I’m sure just the word “Gym” brings up the personification of discomfort or intimidation for many people.
“I’m not worthy.”
We tend to think everyone there is more knowledgable, more fit, stronger and more confident than we are. Everyone there seems to have their superb bodies in perfect order; with bulges present in all the right places, and absent in the wrong ones, effortlessly trotting on treadmills for what seems like hours on end and shifting the foundations with superhuman deadlifts.
You walk in and suddenly your humble physique you’ve worked on (or need to) seems a little less impressive than it was in the home mirror last night. You wonder if you belong here with these shiny, happy people.
The thing is, everyone feels that way, at least at some point.
The truth is that the gym is, almost by definition, full of people who are a little self conscious….For a huge amount of people, thats the very reason they are there! They want to improve the outer layer that everyone else sees. Research has shown that the reason many people will give when asked why they exercise, ”General health”, is often very low on the list of true motivators, and not a good way to motivate most people in general. More shallow and short term goals are more likely the reason you’ll find someone plugging away on the step machine. If we are honest, “I want to lose weight” or “I want bigger arms/ chest/shoulders/booty” are much higher up on that list than we’d like to admit.
And that’s fine.
You have your goal, and you need to “do you”. You’ve paid your gym fees just like everybody else there, and good on you. You’ve taken that first step towards that goal. You have just as much right to any square metre of that gym as anybody else in there! Thats the first thing to remember.
“I don’t know what to do!”
The 2nd intimidation for most people is “Oh my gosh….What do I do here? What are these machines? Should I just run? I’ve heard cardio is good? Maybe a the circuit is better? Barbells look really scary….Won’t I get too big?”.
My answer to this is: no matter what you do, you are absolutely lapping the alternate you that sits on the couch eating chips. You’re there, and you’re moving or lifting or even just stretching. Getting your human machine moving in any way you enjoy is great! Pat yourself on the back! Sometimes we need to make little goals and celebrate them. If you have this intimidation just go and do what feels good. If that’s a group class, go have fun in that group class. If it’s stretching, cool, do that. You’re there and every time you walk in there it gets less and less intimidating.
Now, at some point you have to realise that you need to do certain things to achieve certain goals. If your goal is to get huge and deadlift triple your bodyweight….That yoga class isn’t gonna get you there. If you want to lose weight or improve your body composition, hours on the treadmill may not be the best way (Thankfully!!). Once you are more comfortable with just getting yourself into the gym then you can find the best things to do for your specific goals and go attack em. This is also where various coaches come in handy as well. I believe that good old barbell strength training, while looking the most intimidating, is actually one of the easiest things to learn, and the best bang for buck type of training out there, PARTICULARLY FOR A NOVICE!!! I would urge you to get into barbell training as soon as you can if you want to get stronger, leaner, fitter and live longer!!!
I have come to find the gym to be a soothing hour to ninety minutes of peace after a hectic work day. The clanging of weights, the grunts of effort, the buzzing of timers, and even the vapid pop music invading the quieter bits of my (far superior!) iPhone playlist all come together to offer a strangely soothing background to some “me time”. I can walk in, and focus on simply doing the task at hand. Nothing else matters for that part of the day. This is my active meditation. I ALWAYS feel better about myself and my life in general after leaving the gym. I have often said that workout time is my “Caveman Time”. It is time that allows my inner caveman to do all the physical stress that balances out the mental stresses of the day.
It’s cheaper than therapy and you get stronger at the same time….How can you beat that?
I would love to help you have the same relationship with the gym and physical exercise in general. Give me a shout if that is something you’d like to have in your life.