If the idea of working out in a gym sends you into a full-blown panic attack, you’re not alone. I mean, it’s a building crammed with very sweaty, muscle-y strangers and machines that resemble Medieval torture devices. Pretttty intimidating stuff.
But, let’s face it: In the dead of winter, the options for staying fit tend to dwindle. (Jogging along Kelly Drive kind of loses its appeal once temperatures dip down into the single digits.) So if gymtimidation has put a kink in your workout routine, this list is for you.
We talked with some of Philly’s best trainers and got their advice on how to conquer gymtimidation once and for all. So study up, follow their know-how and kick gymtimidation’s ass. And then celebrate with a spiked peppermint smoothie, because it is almost the weekend, after all.
1. Have a plan.
As RISE Gym owner, Marshall Roy, told us, “Most people feel insecure at the gym because they don’t know what to do, and all of the machines and possibilities are overwhelming. If you have a program to follow, you know exactly what to do, even if you’re not an expert.”
If you’re looking for a ready-made plan to take to the gym, check out our vault of BeWOW workouts!
2. Dress the part.
It’s hard to feel confident when you’re busy stressing about whether or not your leggings are see-through. Luckily, this is an easy fix. Invest in some workout clothes that are actually made for working out. And feel free to learn from my mistakes: Forever21 leggings are NOT workout gear.
Here are some great sites for scoring awesome workout gear without breaking the bank.
3. Try a personal training session.
If you all-too-often find yourself staring at a machine, wondering whether it works your glutes or your triceps, a personal training session would probably come in handy. Trainer Shoshana Katz from Body Cycle Studio encourages taking advantage of personal trainers, saying, “It’s not because I want you to get your butt kicked and not be able to walk the next day; it’s because I want you to get comfortable with the gym. As trainers, we are there as a resource to help answer any questions that you might have about the gym, equipment or classes.”
Checking in with a personal trainer is a great way to get to know the gym and the muscle-y and—let’s be honest—kind of intimidating folks who work in it. Some gyms even offer a complimentary training session to members, so it’s worth asking if yours is among them.
4. Introduce yourself.
Being the new kid in a fitness class is scary, to put in mildly. And the last thing you want to do is stand out, right? But, wrong! When you head into a class for the first time, always introduce yourself to the instructor. As Shoshana told us, “We want to talk to you, make you feel comfortable, find out about injuries. And with something like spin, I need to size you for the bike and discuss form and resistance.”
Learning how to perform an exercise properly is the key to gaining confidence. But no one’s ever going to teach you if you don’t introduce yourself and ‘fess up to being a beginner.
5. Buddy up.
The buddy system is a tried-and-true method when it comes to feeling secure. It worked on those kindergarten field trips, and guess what? It works now. Walking into the gym is way less frightening when you have a friend by your side. And as Shoshana put it, “It can help having a friend to exchange agony glances with you as you both get your butts kicked.” Misery loves company, right?
6. Know that it’s all in your head.
Lastly, know that all of your fellow gym-goers are way too sweaty and delirious to actually take notice of anything that you’re doing, whether it’s right or wrong. So take Marshall’s advice and just “tune out distractions and execute your plan.” You’ll blend right in.