Feeling Comfortable in the Gym

For many people the gym can be daunting. Common excuses include not being a gym person, not feeling fit enough, too many people, the age demographic, not feeling like they know what they are doing, or feeling like people are watching them. Like it or not, the gym is the most successful way to get strong, healthy, and prevent injuries and as it is the new year and time to turn over a new leaf, here are a few coping mechanisms to help you gain confidence:

1. Hire a Kinesiologist/trainer. Not only will they create a routine appropriate for you, they will help you to become comfortable in the gym and with the equipment as well. Often clients report how focused they feel during their workout and that they do not even notice other individuals. There is also a private training studio available for those that need a few sessions before getting out on the gym floor.
2. Find low peak hours. Going to the gym before 3:30pm when the après ski, after work, and after school crowd all exercise can be easier for those intimidated by numbers. The gym opens at 6am and is usually pretty quiet during the day.
3. Hat and iPod. If you only have a limited amount of time, stay focused by plugging your music in and pulling on your cap so you will not feel disturbed.
4. Read the gym etiquette rules. Most gyms will have a poster of gym etiquette which usually includes wiping equipment down after use and not slamming the weights. If you have a few sets left and someone wants to use your machine, offer to ‘work in’ with them, taking turns on the equipment.
5. Bring a friend. You may find it easier to conquer your gym fears by going with a friend. Make sure your friend has your best interest in mind and isn’t a distraction!
6. Ask the staff. If you are confused about something, the front desk staff usually can give you an easy answer.
7. You have to start somewhere. People who seem fit and comfortable at the gym probably started in the same boat as you. Most people are actually focused on what they are doing, not on what you are doing. But if they do notice you I guarantee they are thinking ‘good for them’ rather than anything negative.
8. Set goals. If you find yourself feeling discouraged, remember your goals and keep plugging away. Writing down an attainable goal at the beginning of your program can help you stay focused. Fitness is a lifestyle and every time you make it through the door you are one step closer to your goal!

Ideally, you should strive for two to three visits to the gym weekly incorporating cardiovascular, core, and strength training exercises. However, your first goal should be getting through the door two to three times per week. Good luck and enjoy the rewards of good health this year!