Thursday night, I arrived to work my shift at the gym desk and found a woman firing a million questions at my male co-worker. He, quite gracefully, passed her off to me in order for him to leave. After only 30 seconds of talking with this woman, I realized how incredibly nervous and out-of-place she felt. She mentioned that she has never stepped foot in a gym before, has never worked out, and picked this gym because she didn’t think she would see anyone she knew. After she left, I started making a new list in my head for people who feel out of place in a gym but join to better their health.
- Don’t worry about what everyone else is wearing; wear what is comfortable for you. One of the things this woman kept worrying about and mentioning was that she did not know what she would wear. She kept pointing out the younger girls who wear the super tight tops and leggings. I told her that I am comfortable working out in leggings or tight capris, but I prefer to wear looser tops. Wear what makes you comfortable. Keep in mind the dress-code for the gym (example: my gym does not allow girls to be walking around in just their sports bras and barely-there shorts or guys to be shirtless), but wear what works for you! I recommended going to Wal-Mart and getting a pair of sweatpants and a comfortable shirt to start.
- You don’t need to spend a fortune. Just because some people have those expensive headphones or earbuds, or they’re wearing different shoes for different work-outs does not mean that you need to worry about spending a lot of money for accessories. Focus on the basics: your gym membership, at least one good pair of shoes, a water bottle, maybe a trainer. If you want earbuds, every gas station I have ever been to keeps them on a shelf or rack somewhere for relatively low prices. Stores keep lower price options available as well. A good water bottle is important because you do want to stay hydrated. It’s more economical in the long run to buy a good, reusable water bottle rather than buying a new one every single time you go to exercise. Also, those bottles you find in the cooler next to the register or in the coolers are made up of all sorts of chemicals that leak into the water, poisoning you.
- Trainers are there to help you. The conversation I walked into was the woman wondering if there were any evening classes offered on how to use the different machines. Unfortunately, we only offer them in the morning, so I recommended she talk to the trainers we have contracted. I do not know all their prices or what a consult includes, but it wouldn’t hurt to contact them. She was insistent that she was not in a place physically where she would feel comfortable working with a trainer. There are some trainers who yes, they only work with clients who are already at a certain level of fitness, but most of us love working with clients who are in that beginning stage. I enjoy working with clients who have never had a trainer before because it means there likely are fewer bad habits to break!
- It’s ok to be nervous. You are taking a big step. Everyone gets a bit nervous when they are starting something new or restarting something they may not have done for a few years. Take a deep breath and get going. Nobody will notice that you’re new unless you want them to notice. I’ve been in gyms my whole life; I’ve been heavy lifting for the last six years. . .and I felt quite embarrassed when I dropped the bar from a power clean earlier this year. It wasn’t that it was too heavy; the bar spun – literally – right out of my hands which I was not expecting. I grumbled to myself for a bit, switched out the bars, and kept going. Only a few of the guys around noticed what had happened, and they were more concerned that I dropped it because I got hurt. I have seen those with more experience than I make mistakes. It happens.
Most of us in the fitness profession have had uncomfortable moments in our bodies and/or in the gym. I actually wrote a short article about this recently (Short and Sweet). A co-worker of mine, after the woman left, made the comment that she was going to be a high maintenance member. I said no, I did not get that feel at all. I felt she was just nervous and was wanting to get all the information she could to help boost her confidence. For this reason, before she left, I gave her not only the e-mails of the women who run the classes on how to use the machines to see if they had other times available, I also gave her my name and told her that if I am working or even just working-out on the floor, let me know if she had a question about any of the machines or movements. I am not contracted at this facility as a trainer, but I can help new members and am willing to help anyone who is trying to make a positive change in their life!