Raise your hand if you’ve ever walked into a local leisure centre, clocked the swathe of fit lycra-clad gym bunnies congregating around various bits of complicated machinery and felt like walking straight back out?
If you’ve just mentally stuck your palm in the air, take solace in the comforting thought that you’re not alone. Feeling confident in the gym can be hard, especially if you’re new to exercise. In fact, recent research by Sure Women found that one in four women feel too intimidated to regularly hit up their local fitness space.
A study by the brand revealed that almost half (49%) of women polled have at some point felt negatively judged when working out, with the biggest worries including not being “good enough” to exercise, not feeling “attractive” when working out and the worry that others will think they don’t know what they’re doing.
As a result, many of us chose to ditch the gym altogether, meaning we don’t hit the NHS’s recommended 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity every week.
Building confidence takes time, but with a bit of perseverance, you can push past your self-doubt and ace your gym schedule. Here, we’ve found some useful tips for getting the most out of that expensive membership.
1. Have a personal training session
One of the worst things about going to the gym for the first time is the feeling that everyone’s got one eye on what you’re doing.
A qualified trainer will listen to your fitness goals and can coach you through a set of effective exercises that you can take forward into your future solo gym sessions. That way, you won’t be left feeling like a lemon when you’re confronted with a gym floor of people who already have their personal routine down.
2. Do your research
Are you a fast and furious cardio fan, or would you prefer to lift hard and heavy? Not all gyms are made equal and some boutique studios might have a specialism in a particular sport or type of training, so it’s good to do some research ahead of time.
Check out the classes and facilities each gym has to offer and bear in mind that a smaller studio offering step-by-step classes might be less intimidating than joining a bigger space. Take advantage of any intro offers or free day passes too, so you can get a feel for the atmosphere before you commit to signing up.
3. Bring a friend
They say that a problem shared is a problem halved, and that’s true when it comes to the gym.
If you’re feeling nervous about showing up to a bootcamp class, or even just giving the treadmill a try on your own, rope in a buddy to come along.
4. Get a proper gym induction
If classes aren’t your thing and you’re genuinely keen to crack the gym floor, make sure you ask for a gym induction on your first day. And it’s worth getting a quick demonstration from a staff member who knows what they’re doing and can show you the correct form for avoiding injury.
5. Find a workout that you love
Whether it’s boxing, reformer Pilates, weight lifting or running, seeking out the type of class that motivates you to get out of bed in the morning is the best way to ensure your commitment won’t slip.
Finally, although it can be disheartening to feel like everyone on the gym floor is much fitter than you, it’s good to remember that everyone has been a beginner at some stage.
Give yourself a pat on the back for making it this far and actually showing up to the gym.
Even if you get tangled in a resistance band or send an exercise ball bouncing across the room, cringe safe in the knowledge that you’ve just taken the first step in prioritising your health and wellbeing.