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Published June 28, 2013 in Exercise & Fitness
Dealing With and Overcoming Your Gym Fears
 
By Jill Armayor for DRS Health

This year, you have made the decision to start exercising to get into the best shape of your life, for your family, for your kids, or maybe even for an upcoming reunion. However, one main obstacle stands in your way. Joining a health club almost brings you to a state of panic. Maybe working out in the same room with all of those hard bodies gives you flash-backs of high school gym class, being picked last for the kickball team or failing the mile run. You may be afraid that people will stare at you, that you won’t be able to figure out how to use the machines, and that you will look silly performing what you think is exercise. The fears of intimidation and embarrassment may have kept you from using an expensive membership in the past, wasting your hard-earned money.

All of these fears are very understandable, and instead of brushing them under the carpet and discounting your feelings, face them head on, and come up with some solutions to these obstacles. Here are some ways to get started with your exercise program that may make you feel more comfortable.

Start your workout program at home.

Get comfortable with exercising in the peace and coziness of your own home before venturing out to exercise in front of others. Find some exercise videos to fit your exercise level on You Tube or provided on demand by your cable company. Check your cable listings for any scheduled group workout programs that you can record and do at your leisure. These programs can help you learn correct form for many different exercises, making you feel more comfortable with the movements. Invest in some hand weights or exercise bands for the added resistance that you will need to build muscle tissue.

Take your workout outside.

On nice days, put on your athletic shoes and take your workout to the outdoor trails. If you have a dog, take him or her with you. If you have a toddler, bring the stroller. Regular walking, hiking or jogging are great ways to burn fat and get into shape quickly. Look online for the trails in your area. Go to your local high school and walk around the track or perform a few sets of bleachers. Look for parks that have outdoor obstacle courses- you may be able to get some of your resistance training out of the way by doing a few pushups or pull ups on the bars and benches that you find. If the weather is bad, drive to the mall and do a couple laps before the stores open.

Consider the recreation centers in your area.

Once you feel a bit more comfortable about your exercise routine, visit some of the recreation centers in your area. You will be surprised that most of its members are beginner to intermediate exercisers, just like you. Ask about the programming that your local recreation center offers. You may find some fun classes to take with other adults in your exercise bracket. Many recreation centers come stocked with weight rooms and cardiovascular equipment, and there is usually someone on the floor to help you if you have a question. Because most recreation centers are family-oriented, you may be able to get other members of your family on board in participating in other activities the same time that you choose to exercise.

Visit a personal training studio.

If you feel like it is time to take your exercise program to the next level, a personal training studio may be a good move for you. Personal training studios offer personal training services in a quieter, more intimate environment. A personal training studio isn’t meant for a membership base, and is used only for people who make an appointment with their personal trainer. At a personal training studio, you would work with one personal trainer, who would show you how to perform each exercise correctly, give you advice on your exercise program design, guide you in the area of proper eating habits and help you reach your fitness goals.

When you are finally ready for a gym membership…

If you feel that you are ready to join a gym, shop around before making a decision. Usually, a membership sales person will give you a tour of the facility. He or she will give you insight on how valuable a sense of community and a high level of customer service are to their club. If your sales person is pushy and intimidating, then that gym probably isn’t a good fit for you. Also, make sure that the gym meets all of your needs. If you work out before work and go directly to the office, make sure that the locker room facilities meet your needs. If you need child care, check out the child care programs to make sure they are adequate. Ask for a guest pass to try out the gym before you commit to a membership. You may find that it is hard to find a piece of cardiovascular equipment to use, or that there is a line for the showers during the time that you work out, which can be an inconvenience. If you are interested in group exercise, look at the schedule to make sure it fits with yours.

Once you have found a gym to belong to, take advantage of all of the new member services that the gym offers. For instance, sign up for the orientation, which is usually given by a personal trainer, and get all of your questions answered about how to use the equipment. Some clubs even offer a couple of complimentary personal training sessions for you to get acquainted with the facility.

Even the most avid exerciser can feel intimidated when exercising in a new gym for the first few times. The most important thing you can do to make this gym your new “home” is by developing a sense of community as quickly as possible. Most health clubs offer a variety of activities in which you can participate, and meet new people. Get out of your comfort zone and strike up a conversation with the woman next to you on the treadmill. Find group classes that fit your exercise level- you will see and meet regular attendees, who will become your friends. Try to recruit some of your friends from the office to join the club with you- you may even get a free month of membership for any referrals.

Congratulations on making the decision to get in shape and improve your quality of life this year. Do not let a little thing like a gym membership keep you from realizing success. So, don’t push the issue until you feel that you are truly ready to join a gym. And remember, you don’t need a gym membership to succeed in reaching your fitness goals. All you need is determination.

 
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