How to Overcome Your Fear of Going to the Gym

The gym. It seems like a scary place. It’s filled with a lot of metal contraptions and machines that are supposed to help you work out, but in reality, you have no idea how to use them. There is also the potential of working out in front of people that you know, making yourself worry about judgmental glares 24/7. These are just some of the concerns that people like me had, making it impossible to make yourself actually go to the gym.

For a while now, I refused to go to the gym. I never bothered getting a gym membership back at home and I just chose to work out on my own. This mostly included going on runs around my neighborhood or attempting to get in 20 push ups and sit ups in one day. But neither of these exercises forced me “lift,”the deadly word that was associated with gym folk. It wasn’t until this year where I actually started to force myself to go. If I had to listen to my soccer coach complain to me again about how I wasn’t “strong enough” I was going to get severely pissed off.

But I knew I had to start going to the gym. It was only a matter of time before my fear became a reality. The biggest thing for me was that I didn’t know what to do once I got there. I saw a bunch of machines that I had no idea how to work and I saw weights that I didn’t know how to use. So on my first day entering the gym, I did what probably many people would do; I just resorted to the treadmill and called it a day. While using the treadmill was not a bad start to my gym journey, it was certainly not what I needed. I had to learn how to use weights and lift for once in my life, but I had no idea how to start.

The best way for me to begin was by following my friends every time they went. I felt less insecure when I was copying their exercises because I knew that they at least knew what they were doing. I started to understand the concept of working on certain muscle groups on certain days. They taught me how to go about extreme arm and leg days while sprinkling in ab workouts consistently. After a couple of weeks of this, I became more comfortable because I had a decent knowledge of new exercises, allowing me to form my own mental routine.

Before I could formulate a workout in my head, my friends introduced me to the amazing world of Pinterest exercises. These were extremely helpful because they included diagrams of the exercises instead of simply just stating them. They also included the number of repetitions you should do for each exercise. Using those images were a great starting off point for me, and I highly recommend them to anyone else who is just getting into the gym grind. (Click here for some Pinterest arm and leg exercises).

It’s important to remember that every gym is different. They each have different machines and different setups. Since the Emerson gym is the only gym that I have ever been to, I don’t have much to compare it to. However, from what I have heard, the Emerson gym has a very strange setup. When you take the elevator up to the gym, odds are you’re either going to the third or fourth floor. The third floor has your typical sets of treadmills and ellipticals, alongside some smaller arm, leg, shoulder, back and ab machines. The fourth floor is completely different, consisting of many weights, barbells, and bigger machines for people who really want to lift. (There’s that deadly word again). I have noticed that typically Emerson athletes like to work out on the fourth floor and Emerson students stay on the third floor. DO NOT BE INTIMIDATED BY THIS!!

One of the worst things you can do for yourself is keep yourself from exploring both floors just because you’re scared to go up the stairs. I discovered this after my second day of going to the gym. Even though it may seem terrifying, it is definitely something that you just need to get over. It seems like everyone is judging you at the gym, especially if you don’t know what you’re doing. NEWS FLASH! Everyone who goes to the gym is going to to make themselves better. It doesn’t matter if you’re a newbie lifting 5-pound weights or you’re a professional lifter squatting 250 pounds; no one will judge you. And if for some reason they do, odds are they aren’t properly working out themselves.

If you’re still lacking confidence, that’s perfectly fine. Next time you venture over to the gym, I suggest bringing headphones. Not only do they help block out all of the surrounding noise, but they also make you focus more on your task at hand. Also, if you aren’t sure what exercises are right for you, or you want to work out a specific part of the body, I suggest talking to the strength and conditioning trainer, Johnny. He is almost always on the fourth floor and will address any questions or concerns that you have. In fact, I recently created my own four-day workout plan with Johnny so that I can be working on specific things for my upcoming soccer season. He has definitely been one of the most helpful resources for me thus far.

Overall, going to the gym is a learning experience. Every day I am learning something new and trying out a different exercise. The most important thing to remember is to go consistently. If you are only going to the gym once every two weeks, then it’s like you’re not going to the gym at all. The more effort you put in, the more you will get out of it!

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