I'm a long-time gym rat, who is absolutely in love with all gyms, working out, the whole deal! I think people like me often forget what it was like at the very start to walk into a totally foreign place with confusing-looking machines and devices and try to figure out what was going on hopefully without looking like too much of an idiot... Trying out different gyms regularly though gives me a little taste of that. This week I joined Lifetime Fitness! Now I know everyone loves Lifetime Fitness and thinks it's the gold standard of gyms. It's awesome in many ways for me - it opens super-early, has tons of equipment, has childcare and children's activities, and boasts a pool, sports courts, and some great classes I want to check out, but usually I'm more drawn to the local independently-owned sorta grungy gym that's five minutes from my house and is maybe the size of the change rooms at Lifetime. Walking in today, I had to ask where the women's change room was as I had forgotten and couldn't seem to find it anywhere, at my trial of the club I managed to lock all my stuff in one of their nifty lockers and not be able to get it out without employee assistance so I make sure I've got that figured out this time before I hit the gym. As I walk up the stairs to the gym floor I wonder where anything is, I see a sea of cardio equipment and head that way... I figure I can hop on a treadmill and get my bearings, people-watch a bit, and try to figure out what I'll do next! As I adjust the speed and incline, I wonder how anyone ever starts up at a gym as a total beginner. I can't even imagine walking into this giant many-story fitness complex as a newbie... And then there's the local hardcore boxing gym I usually go to, which has it's own challenges for brand new gym-goers, I even felt a little self-conscious that I was a bit of a little girly-girl in a big beasty gym full of "meatheads" (and that's me, who actually kinda considers herself a "meathead" and has been working out hardcore in gyms for over twenty years!) I have great respect for gym newbies for taking that giant step into the gym and am always trying to work at helping people who are intimidated by gyms/free weight areas/even Zumba classes to feel comfortable and confident in those environments so that they want to be at the gym! If you don't actually want to be there, it will be very hard to get there consistently and get your workout in! Many people make the blanket statement that they hate the gym, but have to go to lose weight/get fit/etc. If this is you, I first urge you to immerse yourself into a gym environment, really give it a chance, do an orientation session, go with a friend, try cardio, try weights, try classes, see what you love there. Go in with a good attitude, not the same old 'I hate the gym' attitude. Go consistently, go every day, really immerse yourself in the scene. Don't obsess about everyone looking at you or be afraid to look stupid or make a mistake. People are pretty into themselves at the gym, focused on their own workout (or they should be) and even a pro like me has fallen off decline benches, made huge unexpected clangs with weight machines, and had to jump off the stair climber after only a minute because it was just too hard! If someone's going to focus on your workout instead of their own, that's really something wrong with them - after all these years, I still have people every now and then come up to me to tell me I'm doing some exercise wrong (when maybe I'm just doing something more advanced beyond their scope) or tell me how to use a machine, so don't take it personally! Secondly, don't give up after trying one gym or type of thing at the gym... maybe it's the wrong vibe for you... try various gyms, they all feel so very different. Thirdly, if you really give it an honest chance and still aren't in love, there are so many different exercise options that don't feel like the gym, but have the same health benefits - try playing a sport, learn dance, train for a 10K run, do yoga at home, walk lots, the possibilities are endless!
I'd love to hear about all your gym adventures, what are your challenges at the gym, have you found the right gym for you? Let's keep the discussion going...
Fitness YouTuber, bellydancer, fitness addict, mom, and author of Loving Yourself Fit!