Walking into a gym for the first time can be intimidating, especially if you're not some gym rat who's simply switching workout spots. When you haven't worked out before, have no idea what any machine is called, let alone how it works, and are out of shape, walking into a gym filled with know-it-alls can be pretty terrifying.
But remember that everyone was new once, and you're literally a week or two away from knowing all you need to know about machines, heart rates, inclines, levels, laps, and more.
The first thing to do is ask around and check reviews. Then ask for a free trial week. Most gyms do this in the hope that you'll join. If you're still unsure, join a gym that allows month-to-month memberships.
If the place seems too big and complicated:
Gyms can be labyrinths of fancy machines and people looking like they know what everything is for and how it works. If it looks intimidating, ask for a full tour and for someone to spend time with you to show you how each machine works and how it'll benefit your body. Write it all down and ask plenty of questions.
If it still seems too much, choose a smaller gym with fewer members and machines. This setting may benefit someone who gets nervous of super gyms and super sized machines.
If the clientele seem too perfect (or flirty) :
Truth be told, the vast majority of gym members are there to work out and get out. But some do like to strut their stuff, show their wares and check out other members, make a pass or two or show negativity to those who aren't in great shape (yet) . Stay away from this crowd and shut anyone down who interferes with your workout.
Stick the those who are there to exercise and go home. If it remains a problem, choose a gym that specializes in women's health, like Curves, Contours or Lady of America. This will stop the meat-market aspect and might even gain you a few girlfriends for support.
If you feel weird exercising alone or are losing momentum:
The vast majority of gyms hold classes. Join one at the beginning of a session so that you won't feel like the new kid on the block (many gyms let you try one class for free to see if you like it.) Try to find a work-out buddy.
Sticking a class out for the duration will get you used to the gym atmosphere and help you to become more comfortable with your surroundings. Being part of a class is also a good way to be held accountable. You'll be missed if you don't show up.
If you still need help and encouragement:
This is normal! Working out is hard work! Save a little every week and see if hiring a personal trainer who will work with you on occasion can help you continue with your progress. Sometimes you can buy a package and get four sessions for the price of three or something similar. Always look for deals!
Personal trainers can motivate and guide you. They often allow semi-private sessions so you'll still get personal attention but at half the cost. Ask others around you if they'd like to split the cost and remember that most personal trainers also have an education in nutrition. Get all the information you can from them during your workout. They are usually happy to help.
Finally, if you want to be a good gym member yourself:
Bring disinfectant wipe to clean off your machines. Towels just dry off the sweat, rather than removing it. Don't be afraid to smile or encourage others. They'll open up and do the same for you. Sign up for a work-out buddy, tennis partner or walking-friend. Many gyms or centers have notice boards for this.
And remember that the only thing different between your out-of-shape body and the fit-looking person next to you is hard work, and time. Commit to both and you're half-way there already.
What makes a gym worth joining? Do you have criteria before you join or are you just looking for machines and a place to use them?
Edited by Jody Smith