You don’t know where anything is, you are unsure of what to do first, or you feel like everyone’s looking at you and knows you’re a newbie.
Even gym veterans can occasionally feel a bit nervous walking into a new environment -- I know I do at times, and I've been a member of various gyms for the past 23 years! It helps to have a few tactics to fall back on when you feel some trepidation walking through those gym doors.
Try these tips next time you hit the gym:
Grab your iPod and make a playlist of fun, upbeat songs. Not only will the music pump you up for the workout, but it will also distract you from your nervousness. I'm a big fan of cheesy pop when I'm working out, like Lady Gaga or Kelly Clarkson. Instantly puts me in a good mood. Other people swear by old-school hip hop or rock. Find what works for you.
Have a Plan.
A lot of the uncertainty comes from not knowing what to do once you get there or if you're doing the exercises correctly. Get ideas from a fitness-minded friend, find a workout plan from a credible book (like the New Rules of Lifting series), or hire a trainer, whether in-person or online.
Hire a Trainer.
Most gyms offer a complimentary personal training session to new members, so take advantage. A trainer can answer questions and take you through a workout, demonstrating exercises and how to use the equipment so you know what to do next time.
Easier said than done, right? Believe me, I know. As a shy introvert, I know how tough it can be to put yourself out there, even if only in a small way. Simply say hello to someone and compliment them on their shoes or top. This is an easy, low risk way of introducing yourself and segueing into asking them a question (about a class or their routine, etc.). Most people are more than happy to share their knowledge. Or chat up the gym staff. You'll start to feel like you belong when you see a familar friendly face or two every time you walk in the door.
Fake It Till You Make It.
Act confident --- head up, good posture, and walk with a purpose. Smile when you make eye contact with someone. This is one tactic that works with everything in your life. I can't count how many times I have heard this advice and thought to myself "easier said than done," but it really does work. Even the most confident and skilled among us has to fake it every once in awhile. No shame in that.
Rest assured that you aren't the only one to feel less than comfortable in the gym. Everyone was once a beginner and felt the same way. No matter your fitness level or experience, you belong there just like anyone else, and in no time you'll feel like it too.
Let me know how it goes! Do you have any tips and tricks of your own to share? If you know someone who is venturing into the gym for the first time (or maybe it's just been a while), pass this article along.