest times at the gym as people look to make up for any lack of training over the weekend. So, if you prefer to exercise during quieter periods, try going to the gym at the weekend instead or during the week at the following times: early morning (6.30am to 9.30am); mid-afternoon (1.30pm to 4pm); later evening (8pm to closing time).
The fitness instructors in the gym are there to help and advise you – so make a point of chatting to them about your goals and training, or asking them any questions you may have. Additionally, you will find that other gym members will be only too happy to offer advice and support about particular exercises or training techniques – so talk to them too. By doing this you will always have a large pool of information to draw upon!
Almost every gym offers exercise classes in studios – so you should be able to find a timetable of different classes together with a description of their suitability for different fitness levels in your gym. (If you don’t spot a timetable on the gym’s noticeboard, then just ask for one at reception.) The advantages of joining a class are that you will get to know people, you will become integrated into a group, and you will be able to build your fitness in a friendly, supportive environment.
Nothing is guaranteed to give your confidence a greater boost than seeing personal fitness improvements.
Make sure that you become a regular gym goer, because this continuity will fast-track you to improved fitness. Then, once you become fitter, you will feel much more confident when you work out - and so you will be more likely to keep coming back to the gym. Also, book in for regular reassessments with the fitness instructors so that you can review your training progress and monitor your improvements.
Despite its vast array of complex-looking items of equipment, your gym is the ideal place in which to improve your fitness levels - especially as all the people busily working out are the same people that you’ll meet in your local bar, supermarket or workplace! Today’s gyms are staffed by friendly, helpful instructors and frequented by people just like you - so don’t delay, let the gym fix your jitters today!