Going to the gym for the first time can be intimidating! Each gym has its own customs, culture, and rules. It feels like everyone knows what they’re doing and where to go except you.
You also might have the fear of feeling embarrassed or judged.
This can be a lot to handle for someone looking to start a fitness plan, and it’s no surprise that a lot of people get scared before they even start.
When I turned 30 I decided that it was time for me to become the best me I could possibly be. Between playing sports, running and home workouts I’ve always been pretty active so I wanted to try something different.
I wanted to step out of my comfort zone and try something absolutely terrifying.
I decided I wanted to hit the gym and start weightlifting. For me, the gym brought a whole new level of anxiety to the table as a woman and a beginner. I loathed the feeling that everyone would be watching and judging how I was using the equipment or how much I couldn’t lift. But even though I was afraid and had anxiety about this whole process, I didn’t let that stop me.
Instead, I wrote down all the unknown elements I would face during the start of my fitness journey:
- What workout plan is best for me?
- What do I expect to get out of my workout plan?
- What’s the best gear from head to toe for my workouts?
- When’s the best time for me to workout?
- What to do when I get to the gym?
For me, it was important to answer these questions because starting a new journey is about the mental as much as the physical. Having answers to these questions made me feel more confident before I even stepped foot into the gym which was a huge boost.
1. Choosing a Fitness Program
We all know choosing a fitness program is not necessarily an easy task since there are so many out there. Many people select a fitness program based on the goal they want to achieve. Others find fitness plans that they can fit into the busy schedules. But I decided to go another route by truly getting to know myself at the heart of things. This helped me understand what fitness program would keep me interested, motivated, and determined.
So what made me choose my current program?
Knowing I didn’t look as amazing as I felt on the inside, that I didn’t always make the healthiest food choices, and that I gave up on myself when I couldn’t see the changes in myself were all reasons why I chose the program I did.
On this journey, like I mentioned before, I decided to venture into weightlifting. I knew weightlifting would help me become strong which is something I’ve always felt on the inside and now wanted to reflect on the outside. So when I came across a weightlifting program where each and every day offered a different workout routine I knew this program would help me become strong while also keeping me interested.
I thought since I wasn’t doing the same damn thing every day I would be motivated to push forward.
When it comes to finding the best fitness program think about what will challenge you while keeping you motivated to continue your fitness journey.
Here are 6 things to help you find the perfect fitness plan:
Identify Your Goals
In any fitness journey, goals are critical to success. Goals allow us to hold yourself accountable. So when setting goals get specific and don’t leave anything out. The more specific you are the better off you will be.
Set goals that you can realistically achieve. Consider all aspects of your life, the time you can devote, and what you’re willing to give up. Whether you decide to workout at home or at the gym commit just commit.
Consider Your Lifestyle
Pick a fitness program that will fit into your lifestyle. If you have a hectic work schedule don’t over do it by picking a fitness program that will require tons of time working out. Happiness is key to your success in a good program. Your exercise program should reduce stress not create more of it.
When starting a fitness journey we all need guidance, which is why it can be extremely helpful to have a fitness coach or mentor to help you along the way. Find a coach or mentor that will understand what you want to accomplish, so they can create a program that is suited perfectly for you.
Choose a Program That You Will Enjoy
When you enjoy your fitness program not only will you have a little fun but you will learn a ton about yourself. And the best part about a fitness program you enjoy is you’ll be more willing to stick with it which will lead to awesome results.
Choose a Program That Is Right for Your Fitness Level
Any fitness program you choose should reflect your current fitness level. Starting at the right fitness level will ensure that you don’t get frustrated or give up on yourself too soon.
Once you’ve selected a fitness program you still need to wake up and make it happen. Unfortunately choosing a fitness program won’t make all of your fears disappear so here are some tips to make the start a bit easier.
It’s a Group Thing
There is always safety in numbers so take a group class. While taking a group class you quickly see everyone is different and everyone will be struggling together. You will also discover you’re probably not the worst one there which is always an awesome feeling.
Another option is to let an expert guide you by mapping out a fitness routine that is right for you. Even if your wallet doesn’t allow for a long-term partnership with a trainer, you should consider taking advantage of at least one session.
One training session will make you feel more comfortable and relaxed at the gym making it less scary when it’s time to return on your own. You might feel awkward following a trainer around, but a few minutes of awkwardness is much better than constant confusion at the gym.
Newbies to the Back
Whether taking a class or going it alone, own the back row. Claiming a spot in the back row of a class or listening to your own music on a treadmill in the corner either can get you in the zone and make you feel a little more relaxed.
2. Program to Goals and Expectations
I knew that building up my endurance and strength would take 5 months to a year to see the changes I so desperately wanted if I did things the right way. Doing this program the right way meant there was no point in me trying to achieve a body that is not achievable for me…let’s face it I’m never going to look like Kate Upton! So to keep things more realistic here are a few hacks that have kept me going during this journey:
Long Term Goals
Setting goals is crucial to achieving success. At the beginning of my journey, I set a specific goal to complete a 90-day program where I held myself accountable by measurements, not the scale.
Small Goals to Keep You Motivated
Keeping small milestones are an awesome way not to get frustrated by the amount of time it’s taking to achieve your long term goal. When I first started this fitness journey, I got my ass into the gym by rewarding myself with a new workout shirt every time I hit the gym 6 days in a row. As a woman, nothing feels better than some retail therapy.
Give Your Body Time to Improve
Give your body time to adjust to your new active lifestyle. Changes don’t come fast or easy.
A lot of times when we start working out there is an immediate feel-good feeling but unfortunately, we are dying to see those physical results. However, the sexy silhouette, the loss of fat, and body of muscle come in the long run but don’t let this discourage you.
Don’t forget we all have to start somewhere.
3. Looking the Part
Before I hit the gym I had to think about what type of exercises I would be doing so I could get the appropriate gear to wear. Since I’d be bending over and doing lots of squats while lifting weights I thought it would be best if I didn’t scare people with my big white ass.
With that thought in mind, I opted for leggings and capris. I also decided to go with cute sports bars and matching tanks. I didn’t want anything too flashy but I still wanted to look cute while working out.
4. Find the Best Workout Time For You
When I started thinking about my fears of the gym all I could see was a weight room full of guys who look like they know what they’re doing. So I decided to decrease this fear by hitting the gym during off-peak hours. It was a hell of a lot less intimidating stepping into the gym with only a handful of people rather than a shit ton of people.
I also had the advantage of doing my own thing without fighting over equipment. It definitely made things a lot easier for me so check out your gym during all different times and talk to the staff to see what works best for you.
5. What to Do at The Gym
Before I ever stepped foot in the gym I did two things that made my life and anxiety so much better.
First, I looked at my weightlifting workout the night before and mapped out what I was going to be doing. I didn’t want to waste time wandering around aimlessly feeling like everyone was watching me awkwardly trying to figure out what to do.
Secondly, I did research on the exercises I was going to be doing that day. I wanted to understand how to use the machines and what muscles they would be working. I found so many helpful YouTube tutorials and fitness sites that show you exactly how to use machines and how to perfect your form.
If you don’t know how to tackle a certain cardio machine, look that up as well. Take full advantage of the Internet before you hit the gym so you’re confident and ready to rock once you begin.
Many people find their stride after they visit the gym a few times and realize their fears are overblown. I’ve actually begun to enjoy my workouts, and I realized no one is paying attention to me. They’re focused on themselves just as I am focused on myself.
Begin With Confidence
My last piece of advice I can give when visiting a gym for the first time is to be confident. Confidence is everything and before long, you will actually begin to enjoy the workouts, and get through them like a bad ass chick!