I was asked to try out a new gym for a week; of course, I said yes. Now, I have been working out 4-5 days per week on average for the last year. Before that, it was 3ish days per week for several years – including CrossFit! Before that…I was a high school athlete. I tell you this to help illustrate that I am not new to gyms.
I sat out in my truck for about 10 minutes working up the courage to go into this new gym where I did not know anyone. I was by myself.
When I finally went inside, the trainer who was at the desk and greeted me was quite nice! The general manager who I had briefly met last week was there and friendly. Members there knew each other by name, same as the rec center where I currently exercise. I had a great work-out; the equipment is beautiful!
The whole time I was working out, though, I was thinking about how nervous I had been sitting out in my truck. I spend a great deal of my time in gyms, and I was nervous about a new one! When I’m working, I do my absolute best to help people feel comfortable and at ease in the gym. I am never intentionally rude or unwelcoming. I thought back to a few people who have come in talking about nervous they were coming into a new gym or how uncomfortable they were there. I started re-writing future responses in between sets. Instead of chuckling and saying something along the lines of, “oh, there’s nothing to be nervous about; it’s just a gym!” I’ll start asking (without chuckling) why they were nervous? Was it because this was a new place? It’s been awhile since they were in a gym? And I’ll go from there.
To try to summarize what I am trying to say in this post: everyone reacts differently to going to new places – the struggle of going to a gym for one person could be the equivalent of singing in church or heading out of country for others. Instead of treating their struggle as if it’s nothing because it is not a challenge for you, try to understand why they feel nervous. Even if you don’t know what to say, you can still offer support. Give them a tour of the place or work out near them so they have a friendly face close.