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How To Get Over Your Fear To The Gym For The First Time

August 23rd 2019

Are you scared to go to the gym for the first time? Perhaps you are afraid of what people will think of you. Perhaps you are scared of hurting yourself. Whatever your reason, feeling overwhelmed by the gym is quite common. 

There is no need to be consumed by fear and not go to the gym. Literally, everyone you see in the gym has to go through the same process prior to even stepping foot in the gym. The bodybuilding greats have done it. The Strongman champions have done it. Hell, even I have done it myself. So, read on for nine ways to get over your fear of going to the gym for the first time. 

I am scared to go to the gym for the first time, what should I do?

It is okay to feel a little anxious when you go to the gym for the first time. Find a gym, workout routine, and possibly a workout buddy so that you can be best equipped to put in some work in the next gym session.

Knowledge is power. With a little prep ahead of time, you can ease your mind for your first trip to the gym. 

1. Choose the right gym for you 

The fitness industry is saturated with choices. There are big fitness center chains such as Planet Fitness, Life Time Fitness and Gold’s Gym.  These offer a lot of services and amenities but tend to lack the community feel some may want. Then you have boutique-style specialty gyms that are privately owned and operated and much smaller - for example, a CrossFit gym. These mom-and-pop gyms typically lack in amenities but offer more of a “where everybody knows your name” feel. 

Take your time in choosing your gym. Browse your local selection online and schedule tours at three of them minimum; more if you want. While you tour each facility, consider the following: 

  • Overall atmosphere and vibe
  • Friendliness of employees
  • Friendliness of members
  • Selection of equipment 
  • Cleanliness of the facility 

2. Better Yet, Have a Home Gym

You are in control of your time. You are in control of your pace. This is a win-win situation. You have your phone right next to you and access to all of the information online. You just need to know what questions to ask and just follow through with your bold actions. 

Need some recommendations on what exactly you need to for a home gym? Feel free to check out my reviews on barbells, plates, squat racks, power racks, etc. 

3. Choose the right workout for you

The fitness industry is also saturated with choices of equipment once inside the gym. Depending on what gym you join, you’ll likely have a selection of barbells, dumbbells, cable resistance machines, selectorized machines, cardio machines, and group exercise classes. If you are just starting out, a simple barbell resistance routine may be your best bet. My go-tos? For any beginner lifter, I would go straight to either Greyskull LP or Starting Strength

Simply put, barbell exercises are the best bang for your buck. They work on the most muscle groups while putting the least amount of pressure on you. 

4. Go in with a plan

Before you step foot in the gym for the first time, be sure you know what you plan to do. Map out your entire hour. This could be even just knowing where everything is in the gym and familiarizing yourself with your surroundings.

5. Ask for help if you need it

Chances are the trainers and staff at the gym genuinely want to help you. No one works in the fitness industry for the money; we do it because we enjoy helping others and sharing our knowledge! Some gyms give you a free personal training session when you join - take advantage of that. If it is in your budget, consider working with a qualified trainer for a month or two to put your mind at ease, learn proper exercise technique and build a workout routine. You being scared to go to the gym will be a distant memory.

If you can’t afford a trainer, watch some YouTube videos created from Youtubers you trust to educate yourself on proper form. Get multiple opinions from different sources and you should be on your way to figuring out how to lift weights with proper form. 

Arming yourself with knowledge ahead of time may help you get over your fear of being scared to go to the gym for the first time, but if your fear stems from some deeper emotional roots, you’ll need to dig those up also. 

6. Soul search, why are you feeling scared to go to the gym?

Take a moment to think about why you are scared. What is driving that anxiety? Are you afraid of being judged? Why? People judge us every day no matter what we do. 

Perhaps your fear is stemming from a feeling that you don’t belong or you are an outsider? No matter how physically inactive you’ve been in life, you have the opportunity to turn that around and start an exercise program. Everyone you meet will be in support of you and your desire to make positive life changes. You do belong at the gym, no matter what your stage of life or fitness level! 

7. Remember you are not alone

It is very likely that everyone else at the gym is as self-conscious as you. Even the gym members who look fit. According to clinical psychologists, it is a natural human tendency to feel that everyone is watching and judging you when in reality we are all too consumed with ourselves.  

8. Fake it ’til you make it

Even if you are scared, throw on a smile, puff your chest out proudly, keep your eyes up and walk like you own the place. No one has to know you are scared even if you are trembling on the inside! 

More Ideas

Hey, you made it this far? That’s great! However, everything you need to learn and motivate yourself to go to the gym for the first time can be found in the first eight bullets. But, there are still tons of strategies for you to get over your hurdle of going to the gym for the first time. 

9. Recruit another newbie

If you still find yourself scared to go to the gym for the first time, recruit someone else new to go with you. Did you know that one of the best ways to get over gym anxiety is to have a workout partner? Try asking a family member, friend, or a co-worker to start exercising with you. Chances are they will appreciate the encouragement as well and you both can take comfort in trying it together.  

10. Buy a new outfit

Up your confidence level by looking the part. Treat yourself to a new, trendy workout outfit that flatters your shape and hides sweat, and a new, clean, well-fitting pair of sneakers.  This may help you feel like you belong at the gym, even if you don’t know your way around the weight room. 

Let us wrap this up

Being scared to go to the gym for the first time can be an overwhelming thought. Pushing through your fear of going to the gym can be tough, but you owe it to yourself to conquer it. With time and knowledge, your fear of the gym will dissipate and you will look forward to the endorphin rush after a good workout!

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