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To be too scared to join the gym?

(21 Posts)
MallyBoo Tue 23-Jun-15 18:24:35

I am early 30s. BMI around 20. Have always struggled to gain weight so would love to get fitter, build muscle, tone up and gain weight healthily as opposed to throwing empty calories down my throat.

I've never set foot in a gym. I currently do no exercise. I really want to join one but I'm terrified! I wouldn't know what do do, how to use any equipment, where to start etc. I keep looking online at the posh lovely gym near us, just saw a pic of the pool and was flooded with the thought of 'what if all the lanes were full, what's the etiquette?'. I know how silly this sounds but I've always had anxiety and I feel it's standing in the way of me starting a health kick. Im a stereotypical introvert. I wouldn't even know what to wear!

I'm worried id feel stupid in front of experienced gym goers or make a faux pas and embarrass myself. I'm well aware it's a confidence thing and in order to boost my self esteem, I need to front it out but... Where do I start! What do you do in the gym? As in, once you've walked through the door?

I can't be the only person to have felt this way. I really want to go for it but fear is holding me back! I wish I was more outgoing and confident.

BitOutOfPractice Tue 23-Jun-15 18:28:10

The staff can give you a full induction on all the equipment and at my (Virgin) gym they are all so lovely and friendly and helpful.

If you had some cash to splash you could take some personal trainer sessions to set you up a good programme and escort you round a couple of times till you feel more confident

Go for it - there's all sorts of shapes and sizes and fitness levels and abilities at my gym - nobody bats an eyelid.

Good luck with it all

BeansInBoots Tue 23-Jun-15 18:35:12

I have really bad anxiety, it took me over a year to join the gym!

Most people at mine will wear gym trousers like these

I have these trainers

And I wear a baggy top from asda

Hair scraped back, no make up.

At the gym your less likely to see anyone bothered by someone overweight.. Everyone is there because they are trying to change!!

If you want to join then walk in and go to the desk, say you are interested in joining and ask for a tour, I found this useful because then I had a rough idea as to where I needed to go!

BeansInBoots Tue 23-Jun-15 18:36:09

I'm happy to answer anymore questions, I had about 10 threads going on different things before I joined a gym!!

ClashCityRocker Tue 23-Jun-15 18:38:36

I felt exactly the same before joining.

The first time is the hardest - and then you quickly realise that actually, no-one cares what youre get a wide range of people at most gyms and a lot of them will be feeling the same as you. And soon it just becomes a routine thing.

Most gym memberships offer an introductory session with a PT - this can be useful to build confidence on the machines and will give you a chance to discuss your aims.

Look for off-peak membership - this will give you an indication of when the gym is quieter - ours is dead after 8pm and quite quiet on weekends. If you're feeling a bit nervous, try going during the quiter times.

When I first started going to the gym, I didn't really know what to do. I would go in, get changed, and spend ten minutes on the bike, running machine, air glider and weight machines. As a workout it was pretty much just fannying around but it gave me the confidence to develop 'proper workouts' and use some of the equipment I wasn't sure of, such as the free weights.

Get signed up!

AmberNectarine Tue 23-Jun-15 18:40:22

While there is absolutely no reason for you to worry about joining a gym - believe me everyone is far to preoccupied by their own pain to think anything of you - and you'd soon get the hang of it, another option is exercising at home. I do this because I have a gym membership at work but I'm on sabbatical so can't use it. There are SO many good DVDs/YouTube tutorials out there now. I've got a set of weights and using those and my own body weight, a step and a couple of sturdy chairs there isn't much I can't do that I could do at the gym. If you're anxious that could be an option?

formerbabe Tue 23-Jun-15 18:43:14

I have been to plenty of gyms...posh and not so posh! No one pays any attention to anyone! They are full of old people, young people, thin people, fat people, gym bunny's, gym novices! They are not at all intimidating IMO. You will get an induction and most gym machines are piss easy to use!

MrsItsNoworNotatAll Tue 23-Jun-15 18:46:29

Aww don't be scared! sad

Everyone who uses the gym was once a new starter as well.

As a pp has said. The staff will give you an induction. Show you how to use the machines. It's in their own interest to do this so as you don't injure yourself. Once you've had this away you go.

No one will care what you look like as they'll be too busy with what they're doing .

Good luck xx

NRomanoff Tue 23-Jun-15 18:46:53

When I joined my gym I weighed 9 stone more than I do now and worried about all those things too.

When I lost some weight I started lifting weights and am now a power lifters. It took me two months of trying before I dare enter the weights floor alone.

There are a few options. View a few gyms and see where you feel more comfortable. You will then feel more comfortable asking questions about things like pool etiquette etc. The gym should give you a full induction and most big chain gyms give free sessions with a member of staff when you join and every couple of months. Although the staff are usually fitness instructors not Personal Trainers. But still helps.

You could also get a personal trainer for the first few weeks to get used how things work at that gym. They will also give you advice on nutrition. Again, finding a good PT can be hard. Go from recommendations of people you know, if you can.

Personally I don't like chain gyms. I prefer smaller privatley owned gyms, but I am lucky as my small gym suits me. Mainly weights, boot camps, circuits, kick boxing equipment.

You will just have to bite the bullet though at some point

bishboschone Tue 23-Jun-15 18:48:51

I joined in January , I felt the same especially with the pool as I wasn't sure of what to do but it was ok . I do a bit of everything .

bishboschone Tue 23-Jun-15 18:49:27

Meant to add .. Is fine .. I still feel like a plum but I keep going .

UsainWho Tue 23-Jun-15 18:51:37

Would you consider classes instead of actually going into the weights/cardio room? I do circuits, body pump and body attack amongst others, you are fully instructed throughout and they do a lot of the same kind of muscle toning work you'd do in the actual gym. I go to the classes at a gym, not in a church hall or anything, if the gym you are looking at is posh enough to have a pool they'll have a class timetable. Might give you the confidence boost to start doing your own thing further down the line.

BlankXpression Tue 23-Jun-15 19:01:44

I'm a former exercise-phobe who joined a gym in January and it has been hard, I won't lie: a bit like learning to drive (weirdly) scary and you feel a complete incompetent dickhead for ages, but then suddenly you're doing it effortlessly and can't remember why you were ever stressed about it.

I was SO self conscious and panicky every time I went for ages, but its like any routine - it becomes familiar and even comforting after a while, and now once I am there and 'in the zone' I honestly couldn't give a shit what anyone thinks of me. I'm doing it for ME, not some random at the gym, iyswim.

My top tips are:

Look at a few gyms and join the one that makes you feel most comfortable/least intimidated. My gym has a hardcore of skinny minnies and musclehead guys, but it also has LOADS of oldies, overweight mums and trying-desperately-to-get-fit-ers (normal people basically).
Also, scout out if the gym has quiet corners where you can drag a mat and some weights over and do a little workout in semi-privacy. I did this when I first started lifting weights as I couldn't bear anyone to see how uselessly weak and unfit I was grin. I'm much braver now.

Do an induction so you get a rough idea of how everything works and where everything is.

If you can, get one or two personal training sessions OR if not download a programme/routine or two that you can do at the gym. Then you know what you're supposed to be doing and don't feel such a dill.

Go regularly. The more you go, the less scary it feels, and it starts to just be an automatic routine you don't need to think about too much.

Bring some music you like on your phone and a pair of headphones. Once my own music is blaring in my ears I pretty much lose track of what anyone else is doing or if they are looking at me.

Get over the fear of going bright red/sweating/grunting/looking like you're about to keel over with the effort. These are GOOD things. You're not supposed to look gorgeous when you're working out.

Good luck! I have gone from a lifetime of sitting on my arse eating biscuits to working out four times a week and I bloody love it. Its improved my shape, health and mental health no end. Definitely a convert <can you tell? grin>

MallyBoo Tue 23-Jun-15 19:10:52

I've considered home DVDs but I think I need the gym for my confidence too. I feel the need to break out of my comfort zone, I need to break past the wall of fear I've built around me due to internalising stress for the past few years.

You all make it sound so worthwhile! It's making me excited. I want to do this! I know it would be so good for my mental health and physical well being. Wish I had a friend to go with! I'm such a wreck these days, I'd be scared to make eye contact with anyone. A PT is a good idea. Would they think I was a buffoon or see me as a challenge? Zero fitness to fitness fanatic kind of challenge?

Can I join normal classes if my fitness level is 0? How would I keep up? What else does everyone wear? This is so nerve wracking but the rewards sound incredible.

StrumpersPlunkett Tue 23-Jun-15 19:17:31

I know exactly what you are feeling but add that I am 5 stone overweight.
I was a total plum. Walked to reception and totally shaking said "I am a new member I haven't done any exercise for 20 years and I am petrified.... Help me!!"
They were lovely. They showed me round and then said why not start with coming for a swim a few times a week. It was brilliant. I have been going 3 times a week since January. With each step in confidence I have gone to reception and said I am ready what is the next step?
Go for it!!!

SorchaN Tue 23-Jun-15 20:34:32

Another vote for talking to the gym staff. I've always found they're really friendly and helpful, and they want you to enjoy your time there and to find it useful. Just go for it!

punter Tue 23-Jun-15 20:54:33

Go for it! I went to various gyms before signing up with a privately run gym and sports centre. No one else gives a monkeys what you do or look like.. You feel so much better for doing it and your head will be in a good place as well. The staff depends on members for their own livelihood so they will be nice to you!

Jdee41 Tue 23-Jun-15 20:59:52

Don't worry about it. Our local gym won't let anyone use the facilities without an induction, so if your gym is the same then you'll get to try out the stuff and find out what you like.

Once you've been a few times you'll probably see that most people there are casual users like yourself, so there's nothing to be intimidated by. There might also be some classes you can join smile

BigChocFrenzy Tue 23-Jun-15 23:00:05

You'll love it and beginners usually improve very quickly. In a few weeks you'll be amazed at how much fitter you are and how much better you feel.

A personal trainer session or two can teach you good lifting form and help you gain confidence.
Do try classes too: more fun than being on your own. Ask during induction which classes are suitable for beginners.

Wear a comfy top, trousers or shorts, trainers. Best to have a sports bra, to keep your assets in place, especially if you jump about or run.
Take a towel to wipe your sweat. Sweating and panting are GOOD.
Also take a plastic bottle of still water. They may have a fountain where you can fill it up.

Simple etiquette:
. Wipe down any cardio machine after use - there will be a roll of paper towel with disinfectant spray nearby.
. If you use weight machines, put your towel down underneath you
. When you've finished with dumbbells, put them back in the rack; When you finish with a barbell, take off the weight plates and put them all back where you found them. Ditto medicine balls, BOSU etc
. Don't try to start conversations with anyone who looks busy working out - socialising is done in the bar area. If you need advice, best to ask the staff.
. Don't talk on your mobile in the training area. If you must have it with you, keep it on mute and go outside to take calls.

crazykat Wed 24-Jun-15 15:21:17

I second pp who say look for off peak membership times even if you sign up for anytime membership as you can start going when it's quieter and build your confidence.

A few personal training sessions will show you what to do, if that's too expensive there are loads of programmes online. Most gyms offer an induction as standard so that you know how to safely use the machines.

Classes are also good for confidence, look for beginner classes to start off with.

If you want to gain weight then resistance training with weights is a good starting point. My dh has always had trouble gaining weight and the only way he's managed is through weight training and protein shakes. He's tried weight training before but this time he added protein shakes and it really made a difference, he gained lean muscle rather than throwing empty calories down his neck and gaining fat.

NRomanoff Wed 24-Jun-15 16:03:47

Good PTs don't give a shit about where you are when you start. They love seeing changes in clients, both inside and out. My PT has definitely helped my confidence. Have been training with him 3 years and wouldn't be without him.

You can do most classes regardless of ability or fitness levels. As you can just take it at your own pace. Kettle bells for example, I just challenge myself to go heavier or do more reps than last time.

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