As a cycle instructor, I see a couple of new faces timidly enter the studio every week. They start by peering through the door, then slowly open it, and hustle to the back row as quickly as possible.
I get it. Trying a new class or going to the gym for the first time can be intimidating. It seems like everywhere you look there are toned, Lulu-clad bodies squatting, lifting, cycling, or running like they’ve been doing it for years — and maybe they have. But even the fittest bodies at the gym had to start somewhere. They too once walked in for the first time, a little nervous, and clueless as to where to begin.
If intimidation is holding you back, here are some suggestions on how to overcome it and reach your fitness goals with confidence.
Ever wonder why women go to the bathroom in pairs? Because they’ve got each other’s backs! The same is true at the gym. Having a good workout buddy beside you can do wonders for your comfort level and alleviate that,“everyone is watching me” feeling.
Hire a Trainer
Many gyms offer an intro or training session with a membership. Take advantage of that to learn how to use different pieces of equipment or perform specific exercises. Knowledge is power!
Try a Group Fitness Class
Walking into a group of strangers can itself be intimidating, but in a group setting people are more focused on themselves than on watching anyone else. Plus, many classes (like spin) keep the lights low or even off. That affords you more privacy and allows you to focus on yourself and what you are doing.
Ask for Help
There’s no shame in asking for help. Most gyms have trainers walking around specifically to answer questions or offer guidance. If you’re taking a group class, arrive a little early, introduce yourself, and tell the instructor if it is your first time. That way he or she help you get set up if necessary, explain the format, pair you with someone at your fitness level if applicable, and offer encouragement.
Look the Part
Never underestimate the power of cute exercise clothes when it comes to boosting your confidence level. If you go in looking sloppy in oversized tees or baggy sweats, you aren’t going to feel your best. Treat yourself to some new leggings, tops, or shorts in fun colors, tighten your ponytail, and walk in with your head held high!
Turn Up and Tune Out
Finally, download a killer playlist filled with your favorite tunes. Positive songs with a motivating message can help you find your mojo. Some of my favorites include “Woman,” by Keesha; “Stronger,” by Britney Spears; and “Whatever It Takes,” by Imagine Dragons. But find what gets you moving and then crank it up!
Be Patient and Keep at It
Last but not least, give yourself some time. The more you go, the easier it will become until, before you know it, you’ve formed a healthy habit.
Bonny Osterhage is co-founder and small-group trainer at BodyArchitecture Personal Training and Fitness in San Antonio, Texas.