Getting to feel comfortable in a gym isn’t always easy. As many people know, gymtimidation is real!
Research by Sport England’s The Girl Can campaign found that fear of judgement is top of the reasons that women under 40 don’t exercise. It found that women were worried about being judged on their appearance during and after exercise, on their ability, or for spending time exercising instead of looking after their families or working.
More widely, research by PureGym showed that “50% of non-gym members say they find the idea of going to the gym scary, with one in five saying they would find it very scary”.
Whoever you are, if you’re keen to get started at a gym but don’t feel confident, here are a few tips to help you navigate the journey to bossing it at the gym:
If you haven’t done any physical activity for a long time, you could follow some workouts online to build up some strength, flexibility and fitness so that you feel more at ease at the gym. YouTube accounts like Joe Wicks and PopSugar are great places to start.
You might find smaller, independent ones have more community, or you might like the anonymity of the larger chains. You can often try them out before joining.
Do the gym tour if it’s on offer. Gyms often have trainers who will show you around when you start, which will help you with machines you don’t know and perhaps get you started with a plan. Whether you have a tour or not, ask the trainers questions if you’re not sure.
You'll help your confidence if you're wearing clothes that you feel comfortable in. They don’t have to be tight fitting, just stretchy. Most women will wear a sports bra for comfort.
When you start, don’t go at the busiest times as you’ll likely have to wait around for the equipment you want to use, which won’t make you feel more confident. Before and after work, and during lunch, are often the busiest times. You can ask the front desk for some insider info on when most people come.
Consider joining a class for your skill level as you may find that helps you feel more at home and stick to your plans.
Don’t start off with a complicated plan. If you don’t get a plan on your gym tour, do a little research online about beginner routines that might suit you. You don't need complicated plans or exercises to make progress. Remember to warm up and cool down to
Remind yourself why you want to go in the first place, set yourself small and achievable tasks and sort out a good playlist to keep yourself going.
"The secret of getting ahead is getting started"
- Mark Twain, writer
Take a drink, a small towel if you sweat a lot and stuff for a shower. And don’t be too hard on yourself as it’s totally normal to feel uncomfortable in a new gym. Just like the process of becoming more active, feeling more at home in the gym will be a gradual process.
Don’t start with huge ambitions which are hard to achieve, start small and celebrate your wins as you go! And remember, everyone had their own first day at the gym.
Learn how Active Teams boosts workplace health and performance using 'The Miracle Cure' of activity.