10 tips to get over gym intimidation

Breda O’Driscoll
By Breda O’Driscoll
Founder of bodybuddy.ie, Breda is an ITEC qualified Personal Trainer, Gym Instructor and Health and Wellness Blogger. Breda’s passion is in Health and Wellbeing and helping people find the right balance that works for them - no matter what age, gender, or background. Her belief is that everyone can fall in love with Fitness, they just need to find a way and pace that works for them

Around 12% of total gym memberships are signed up in January but up to 80% quit in the following months.

Although affordibility is a driving factor for some, an astounding 17% quit due to the gym “environment”*. If you feel uncomfortable and intimidated going to the gym, then you can overcome it.

These tips will help you get in the right mind-set and on track to achieving the fittest, happiest version of you.

1. Get with the programme. When you join a gym you should be offered a free consultation with a fitness instructor. A good one will go through your objectives, take your measurements and build you a free programme (based on your likes and dislikes). Grab this with both hands! It’s a membership benefit so why not use it? It really is the SINGLE most important tool you can use to help you get over gym shyness. Let them run through your new programme with you and demo each exercise. Not only will you be more confident handling those big “scary” machines, it will also mean you will hit the ground running with a solid plan of action. It’s also an opportunity to ask questions to help ease your nerves.

2. Buddy up. Rope in a partner to go to the gym. If you can’t find one then try out all the classes and see which one is the best fit for you. Some people just don’t feel comfortable with classes that require more rhythm and co-ordination. If you don’t like dancing then boxercise, zumba or a step class probably aren’t for you. If this is the case go for a weights, spinning or trx class. Classes have a great sense of community that will motivate and encourage you to return.

3. Find the right fitness instructor. The gym can be a completely different experience depending on your personality and the fitness instructor’s style of training. Finding out what style of training suits you is another ingredient to getting over gym shyness. If you are nervous, you are probably not going to respond well to military-style training where someone is shouting over you. Why not watch the class before you decide if it’s for you? Or find out at your initial consultation what kind of classes would suit your preferences.

4. Old habits die hard. This is true. It takes around 2 months before a new behaviour becomes automatic**. So try to stick with the gym for this long. It’s not all about the gym though. You should also pick one other small healthy habit and stick to it. Good examples are:

  • Modify a few ingredients of your regular favourite meals, e.g. swap regular potatoes for sweet potatoes or pasta for quinoa or buckwheat
  • Increase your daily water intake to 2 ltrs
  • Limit the takeaway to the weekend

5. Location, location, location. Choose a gym close to work or on the way home. It will be much harder to avoid when you pass by the door every day.

6. Don’t overdo it. Most people quit too early because they burn themselves out. Be realistic. Ease yourself into it and go at your own pace. The key is to get comfortable with your exercise routine. After 4 weeks, you should be feeling a difference in your clothes and your energy levels should have fired up a little. Then it’s time to challenge yourself a little bit more so. Don’t torture yourself so much that you’re walking like John Wayne after every visit.

7. Park the Paranoia. Don’t be intimidated by the regulars. They are far too busy focusing on their own training to even notice anyone else.

8. Remember your worth. Everyone is there for the same reason. And you deserve to be in the gym just as much as the person next to you.

9. If all else fails…. and you still don’t like the gym, maybe it’s just not for you. There are plenty of other ways to stay fit. Take up jogging with a friend, go for a brisk walk with the dog, whatever works for you. It’s all about developing a sustainable fitness routine that you enjoy.

10. Portion Distortion. If you’re not getting some results after 4 weeks then look no further than your portions. Abs really are made in the kitchen. And there really is no point in going to the gym if you are going to ignore the plate. We can all be guilty of the huge portion sizes, especially during the Winter. This can also pass on bad habits to the younger generation in the house. Scaling down the portion sizes will make a huge difference to your waist. You can start by trying to replace the big dinner plate with a smaller one. For a full guide on portion sizes visit safefood.eu

Hope you enjoyed the read. For more tips, connect with @boddybuddy.ie on social media or visit bodybuddy.ie

*Phillip Lee sport report conducted by Amarach Research, 2014
**European Journal of Social Psychology by Phillippa Lally

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