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Fitness, General Health

Overcoming the Fear of Going to a Gym

By Shannon Cole on Mar 10, 2023 9:30:00 AM
5 Minutes Reading Time


You signed up for your gym membership, paid your annual and first month fees, but now you’re hesitating to get your first workout in.

For a multitude of reasons, something is holding you back, and just the thought of walking into the gym is making you nervous.

So let’s talk about it!

First, it is totally normal to be feeling any sort of fear or trepidation before your first gym workout. If you are not familiar with proper form and technique, have never worked out before, or you feel like you may be judged (you won’t, but we’ll get to that later), it is completely understandable. So before we move forward, just know that you shouldn’t feel embarrassed for how you feel. Many people experience the same emotions when they are new to a gym, and remember that at some point, every gym-goer in the facility was new at some point as well.  

Where Do We Start?

With the little things! These may seem irrelevant or insignificant, but having these items ready for you may be the confidence boosters you need:

  • Get your playlist ready. I, personally, enjoy my podcasts when I work out, but having the right music for your workout session can help set the tone. Maybe it’s something bubbly and current, or hard rock that will really get your heart rate going. Whatever it is, make it something that will motivate you and get you excited.
  • Dress the part. Nothing beats the feeling of great, quality clothing that fits well. When we look our best, we feel our best. I know, it’s just the gym, and many people are totally fine in their sweats and old t-shirts, but brands like Vuori offer a refreshing line of workout and lifestyle clothing that will help you look and feel the part. There are many other great athletic brands out there, so find your favorite and get shopping!
  • Do your research. Spending some time researching basic but effective exercises, and how to properly perform each movement, will reduce the risk of injury and help reassure yourself that you’re doing things correctly. The gym can be intimidating, but by looking up different machines, what they do, and muscles they work, you’ll have a better understanding of what exercises to do that day.

*To help get you started, Youtube beginner, gym exercises for the lats, pecs, quads, hamstrings, and shoulders. Note 2 exercises for each muscle group, and have them ready, either on your phone or on paper, when you go to the gym. Mind Pump TV is a good place to start*

  • If you want something more structured, MAPS Starter lays it all out for you with helpful exercise videos, so you can visualize how to perform each movement. 

While You’re There

You made it! Your water bottle is ready, and your workout for the day is prepped.

Here is what you do next: 

  • Do not worry about anyone else. To be honest, other gym members are caught up in what they are trying to do, not in how you look or whether you belong or not. Everyone belongs in an environment that encourages health and wellness. You are doing an AMAZING thing for body, mind, and spirit–pat yourself on the back and know that even though there is a learning curve, you are taking the first, and hardest step.
  • If you have questions, don’t be afraid to ask. More often than not, there is usually a trainer available if you have questions regarding form or how to work a certain machine. They want to make a good impression so that they can hopefully train you in the near future, so you don’t need to feel like you are bothering them. That’s their job! If there isn’t a trainer around, someone nearby would be happy to help you. I’ve never seen anyone not help a fellow gym member when asked to either spot during a lift or explain the benefits of an exercise they’re doing. As I said, everyone is there with the common goal to feel and/or look their best.
  • When in doubt, start light. Many new gym-goers fear they will get hurt. One easy way to prevent an injury is to use a light enough weight that you can complete around 15 reps with. While maintaining good form (which will get easier with practice), it’s pretty hard to injure yourself with a light resistance. As you get more comfortable, you can start increasing the resistance, which can be in as few as 3–4 weeks. 

And finally, make the gym a habit and part of your new routine. The more you go, the easier it will be to execute movements with proper form, and the better you will feel.

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Shannon Cole

Shannon Cole is an ISSA certified personal trainer and lives in the Dallas area. She is a certified nutrition coach through NASM and NCI, and is currently pursuing her M.S. in Sports Science and Rehabilitation. After obtaining her B.A. in Journalism and Mass Communication she eventually gravitated to personal training, and hasn't turned back since. Her passion for athletics and fitness initially stemmed from her high school years playing golf, and her love for the sport still hasn't faded; her career goal is to obtain her Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) certification and develop strength and conditioning programs for golfers. You can usually find her working out in her garage gym, or training for the next Spartan Race with her husband.

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